Tag: Democratic establishment

Tom Perriello is a fighter for Virginia. Period.

Today, Virginians will go to the polls to vote on major-party nominees for Governor of Virginia and other state offices. The most intriguing race on the Virginia ballot today is the Democratic primary for governor, in which Lieutenant Governor Ralph Shearer Northam is seeking a promotion against Thomas Stuart Price “Tom” Perriello, a former U.S. Representative and U.S. State Department official.

At first glance, the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary might seem to an internet observer of Virginia politics, such as me, like a rerun of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Virginia primary against Bernie Sanders. However, Ralph Northam is no Hillary Clinton, and Tom Perriello is no Bernie Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine, wrote this primer piece about the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary, and here is how he described the candidates:

Likewise, the contest isn’t a race between a liberal or a moderate, or between heterodoxy and orthodoxy. Both (Ralph) Northam and (Tom) Perriello have blemishes on their records that render them imperfect avatars of the progressive movement. Northam backed George W. Bush for president in 2004, and Perriello voted for an anti-abortion amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Both have apologized for their respective apostasy. Both, if elected, would be among the most liberal governors in the state’s history, having campaigned on free community college, a $15 minimum wage, and extensive job training.

Where they differ is in their larger view of where the state’s problems lie. Northam roots Virginia’s ills in gridlock and bills himself as the candidate best able to break that gridlock. “The politics of getting things done in Richmond can be very complicated, and it takes someone who has spent the time to know the issues and develop the relationships with key members of both parties to make progress,” said the lieutenant governor in a Washington Post interview.

Perriello, however, takes a broader view, seeking to change a political culture that is beholden to corporate interests and monopolistic power. “We have a crazy system in Virginia, where we allow unlimited corporate contributions,” said Perriello in a March interview with the American Prospect magazine (full disclosure: (Bouie) worked there from 2010 to 2013). “In an era of deep partisanship in Richmond, the only truly bipartisan consensus is taking money from Dominion Power.” Perriello has positioned himself against entrenched interests and for the small towns, rural enclaves, and inner cities that encompass the state’s landscape. It’s a variation on the populism of Bernie’s campaign, one that captures the spirit of Sanders’ appeal even if it doesn’t match the particulars.

(added context mine)

Again, you do see common themes of the 2016 presidential primaries/caucuses at play, but one thing that Perriello has done that Sanders completely failed at was actually trying to win over a diverse coalition of Democratic voters, which is necessary in Virginia, since a significant majority of Virginia Democratic primary voters are female and people of color are typically around one-third of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate and could be as much as 40% of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate this year. Very early on in his campaign, and unusually for a candidate who has also tried to win over white rural voters, Perriello wrote a Medium post about the strong correlation between income inequality and racial inequality in Virginia. Even if you are, like me, not from Virginia, I strongly recommend reading Perriello’s post, because it’s an important lesson for progressive outreach to people of color.

I encourage Virginia voters who have not already cast an absentee ballot to vote in the Democratic primary for Tom Perriello today!

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ENDORSEMENT: Jimmy Anderson for 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin

I proudly endorse Wisconsin State Assembly candidate Jimmy Anderson for the Democratic nomination in the 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin.

Before I rage against the Democratic establishment yet another time (you know it’s coming), I’ll say a few things about the candidate that I’m endorsing. Jimmy Anderson was nearly killed by a drunk driver in 2010, in fact, Anderson is a quadriplegic as a result of the injuries he sustained in an automobile crash. After finishing law school, Anderson founded a non-profit group that gives out free breathalyzers and helps victims of drunk drivers with various expenses. Anderson is a progressive-minded Wisconsinite who will fight for government transparency, restore workers’ rights, protect Wisconsin’s environment, and fight for equal rights. This press release from almost a week ago lists Katie Belanger, a political consultant and LGBT rights advocate, as Anderson’s campaign treasurer.

Now, about that pesky Democratic establishment…Anderson is running for a state assembly seat that is currently held by another “Democrat” (if you wish to refer to him as such), Robb Kahl. Kahl supported Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during his 2010 campaign, and, thanks to people like Kahl supporting Walker, Walker and his far-right Republican allies went on to bust labor unions in Wisconsin, repeal environmental regulations, drive down wages, and make it harder for women to ensure that they’re paid the same as their male counterparts, among other things. To say the least, Kahl and his buddies in the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin are not fond of the idea of someone running against him, and, while they didn’t make fun of Anderson’s disability, they did something that is, in my opinion, even worse:

This is such a distraction,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. “Think about this. Hopefully all 35 of us (Democrats in the Assembly) are going to come out strongly for Robb. Every dollar and every door that we do for our colleague is another dollar and another door that we’re not doing in a Republican district that we can win. When we pick up a seat or two fewer in the fall, I’m going to think about these so-called progressive hypocrites that went after this unnecessary seat to make themselves happy or to high-five their friends at the co-op.”

[…]

Hintz said he generally has mixed feelings about primary challenges in safe districts, adding that it’s not enough for the incumbent to have voted with the party. Kahl, he said, has been a team player who works to get Democrats elected throughout the state.

[…]

“I’m in the business of trying to elect more Democrats, not trying to increase the size of the Solidarity Singers,” Hintz said.

Gordon Hintz, who operated a motor vehicle without proof of insurance and, before that, was fined over $2,000 for sexual misconduct, is also the type of guy who disparages progressives in Dane County, Wisconsin’s second-largest county by population for their way of life, believes that democracy is a distraction, thinks that state legislators should spend more time getting political cronies elected than legislating, and attacks people for singing.

If Hintz’s remarks weren’t offensive enough, Kahl himself, who hasn’t officially decided whether or not to run for re-election, went full elitist when asked about Anderson’s candidacy:

Kahl has yet to announce whether he’ll run for reelection. “Jimmy’s been talking about running for a couple of months now, so this isn’t a surprise,” Kahl says. “Jimmy has a compelling life story, but he’s never held elected office, and the people in my district know me, they know that I run to serve, and I will have their support if seeking the nomination is what I decide to do.”

According to Article IV, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution, anyone who is a resident of Wisconsin for at least one calendar year before the election, and is legally eligible to vote, can run for state assembly in the district in which he or she resides. For Kahl to attack Anderson for not having held prior elected office is, in my opinion, elitist, since both Kahl and Anderson both meet the legal qualifications to run for state assembly in the 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin.

If you’re tired of royalist, elitist, patronizing, demeaning, and out-of-touch political insiders thinking that the Democratic Party should be an exclusive club for them and their cronies, then support Jimmy Anderson for Wisconsin State Assembly in the 47th Assembly District.

ENDORSEMENT: Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate in Maryland

I proudly and unapologetically endorse Donna Edwards for the open U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)!

Donna is a strong champion of progressive values on a wide array of issues. Donna fought to protect Social Security benefits by taking on President Obama and corporate Democrats in Congress when they tried to cut Social Security benefits, and she’s strongly opposed Republican-backed efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Additionally, Donna is a staunch opponent of big-money politics, and supports amending the U.S. Constitution to repeal disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC. Furthermore, Donna strongly supports common-sense measures designed to end gun violence in America. Also, Donna is strongly pro-choice and pro-equal pay.

Donna’s opposition in the Democratic primary is Chris Van Hollen, a political crony of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer who supported Obama’s plan to cut Social Security benefits. One of Van Hollen’s supporters is Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the Maryland state senate president. Miller said that he thought that Van Hollen was “born to the job” of being a U.S. Senator:

Rep. Donna F. Edwards wants her supporters to know that one of the most powerful Democrats in Maryland backs her opponent in the state’s Democratic Senate primary. In particular, she wants them to know that Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. thinks Rep. Chris Van Hollen was “born to the job.”

“Born to the job?” she wrote Tuesday in a fundraising email. “The fact is, our country’s systems and institutions have largely been led by people who have always looked like that senior elected official, not like me. . . . I don’t believe anyone in this country was born to anything.”

The fact of the matter is that nobody in this country is born to any kind of job, and anyone who thinks that anyone is born to a political office of any kind doesn’t believe in democracy.

Donna marches to the beat of her own drum and fights for progressive values on many important issues, even if it means taking on the leadership of her own party. That’s the kind of strong leadership that Maryland needs and deserves. You can learn more about Donna’s campaign to become Maryland’s next U.S. Senator here.

Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright offend women who support Bernie

AUTHOR’S NOTE: From this point forward in the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, “Hillary” refers to Hillary Clinton, and “Bernie” refers to Bernie Sanders.


This is really one of those times where, admittedly, I wish I had a female co-blogger to help push back against the offensive remarks by some of Hillary’s supporters towards women who support Bernie.

If you’re wondering what I was referring to in the above paragraph, I’m referring to recent remarks by women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, both Hillary supporters. In both cases, offensive remarks were made about women who support Bernie.

Steinem went on the HBO show of Bernie backer Bill Maher (YouTube video here, Steinem’s remarks about Bernie supporters begin at the 3:50 mark) and claimed that women who support Bernie are only doing so to meet men:

The feminist icon made an alarmingly sexist remark on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night, suggesting that young, female supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders only support him because dudes do, too.

Steinem was discussing Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sanders. When Maher noted the Vermont senator’s popularity with young women, Steinem responded with her theory that women get more “radical” as they get older.

“When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie,” she said.

I’m not going to comment on Steinem’s theory about men becoming more conservative, and women becoming more liberal, as they get older, since I’ve not seen any scientific study on that matter. However, what I will say is that women who support Bernie are not doing so because they want to meet men. After all, if they did, I’d probably have a girlfriend by now (in reality, I don’t have or want a girlfriend). Women who support Bernie support him because they share and support many of his values and ideas, such as restoring good government, making college truly affordable, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, and significantly reducing health care costs.

Not to be outdone by Steinem, Albright claimed that women who support Bernie are going to hell:

Former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright attempted to shame young women voters at a Hillary Clinton campaign event on Saturday, repeating her now-famous line: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

[…]

The 78-year-old diplomat, who served in the Bill Clinton White House, complained that some young women “don’t understand the importance of why young women have to support Hillary Clinton.”

In my opinion, Albright’s remarks were even worse than Steinem’s remarks for one reason. To claim that women who don’t support a particular candidate are going to hell and saying that they have to support a particular candidate is basically a way of saying that you don’t believe in democracy, without actually saying that. Democracy is about choosing between political candidates, not forcing someone to support a particular political candidate.

While women make up approximately 56-58% of the Democratic primary and caucus electorate nationwide due to the institutional gender gap in American politics, you cannot completely run on shaming women into supporting a female candidate and win nationally, even in a Democratic primary or caucus. The Democratic Party cannot be seen as being condescending towards women who don’t see eye-to-eye with the party elites, or we’ll end up with a President Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or some other Republican.

Four state-level Democratic Party organizations caught coordinating with the Hillary Clinton campaign

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Just because a political party coordinates with a political candidate does not necessarily mean that said coordination is illegal. I am unsure of whether or not it is legally permissible for a political party to set up a political fund in coordination with a political candidate.


State-level Democratic Party organizations in Mississippi, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin are officially coordinating, in a manner which I’m not sure of the legality of, with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Specifically, they’re creating so-called “victory funds”, which are designed to funnel money to both the state party organizations and the Clinton campaign, in those four states:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has received commitments from four Democratic state parties, including in the crucial proving ground of New Hampshire, to enter joint fund-raising agreements with the campaign just as the nomination battle is beginning.

The four are a small fraction of the dozens of state parties that the Hillary for America campaign has asked to join such agreements. Many are still considering the request; some officials said they are working through how the arrangement would be put into effect while the nominating fight is underway.

Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin have also signed agreements with the Clinton team, according to two people briefed on the issue who were not authorized to speak publicly. Virginia, a critical general election battleground, is home to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Mrs. Clinton’s and a former Democratic National Committee chairman.

If you want to know what the biggest problem affecting our nation’s political and electoral system is, look no further than those damn Clintons and the failed, out-of-touch, out-of-ideas Democratic establishment. Big money corrupting the political system in this country is a very serious problem, and the Clintons and the Democratic leadership at all levels is just as much of a personification of the problem as the right-wing Koch Brothers are.

In regards to Wisconsin, this is an apparent violation of Article VIII of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Constitution, which requires “unusual circumstances” and a two-thirds supermajority vote of the party’s administrative committee for the party to endorse and support a candidate in a contested primary, neither of which have, to my knowledge, taken place in regards to the 2016 presidential election. I’m not sure if the constitutions and/or by-laws of Democratic Party organizations in the other three states (Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Virginia) have any clause requiring party neutrality in nomination contests in most or all circumstances and/or providing a formal process for an endorsement by the state party.

Martha Laning, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman, reportedly told a Bernie Sanders supporter that “we (referring to the state party) have to be like Switzerland (i.e., neutral) until after the nomination” at a Democratic picnic somewhere in Wisconsin. At the same time Laning is telling Sanders supporters in Wisconsin that the state party is supposed to be neutral in regards to the presidential nomination contest, the party that she leads is coordinating with the Clinton campaign to give money to the Clinton campaign. That is some blatant hypocrisy right there.

Does the Democratic establishment overemphasize student loan reform and college affordability?

Make no mistake about it, the growing student debt problem in this country is one of the most serious problems facing this country. However, I believe that heavily emphasizing student loan reform and other college affordability measures hurts Democrats electorally.

There are two reasons why I believe that making student loan reform and other college affordability measures a key part of a Democratic campaign’s message, as Hillary Clinton has done, runs the risk of being an electoral loser for Democrats. First, most Americans don’t really care about student debt, unless they’re directly impacted by it. Secondly, emphasizing college affordability as a key part of a campaign message only resonates with voters that are directly impacted by student debt (mostly younger voters who are either in college or recently graduated from college), in effect, leaving blue-collar voters, such as poor minorities and white working-class people, essentially abandoned by the political party that best represents their interests, which is the Democratic Party.

Would I suggest that Democratic candidates drop college affordability plans altogether? Absolutely not. Would I suggest that Democrats not talk about student loan reform and college affordability? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe that the student debt problem in this country needs to be seriously addressed, as Bernie Sanders has done with his plan to tax Wall Street speculation to pay for a plan for more affordable higher education in America. However, Democrats cannot afford to abandon poor and working-class voters by overemphasizing an issue that few people in this country seem to care about.

The Democratic establishment brings out their worst people to attack Bernie Sanders

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who probably would have been elected Mayor of New York City two years ago had it not been for the infamous Carlos Danger sexting scandal derailing his campaign, hasn’t officially endorsed a presidential candidate to my knowledge. However, that hasn’t stopped Weiner from attacking Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for running for the Democratic presidential nomination:

Weiner charged that Sanders has never expressed a desire to become a Democrat before entering the 2016 race.

“He was a proud socialist and thought the institutional Democratic Party was too cautious and lacking in imagination,” he said of his time in Congress with Sanders.

Weiner noted that Sanders’ reluctance to go Democrat earlier leaves the party’s voters with unanswered questions about his motivations.

This is exactly why many progressives view the Democratic Party, the left’s natural home in the two-party system that dominates American politics, as not accommodating to them. Anthony Weiner effectively said that he only wants people who are 100% loyal to Democratic Party to run for the party’s nomination for president. Not everybody who supports Democratic and progressive values has been a Democrat for their entire lifetime. In fact, Hillary Clinton was once a Republican, and, given Weiner’s close ties to the Clintons, it would absolutely shock me if he did not endorse Hillary Clinton for president, so it’s hypocritical for anyone who supports either Hillary or another Democratic presidential candidate who doesn’t have 100% lifelong loyalty to the party to attack Bernie Sanders for running as a major-party candidate for president. The Democratic Party should be as inclusive as possible while, at the same time, aggressively promoting progressive values on important issues that affect the American people.

Also, Bernie isn’t interested in being a third-party spoiler like Ralph Nader was in the 2000 presidential election (although five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stole that election for George W. Bush. He’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination because the Democratic Party’s values are far closer to his progressive values than the values of the far-right Republican Party. As much as I despise the two-party system in this country, there’s only two political parties in this country that nominates presidential candidates and can win a general election for president, so anyone who wants to be seen as a credible presidential candidate has to run for the nomination of one of the major political parties.

The fact that some of the worst people in the Democratic establishment are attacking Bernie Sanders is damaging Hillary Clinton’s campaign and only helping Bernie build even more momentum for his presidential campaign.

ENDORSEMENT: Nancy Rotering for 10th Congressional District of Illinois

While I live in a different Illinois congressional district, I’m proud to endorse Nancy Rotering in the U.S. House race in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois, which includes much of Lake County and parts of northern Cook County.

Prior to entering electoral politics, Rotering earned college degrees from three of the most well-respected universities in the country, two of which are located in Illinois, and worked as a finance executive for General Motors. As Mayor of Highland Park, Illinois, Rotering helped establish a legal aid clinic to, among other things, help apartment renters take on bad landlords who wronged them. Rotering has long been committed to empowering voters and protecting the environment, as she is an active member of the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club. Rotering is also a strong supporter of common-sense gun safety measures.

Rotering’s Democratic primary challenger, Brad Schneider, is a D.C. insider who has the backing of his fellow political insiders, including failed Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schneider is part of the same failed Democratic establishment that wants to implement a corporate, pro-Wall Street agenda in this country. Schneider has used dirty tricks to win Democratic primaries before, and that’s because he and his insider buddies don’t care about the people of the 10th District of Illinois.

I strongly encourage voters in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois to vote in the Democratic primary for Nancy Rotering. You can view Rotering’s website here, and her campaign also maintains Facebook and Twitter pages.