A recent article in Politico made the case that corporate Democrats are not facing primary challenges in next year’s midterm election. Not only did the article make the case that primaries against corporate Democrats aren’t happening, but also that the left isn’t gaining much support.
The piece seems more appropriate for the Onion than a site like Politico. Sadly, it’s hard to tell the difference these days. The article made a case against the left that can be debunked by a two-minute search on Google and YouTube.
Addressing the first point: Corporate Democrats are not largely threatened by primaries in 2018. This point completely ignores the reality that there are several primaries already geared up. Many more primaries are likely to spring up as 2018 approaches.
Justice Democrats, for example, have at least 16 candidates running for the House and Senate. Only one candidate on that list is an incumbent, representative Ro Khanna from California’s 17th District. Justice Democrats represent a progressive left position, the “Berniecrats.”
One of the Politico article’s subtexts was that the primary threat against corporate Democrats isn’t strong due to campaign financing. A crafty spin is weaved into this argument. The article assumes by default that a candidate isn’t serious unless it is financed by big donors. Bernie Sanders raised nearly $230,000,000 in 2016, vastly coming from small donors. Despite this, the expectation in mainstream media is that you can’t be a serious candidate for office unless you take money from big donors. Justice Democrats have already raised $3,000,000 dollars, also from mainly small donors. Once again, a quick internet search would have cleared this matter up.
The second point: The progressive left isn’t garnering the necessary grassroots support needed to run primaries. This point is the most like satire. A “journalist” made the point that corporate Democrats are winning the grassroots, based on no evidence. Justice Democrats are partnered with grassroots groups such as Our Revolution, National Nurses United, and Brand New Congress. Most grassroots enthusiasm is moving toward the progressive left.
Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country. Bernie got a room full of Trump voters in West Virginia applaud universal healthcare. Mainstream media on TV and print use Bernie when necessary (usually to attack Trump) while ignoring the movement he stands with. The reality is that the left is growing in strength. The Democratic Party establishment may dislike this, but it doesn’t change the facts. Ignoring a tidal wave doesn’t mean you won’t get wet.
Recently a mayoral election happened in Birmingham, Alabama. A Bernie Sanders-backed candidate, Randall Woodfin, recently won a runoff election in a deep red state. His election comes months after Jackson Mississippi elected Chokwe Lumumba, also a Bernie-style candidate. In New York, Christine Pellegrino won a seat in the District 9 State Assembly, a district Donald Trump won by 23 points, and one a Democrat hasn’t won in decades.
Juxtapose the recent success of progressive candidates to that of the losses by corporate Democrats. Aside the fact that the Democrats lost over 1,000 seats on the national and local level, the Democrats have made poor performances in recent special elections. Jon Ossoff is the most high-profile example.
The DNC poured millions of dollars into his campaign. Ossoff parroted the tired centrist angle of the Democratic establishment. He wasn’t strong on universal healthcare, universal college, nor did he emphasize economic populism. His ads were void of content, only platitudes. Ossoff lost, of course.
The Democrats lost around four other special elections before Ossoff’s loss. Three out of those four ran their campaigns like Ossoff, the tired centrist model. In most cases, Democrats who run as centrists lose. This has been the case for years now and not just in the United States. If voters are given a choice between Republican or Republican-lite, they choose the Republican.
Democrats have to offer a stark alternative to defeat Republicans. The argument that progressives can’t win in red states like the deep south has been debunked twice this year. Voters will rally behind principle, as well as the candidate who fights for their issues. The centrist model is dying, and the Democratic Party will die with it if they do not embrace the left.
Ignoring the progressive left won’t prevent the movement from winning. A progressive wave is coming, make no mistake. Outlets like Politico can remain as ignorant as they like. The movement isn’t playing nice anymore. Outlets that make the case that progressives aren’t a threat to established Democrats aren’t paying attention, or are dishonest.
The establishment is ignoring the left at their own peril. Progressives have seen several successes so far, and these will likely grow in the coming year. Cenk Uygur, one of the co-founders of Justice Democrats and the TYT Network, said it best pertaining to corporate Democrats; “We are demanding complete surrender.”