I think the Democrat establishment feels threatened right now, by the gravitational pull of voters from their left, and plans to throw anyone who can be packaged as remotely progressive-ish out there. But Beto is a no-go. He’s a pretender whose claim to fame is that he lost to Ted Cruz. A superficial look at that tells me that must sting worse than losing to Trump (and that’s pretty sad-sorry Clinton fans). Kirsten Gillarybrand? Nah. She tries but doesn’t come off comfortable in her newly found faux-progressive skin. Buttigieg? Hard to tell right now. He is young, energetic, well liked, and supports a lot of the positions progressives hold dear. It could just be that flooding the market and letting competition sort them out is the solution to the immediate problem at hand, but the risk lies in voters falling into that lesser-evilism trap.
One thing that’s obvious: the Democrats will definitely cover the spectrum to distract from and try to dilute the raw energy in what has become, for all intent and purpose, “The AOC wing of the party” that they just can’t deny or control. Not to put pressure on her specifically, it’s just that she has proven that it can be done. She has shown that there are good people out there willing to lead within the Democratic party, and that the entrenched two-party establishment bears ALL the responsibility for denying voters those exciting (non-racist, non-bigoted, non-classist, non-misogynistic…) things to vote for.
So lately, the party establishment seems to be giving the okay (or at least pretending to) for more mainstream candidates to dip their toes into a little semi- Democratic Socialism. Millionaire media talk hosts on cable channels disguised as news shows are still a little reluctant to roll it around the critical-thought centers of their brains, instead grilling any who dare mention free-college or universal health care or living wages… and spitting out some version of “How can we possibly afford that?” But I have not seen cable pundits respond to this simple counterargument:
“We only have empty pockets when it comes to the morally right things to do, but when it comes to tax cuts for billionaires and when it comes to unlimited war we seem to be able to invent that money very easily,” (Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)
You would think that the supposed liberal, left-wing “mainstream media” would be pushing this, but Bernie-thought is a threat to THEM (the establishment and the media outlets depending on establishment money) as well. He he gets painted as the spoiler for true Democrats (“Yeah, but he’s NOT a Democrat” is their mantra) because true Democrats, I guess, side with war and tax cuts for billionaires, not with the people?
I have been trying to figure out whose cause the party truly champions. My N.Y. Assembly person (D) was a bit irked when I met with her following H.C.’s loss and I suggested opening up primaries to independent’s (if “big tents”, unity, and pulling in votes/voters is the goal). Indies tend to go “D”, I told her. She got a little angry, griping about providing “him” with support and infrastructure when he’s not even a Democrat. I understand that on the national level, the electoral college was the deciding factor (more so than bodies, because Clinton had the numbers on her side), but build a base and inspire buy-in at the state level, and that increased number of voters will statistically push the electorate towards the left.
I almost said “then Democrats don’t have any reason to get their hands on his email/donor list”, but we have generally had friendly meetings in the past and I wanted to try and keep it that way. Seems the party really resents him, both for his courage to push policies they dare not, and for his ability to inspire voters they will not. They have no interest in winning votes, just demanding them I guess. But they aren’t stupid, so they figure on suckering Berners in.
Which leads me to Warren.
An existing Dem office holder with that high of a profile does not run for the presidency without some strategic thinking; some meetings with leaders/insiders; discussions regarding platform; surrender of some principles, etc. Warren is acceptable progressive-bait, and while her antagonizing finance-sector creeps is fun to watch, loosening the nuts and bolts of their crimes has led to no substantial restructuring of the economy, no repeal of citizens united, minimal consequences (e.g. job loss and/or jail time) for the wealthiest and tip-toppiest of the criminal executives whose wealth and position are created (not earned) by soaking the nation and the masses. Lots of lefty talk, but small threat to the system that is.
Still, though, my dream ticket is a Warren/Sanders or Sanders/Warren. I don’t care who’s on top, but the Democrat establishment has not indicated honesty or consistency of will in tackling the issues AOC, Sanders, and Warren have made their names speaking out on. Quite the opposite, I think. Sputtering, pretending, deflecting, and denying the will of the voters on those issues while still feeling either entitled to the votes, or willing to sacrifice America to the greater evil instead of holding themselves accountable to the greater good.
That’s why I honestly think a Trump presidency was their 2016 fallback plan. They figured, worst case: after suffering through a Trump presidency, the Democrats could play hero and offer up to their voters someone slightly more center-right than Obama or Clinton and have it feel like that is a totally acceptable “lesser evil”.
Which leads me to Kamala Harris.
Her status as the party’s pick for 2020 seems pretty obvious. 20,000 people do not just show up in Oakland for a campaign kickoff . What is she, like the friggin’ Beatles doing an impromptu rooftop concert in the middle of London? Like people just hear her Kamala noise and wander inspired into the streets?
And this is why SHE’S the threat. Clearly there is an apparatus that would like to paint her to be the presumptive. She is smooth enough to say the almost right thing, and she ticks the superficial demo check list in enough places to get the resentful identity politic-ers heartily on board to push back the progressives.
But has it been so long since she laughed about cracking down on the poor parents of truant children? So long since she was dismissive of people wanting more schools and fewer jails, describing her need to have three locks on her door as evidence that you need to put people and keep people in jail. Stayed tough on low level/poor criminals and not-so-tough on banker crimes? Oversaw lawyers from her office who argued against early release for good behavior and time spent fighting wildfires for indentured servitude wages?
When the Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its prison population because of the terrible conditions created by overcrowding, state attorneys argued that “if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.” (Nonprofit Quarterly, August 10, 2018)
Disclosure, Harris claims to have been unaware of this, but her willingness to incarcerate and to prioritize prisons over schools makes me wonder.
We need transparency to fully vet her as a candidate. We need to see her donor list. We need to know who chartered buses and got permits to bring in the crowd that showed up.
AND we need to go beyond that.
If freshman lawmakers are being oriented to their jobs/expectations by a string of CEOs and bankers, and being told “You’re in over your heads” and “You don’t know how the game is played” by rats like Gary Cohn, then we need to know who puts that schedule and list of speakers together and the first people we ask are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Then we go to Cohen and have him describe the game and how it’s played in his estimation.
Once we know the game, we decide whether on not we like it, want it and/or want to scrap it or change the rules. I’m not sure that Harris would be on board with that.