They Tried Turning Veterans Into More Identity Politics Bullshit
In 2018 and 2020, the DCCC had a scammy little shtik they tried out-- pushing military veterans as candidates and painting them as valiant heroes and heroines. They started with Conor Lamb, an ex-Marine with no combat experience, as well as a political coward who either is or pretends to be a conservative. He won a special election and the DCCC went hog-wild on their new formula. Unfortunately, all the veterans they elected turned out to be among the worst Democrats in Congress. The one exception is Kai Kahele, a progressive Air Force veteran from Hawaii who was neither recruited nor supported by the DCCC.
All of the others that were elected in the 2018 and 2020 cycles have "F" scores. Worst of the lot is former Marine Jared Golden (ME), who ran as a progressive and then, having fooled everyone, joined the Blue Dogs and ran up the third worst voting record of any Democrat in the House. He is widely considered to be one of the Democrats most likely to eventually flip to the GOP. Almost as bad is another ultra-reactionary Blue Dog, former spy agency operative Abigail Spanberger (VA). She's also on the fence-jumper watch list and currently boasting the 5th worst voting record of any House Democrat. The other very conservative vets are-- from bad to worst-- Jason Crow (New Dem-CO), Andy Kim (NJ), Mikie Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ), Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA), Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA), and Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI).
Two others were elected in 2018 and defeated in 2020-- both horrible: Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY) and Gil Cisneros (New Dem-CA).
In the 2018 cycle, the DCCC pushed this shtik heavily. Most of the 30 dreadful candidates they ran lost in either primaries or the general election-- like these crappy candidates Fox reported on when then Caucus Leader (soon too be vanquished himself by AOC) Joe Crowley announced his bullshit "Reinvesting in Our Heroes Task Force." Among the candidates who lost-- mostly in primaries-- were Gina Ortiz Jones (TX), Pat Ryan (NY), Josh Butner (CA), Andrew Grant (CA), Amy McGrath (KY), Brendan Kelly (IL), Eddie Edwards (NH), Dan DeBono (NY), Steve Ferrara (AZ)... Seth Moulton (New Dem-MA), a corrupt conservative veteran himself who admits he used Rahm Emanuel as a role model, did much of the recruiting, which helps explain why the vast majority of the recruits failed.
Many people consider Cheri Bustos the worst DCCC chair in anyone's living memory. After failing miserably as chair, she left the DCCC and soon after announced she wouldn't run for Congress again. But before it all fell apart-- in May of 2019-- she announced that "Our veterans embody the very best of what it means to be an American and they are a critically important part of our Democratic Party. Advocating for their needs, recognizing their service to America and working to elect the next generation of veterans to join our Democratic Caucus is essential to our success." Almost every one of her candidates lost, including Gina Ortiz Jones again and Long Island Blue Dog Jackie Gordan.
"Veterans are often treated like monoliths by politicians," said the newest Blue America endorsee, former Army captain Brittany Ramos DeBarros, "but we’re diverse in every way, including politically. Still, when we run for office, even as Democrats, we’re expected to play a kind of token role that glosses over the real problems and truths that need to be addressed. I hope my example breaks the mold and shows we can run, own our experience as veterans, and tell the truth about U.S. militarism."
I spoke with Chris Deluzio, the progressive Democrat running for the seat Conor Lamb is giving up in Pittsburgh suburbs and exurbs. "I’m proud of my background of service," he told me; "it certainly shaped who I am today and my commitment to our democracy. But that worldview also drives me to fight for our common good: to rebuild our social safety net, to give unions a fair shot against big corporations, and so much more to deliver real progress to the people of western Pennsylvania.”
Having served in the military is also a core part of who Bruno Amato is-- and so is the progressive platform he's running on in his quest to replace Kevin McCarthy in southern California. He reminded me last night that he joined the service at 17 years old, following in his father's footsteps, who was "an immigrant who earned the Purple Heart in WWII. Service to country was part of my upbringing as was hard honest work. I watched my immigrant parents toil at blue collar jobs their whole lives. They didn't have the chance to go to school and earn degrees. They worked and raised a family on mostly low wage jobs. Luckily their kids were healthy, so they didnt have the extra worry of affording to pay major hospital bills. The working class is the backbone of this country and is why, when elected to Congress, I will work for veterans, immigrants and the working class, ensuring everyone has good wages, medicare for all-- that includes dental and vision with affordable prescriptions-- and free community colleges. As a member of two unions, I will always fight for unions and good wages." He added that
Only a very small percentage of Americans today actually serve in the military and they deserve the best care and opportunities after leaving the service.
My opponent Kevin McCarthy never misses an opportunity for a photo op with veterans, just as he does with police, but as he chants "back the blue" he turned his back on all those officers who protected him, the Capitol and democracy on January 6th, deciding to instead take the side of Trump, insurrectionists and members of his own party who incited it, himself included.
10 years ago McCarthy promised the veterans in his own district #CA23 that he would have a new VA clinic built for them. Another empty promise that never came to fruition.
Unlike Kevin McCarthy, I don't use the term "illegals" to describe people. Most immigrants who come here, work their asses off every day. McCarthy has never worked a day in his life. These immigrants and essential workers helped keep food on our tables during an epidemic, many of them dying while doing so. These folks and those immigrants in our military saved our country, they didnt attack it. They need a fast track to citizenship. I will advocate for that too in Congress.
UPDATE: Steven Holden
In the past few years, the DCCC has made a point to promote veterans. The problem is, what types of veterans are they? From what I have seen, most of them are empty suits-- like Francis Conole. They do little vetting of these folks and only cater to potential electability. There are Veterans like me who have policy positions to help working Americans, get us out of forever wars and this pandemic, eliminate student loan debt, pay first-line care workers a living wage, and combat the climate crisis. We are also people who are getting things done, such as my work with Rep. Ted Lieu’s office on bringing home Afghan families, helping Veterans start jobs, and working with State and USAID to find diplomatic solutions to international crises.
Whereas I appreciate Fran’s service, as he does mine, Fran has spent more time in DC, just like John Katko, than here in the district. Like many of these vets, he is an opportunist, as he has worked for the Obama, Trump, and Biden Administrations. His views are whatever the establishment wants them to be. I had fellow vet tell me that Fran does not need to get out and talk to groups and only wants to support him because "he wants to win." He sold out. It is very likely that he will be one of those Dems who is more concerned about getting elected than doing the job of a congressman.
I have spoken to many voters, and they like my fresh take on things and are going to vote for, donate to, and support me. These are folks who voted for Katko or Fran in 2020. We need veterans in Congress who will take their life experiences and put them into compassionate policies. Fran Conole and others like him is just not one of them. He spent $900K in 2020, in a primary designed to help establishment centrists, and still lost to a real progressive, Dana Balter, by almost 13K votes. That is pathetic, and people in DC are shocked he is running again.