The media never get enough of the Democrats In Disarray narrative…. (More)
“The basic Clinton-Sanders rift that sunk the party in 2016”
As Everyone Knows, in 2016 Hillary Clinton got clobbered and Democrats lost the House and Senate because the Democratic Party turned its back on Real Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders. If you don’t believe me, just read Brian Beutler’s piece at The New Republic, headlined “The Democrats’ Existential Crisis Won’t Resolve Itself”:
This backdrop explains why Democrats were taken aback this week when Senator Bernie Sanders – in the midst of a nationwide speaking tour with Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee – questioned [Georgia congressional candidate Jon] Ossoff’s political merits. Asked by the Wall Street Journal whether Ossoff was a progressive, Sanders said, “I don’t know.” The Washington Post got a more categorical quote: “He’s not a progressive.”
This because Ossoff’s website doesn’t mention the phrase “income inequality.” Just so you know. Anyway, Beutler continues:
It is true that Ossoff’s platform isn’t staunchly progressive. His theory of victory resembles Hillary Clinton’s bet on minority voters and college-educated whites, rather than Sanders’s class-rooted appeal. Clinton narrowly lost the district to Trump, but performed much better there than President Barack Obama did against Mitt Romney in 2012. If Ossoff outperforms Clinton even a little bit, he can win.
But Ossoff also wasn’t running to anyone’s right. There was no more progressive option in the jungle primary on Tuesday – no one whom Sanders would have favored over Ossoff – and the race is now a choice between him and a Republican.
This is just one House seat, of course, but it will not be the last competitive race between now and 2020 – a period of mortal consequence to the party, and to pluralistic politics more broadly. And yet there is nothing obvious on the horizon that will prevent the basic Clinton-Sanders rift that sunk the party in 2016 from reemerging again and again.
Yes, it’s always and forever Democrats In Disarray.
“I don’t mean to put them down….”
“We’d have a rally with five or ten thousand young people out, a great deal of energy,” Sanders said between bites of a steak sandwich. “Then I’d walk into a room and there’d be a thousand people from the Democratic Party. You were in two different worlds – one full of energy, one full of idealism. And the other, full of good people – I don’t mean to put them down – who are the bedrock of the Democratic Party.”
Oh yes, he did mean to put down “the bedrock of the Democratic Party,” none of whom are “full of energy … full of idealism.” Unlike, say, this very energetic and idealistic candidate for whom Sen. Sanders is currently campaigning:
“If you are running in rural Mississippi, do you hold the same criteria as if you’re running in San Francisco?” he said. “I think you’d be a fool to think that’s all the same.”
Sanders had said this before, and each time, he had sparked anger from a center-left ready to accuse him of abandoning women or nonwhite voters. On Thursday, he was set to campaign in Omaha for Heath Mello, a Democrat running for mayor who had previously backed a bill requiring ultrasounds for women considering abortions.
Oh puh-f–ing-leeze. If you support mandatory ultrasounds for women considering abortions — Mello is a pro-life member of the Knights of Columbus, just so you know – then you’re hardly a “progressive,” no matter how much you yell “income inequality!” Scott Lemieux explains:
Any attempt to classify people as “progressive” that does not include reproductive freedom as a criterion is bullshit. That doesn’t mean that the issue is a “dealbreaker” in a general election where someone with bad views on the subject is the best you can do, but of course the same goes for candidates whose economic rhetoric Sanders finds insufficiently populist in tone.
Like Lemieux, I would still phone-bank for Mello against a Republican opponent. But don’t expect me to hail him as a Real Progressive just because he parrots Sen. Sanders on income inequality and the $15 minimum wage. There’s more to the progressive agenda, and refusing to acknowledge that is the only ‘existential crisis.’
“I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood”
[Karen] Handel has a good chance at consolidating the Republican vote, which had been split between multiple contenders in the primary, and winning the traditionally conservative district. But there is one thing that Ossoff has going for him: The last time Handel was in the national spotlight, she was making a fool out of herself and her then-employer, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
In January 2012, the Komen foundation, as it’s typically called, quietly announced that it was terminating a $700,000 grant made to a number of Planned Parenthood clinics to fund mammograms and other breast cancer-related services. This was less than a year after Republicans, led by then-congressman Mike Pence, used the threat of a government shutdown to bar Medicaid patients from using Planned Parenthood services. Suspicions immediately arose in the women’s health care world that Komen was responding to political pressure from conservative Christians who wished to stigmatize Planned Parenthood.
“[T]hree sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut off Planned Parenthood,” reported Jeffery Goldberg at the Atlantic. “The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is ‘pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.’”
Anonymous sources from the Komen foundation confirmed that Handel’s reasoning was purely political and that the “investigations” excuse was explicitly concocted as a cover story. The furor caused the Komen foundation to backpedal furiously and reinstate the grants in a matter of days. Handel then resigned.
I put the parenthetical “(almost) singlehandedly” because under Handel and other leaders, the Komen Foundation was also trying to monopolize breast cancer charity giving with a bevy of lawsuits against other charities that cost more than the foundation committed to breast cancer research and treatment. They were, as The American Prospect described it, in the business of pink-washing … using “breast cancer” as a pretext for raising money to spend on salaries and fundraising while suing other charities that actually raised money for breast cancer research and treatment.
But even if Ossoff does pull one off in June, it will be hard to paint his victory as any kind of progressive triumph. The candidate himself seems earnest, and (to borrow a phrase) likable enough for someone who has clearly had his eye on a political career for quite a while. As a filmmaker, Ossoff’s targets have included “Nigeria’s Fake Doctors,” Big Tobacco (in Kenya), and corruption in Mozambique – all worthy, and all very far away. As a candidate, he’s been forthright in defense of Planned Parenthood – which might actually help against Handel, who resigned from the Susan G. Komen foundation after the group reversed a decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. And he’s nobody’s idea of a blue dog. But with campaign ads arguing “both parties in Washington waste too much of your money,” Ossoff is running as a pragmatic centrist, not a political revolutionary.
Guttenplan sneeringly describes him as “for better and worse, is definitely a candidate a Clinton supporter could love” – as if Hillary Clinton did not win a 3-million-vote popular majority last year – and dismisses his campaign as “an expensive sideshow.”
The Week‘s Ryan Cooper piles on:
It’s a good sign for Democrats – and a good test case for the areas of the country where Hillary Clinton did unusually well. But they should be wary before using Ossoff’s campaign strategy as a template for the rest of the country. To win in districts President Trump dominated in 2016, Democrats would be well advised to adopt better class politics.
“Better class politics” how, exactly? Clinton campaigned on and Ossoff is campaigning on making college more affordable, protecting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act, expanding child- and elder-care tax credits, job transition training, and a whole host of other specific policies that would help hardworking families find more opportunities. But she didn’t and he isn’t howling about Wall Street all the way through every speech.
Here’s the thing. When Sen. Sanders and Guttenplan and Cooper talk about “better class politics,” they mean ignoring issues that matter to women and people of color and focusing exclusively on issues that matter to white men. As if we don’t already have a major political party that focuses exclusively on issues that matter to white men.
Democrats aren’t in disarray … except in the estimation of white guys who think the Democratic Party should be All About Them.
And for the record, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote in 2016, and Democrats did gain seats in both the Senate and House. That’s how “sunk” the party was.
I’m gonna go find some macadamias. They’re good for my blood pressure.
Photo Credit: AP
Good day and good nuts