On Friday, during an interview with the Fox affiliate in L.A., Gov. Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, said there was nothing surprising to him about Chesa Boudin being recalled. But he didn't mention the immense amount of money spent to deceive voters by Republican oligarchs. Instead he said "people want the streets cleaned up-- period. Full stop. Enough. They want the streets cleaned up. They want a sense of order from the disorder they’re feeling on the streets... And tag, the D.A. was it, meaning there was some attachment of accountability and responsibility."
This morning, writing for the Associated Press, Steve Peoples reported that "Many of the nation’s most vulnerable Democrats are actively trying to distance themselves from Washington-- and their party. Responding to deep frustration from voters who will decide their fate in November, Democratic candidates in swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire are railing against the institutions their party has managed for the last 16 months. It is a strategy born of necessity given the political climate Democrats are facing in 2022: President Joe Biden remains deeply unpopular and an overwhelming majority of U.S. adults believe the country is moving in the wrong direction. The Democrats who control Congress have failed to deliver on core campaign promises, and perhaps most concerning, the cost of basic goods like groceries and gasoline is soaring under their watch. The nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline topped $5 for the first time ever over the weekend."
Are they running against Republicans sabotaging all of Biden's and the Democrats efforts to solve the problems? Are they running against Manchin and Sinema who have done likewise?
In an interview, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a leading Democrat in the race, described the Democratic-controlled Senate as an “out-of-touch millionaire’s club.” He insisted he was not running against his party, although he had nothing positive to say about Biden when asked to assess the Democratic president’s job performance.
“I’ll be honest, voters are frustrated by a lack of action from people on both sides of the aisle. I agree with them. I’m frustrated, too,” Barnes said. “In order to change Washington, we have to change the people we send there.”
It’s much the same in Pennsylvania, where Fetterman released the opening ads of his general election campaign last week just days after securing his party’s nomination.
“The big guy is running for Senate to take on Washington,” the narrator in one of the new ads says of Fetterman, who is 6 feet and 9 inches tall. Fetterman’s message is even sharper in the other TV spot: “Washington, D.C., attacked towns like this for years,” the narrator says. “We need help. They just talk.”
And while it may be somewhat simple for candidates like Fetterman and Barnes, who have never served in Congress, to run against Washington, incumbent Democrats in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire may have a more difficult task.
In New Hampshire, Hassan is asking voters to send her back to Washington, where she has served for almost six years. She’s expected to face a challenging general election, even as Republicans struggle to rally behind a top-tier challenger.
In recent weeks, Hassan has condemned the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and its policies on the U.S.-Mexico border. And in one of her campaign’s first TV ads, Hassan said she was challenging fellow Democrats in Congress to do more to lower the price of gas.
“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday and I’m pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves,” Hassan said in one ad titled “Relief.”
Hassan is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate and has been part of the problem, not part of the solution. With neither Manchin nor Sinema up for reelection this cycle, I can't think of any Democrat who more richly deserves to be defeated in November. ProgressivePunch rates her record an overly generous "D" and points out that there are 6 Democrats with worse voting records: Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Carper (DE), Sinema (AZ) and Manchin (WV).
Last year I noted that progressives weren't happy with the way conservative Democrats were advancing right-wing corporate priorities. When Bernie introduced the $15 minimum wage amendment it wasn't just Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin voting with the GOP to prevent it and maintain poverty wages. Besides Hassan, the Republicans were joined by Biden's two Delaware allies Chris Coons and Tom Carper, Jeannine Shaheen (NH), Jon Tester (MT) and Angus King (I-ME).
There's a middle-mush in politics now, where careerist conservative corporate Democrats meet with non-fascist-- but entirely conservative-- Republicans. That's the ugly center of current U.S. politics-- what the media delights in calling "moderates," the most favored term by U.S. voters. On the right of that mush are the fascists and fascist-leaning Republicans who are increasingly the dominant wing of the GOP. And on the left is the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, progressives, who don't have much more in common-- once you get beyond the partisan gamesmanship-- with the Manchins and Sinemas than they do with Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell.
In Utah, the Democratic Party establishment has pretty much given up. The grassroots voted for Bernie over Hillary 79.2% to 20.3% in 2016 and four years later again backed Bernie:
Bernie- 79,728 (36.1%)- 16 delegates
Biden- 40,674 (18.4%)- 7 delegates
Elizabeth Warren- 35,727 (16.2%)- 3 delegates
Bloomberg- 33,991 (15.4%)- 3 delegates
Mayo Pete- 18,734 (8.5%)- no delegares
But this year the party establishment is backing conservative Republican Evan McMullin who's his running against neo-fascist Mike Lee as an independent, Republican-lite Blue Dog Ben McAdams in the role of the Judas goat. I would expect nothing less from McAdams.
But Robert Reich? I was shocked this morning to see his latest blogpost, Liz Cheney for President? His post starts badly-- about how he'll support Biden-- presumably in a primary-- if he runs again in 2024. "But," he wrote, "today I want to suggest someone who isn’t even a Democrat, and whose positions on many issues I (and I suspect you) strongly disagree with-- but who could possibly be the best president of the United States for the perilous time we’re entering. I’m referring to Liz Cheney." On many issues? How about on every single policy issue? Adam Kinzinger may have turned into a bit of a "moderate." Liz Cheney is still a die-hard, far right conservative. This cycle, only one Republican has voted more frequently for progressive positions than Kinzinger and that's Brian Fitzpatrick (PA). Kinzinger has a 10.17 ProgressivePunch crucial vote score for the 117th Congress. Fitzpatrick's is 13.74. Cheney's is 7.78. She votes with the Democrats against Trump and his allies and that's about it-- and enough for Reich to want to do what the Utah Democrats did, just give up?
He wrote that Trump tried and is still trying to gin up "a civil war centered on himself -- on his Big Lie, and on the racist nationalism he fueled to build his political base. Trump’s narcissism is so poisonous that he is committed to splitting the nation over its commitment to him. As president, Trump never understood his responsibility to America as a whole. He felt responsible only to his supporters, whom he called 'my people.' Those who didn’t support him were his enemies. Since the 2020 election, he has done everything possible to stoke war between his supporters and his perceived enemies. Clearly, that’s his aim in 2024." All true and the kind of good analysis we have come to expect from Reich. Then he veered off course, mixing truths with nonsense to urge his readers to join the centrist mush:
It will be impossible to reunite this nation without a leader who is the exact opposite of Trump-- driven not by narcissism but by a passion for the rule of law and the Constitution-- someone who has staked everything on opposing Trump’s demagogic authoritarianism, someone with huge stores of courage and integrity.
Since the attack on the Capitol, Liz Cheney has demonstrated more courage and integrity than any other politician in America. Democratic lawmakers have opposed Trump’s Big Lie, to be sure, but most knew they wouldn’t pay a price for their opposition. Cheney knew she would pay a price-- and she has.
...Cheney is a firm conservative and I have opposed many of her positions. But we are at an inflection point in this nation over a set of principles that transcend any particular positions or policies. If we cannot agree on the sanctity of the Constitution and the rule of law, we are no longer capable of self government.
The real battle in 2024 will not be between Democrats and Republicans. It will be between forces supporting democracy in America and those supporting authoritarianism. Trump is the de facto leader of the forces supporting authoritarianism. Liz Cheney has become the de facto leader of the forces supporting democracy. [That is very debatable.]
...Paradoxically, Cheney-- although conservative-- reminds me of Senator Paul Wellstone, one of the most progressive politicians I’ve ever known. They have in common courage and integrity, and a love of democracy.
The last time I spoke with Paul was soon after he voted against the resolution authorizing war in Iraq, on October 11, 2002. The trauma of 9/11 was still fresh, but Wellstone doubted that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” as George W. Bush and his administration claimed. Wellstone worried that America was acting out of anger rather than principle, and that there was no justification for such an invasion.
I agreed with him but was concerned for him. He was up for reelection. It was a tight race. Polls showed that most of his constituents in Minnesota supported the war.
“Don’t worry, Bob,” he said. “If I lose, that’s okay. I was elected to vote my conscience. If my constituents don’t support my conscience, I shouldn’t represent them.”
In the following days, Wellstone explained to Minnesotans why he voted the way he did, and his polls rose. Had he lived, he may well have won reelection. (On October 25, 2002, eleven days before the election, he died in a plane crash on his way to a campaign event near Eveleth, Minnesota. His wife, Sheila, and daughter, Marcia, also died on board.)
Liz Cheney’s courage and integrity are closer to Paul Wellstone’s than to almost any current politician I can think of. All of America needs her to run for president in 2024. Do we need her to win as well?
It's great that a right-winger like Cheney is at odds with Trump and that she's demonstrating some non-careerist political courage. She was given a Profiles In Courage award for that. The presidency though? Her lifetime ProgressivePunch crucial vote score is 3.85. How much do you hate Kyrsten Sinema? Her ProgressivePunch crucial vote score is 69.87 and Manchin's is 60.15.
Like Reich, I'm a big fan of political courage and I don't think you need to look to a far right winger wrong on every single policy issue for teh last decade to find it. Remember Bernie Sanders? Elizabeth Warren? Jeff Merkley? Bernie would wipe the floor with Trump; the other two probably would as well.
What Teresa Tomlinson wrote a couple of years ago about what ails teh Democratic Party came to mind: "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave." What that says to me is not to go back a conservative Republican, or a sack of political garbage like Mayo Pete or Kamala Harris. It says that if the Democratic establishment wants to join the mush in the middle, good luck. I for one won't miss you.