Democratic leaders should think twice before crushing major progressive challenges


Tuesday Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, for the November special election to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, looks like an extension of the acrimonious 2016 presidential primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. That’s because one of Sanders’ most prominent allies, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, is seeking the nomination. And because his sometimes acerbic style has alienated Senior Democrats with very long memoirs, leading Democrats, including Rep. Jim Clyburn (DN.C.), the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and Clinton herself, have threw their considerable weight behind Turner’s opponent, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairperson Shontel Brown, who since deleted Turner’s first advance. Even Marcia Fudge’s mother has Between on anti-Turner action.

What is it extremely secure democratic seat Who caught the attention of the party’s biggest hitters? Like many of Sanders’ most prominent supporters, Turner’s rhetoric in 2016 and 2020 seemed at times designed to alienate the kind of normalized Democrats who, let’s remember, handed the party’s presidential nomination to Clinton in 2016 and then to Biden. in 2020. She was also the co-chair of Sanders’ unsuccessful 2020 candidacy, so it’s not like she’s a surrogate turned rogue on a talk show. Last summer she told a Atlantic journalist that voting for Biden in the general election was like “You’ve got a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you have to do is eat half of it instead of everything.”

That Turner drew a powerful opponent into this race is not a DNC plot, and Brown’s depictions as some kind of neolib puppet in the left-wing press are not particularly convincing. There is no law of political thermodynamics that says the progressive wing of the party is entitled to this seat, and Hillary Clinton, who is an ordinary citizen, can continue to wage guerrilla warfare against anyone she blames for. her loss in 2016, if she will, and that certainly includes Bernie Sanders and his best allies. In What happened, the post-2016 book she wrote trying to make sense of her loss to Donald Trump, Sanders was very present. She criticized him for destroying his public image by “attacking my character” in a way that caused “lasting damage” to the general election.

Clinton almost certainly has a particular grudge against Turner, who was banned to deliver a speech naming Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Unlike Sanders himself, Turner never supported Clinton in the general election. She was offered the Green Party vice-presidential nomination that summer, but declined. “I’m a Democrat, and it’s worth fighting for that,” she said. said at the time. Video which recently surfaced of Turner with Green Party con artist Jill Stein in July 2016 has not helped smooth out relations with the party establishment.

But Democratic leaders are losing sight of the bigger picture here. Throughout modern American history, both sides have avoided third party challenges in two ways. The first is to co-opt their political ideas. You can draw a straight line from Ross Perot’s 1992 independent campaign for the presidency and the GOP 1994 Contract with America, which endorsed many of Perot’s ideas, including a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and congressional term limits.

When he ran again in 1996, Perot’s share of the vote collapsed by more than half and his Reform Party now exists mostly as a website. Political scientists Shigeo Hirano and James M. Snyder also convincingly argued in a 2007 article that the overall decline in third party representation in Congress was primarily due to the shift of the Democratic Party to the left in the 1930s and the aspiration of political ideas from third parties on the left like the Peasants Labor Party.

Appropriating insurgent ideas is a way for the big parties to prevent third party candidates from acting like spoilers. Another organizes the party primaries themselves. The potential to gradually transform the party from within, rather than mounting a ruinous challenge from outside the two-party system, gives the base Sanders / AOC strong incentives to stay and fight for their vision within the Party. democrat. This means that even if you lose the leadership struggle, as progressives did in 2016 and 2020, there are still paths to power that offer hope for future change.

If Democratic leaders believe that Turner-style embers will not be enough in upscale neighborhoods, that’s one thing. But it’s a Democratic landslide district that Fudge (now Biden’s Housing and Urban Development secretary) won by more than 60 points in 2020. By so conspicuously weighing in for Shontel Brown, what party leaders are saying , in fact, it is not to defend this seat. It’s because they don’t think Turner or someone like her is in Congress at all. And that’s not really a message you want to send to Young Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, no matter what you think of Turner.

The long-standing generational divide in US politics is well known, with voters under 29 backing Joe Biden against Donald Trump by more than 20 points. But Democrats have their own issues with the whole TikTok. State after state, Biden’s main victories were propelled by older voters, while the Young Democrats overwhelmingly opted for Sanders or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. In the decisive Super Tuesday competitions that effectively ended the Sanders campaign, the Vermont senator won an estimate 63 percent of 18-29 year olds and 42 percent of voters between 30 and 44 years old. These voters want radical change and are not necessarily as put off as older voters are by the edges of the progressive left against the Democratic establishment.

Most people worry that Millennials and Gen Z are heading to the right, but the real threat is that the 70-year-old leadership of the party will indefinitely maintain their grip on Democratic Party policies and lead radical young voters to form a party. credible progressive alternative. Ask your closest Canadian how fun it is to have two different parties represent the left in our common electoral system, Plurality of single-member constituencies, which awards most positions in Congress to a single winner, even if that person does not have a majority. Dividing the left is a Republican dream come true and could save the GOP from its own potential demographic oblivion as the party’s main supporters die.

If these young activists feel like the Democratic Party as an institution is spinning around wagons with a siege mentality whenever a progressive approaches Congress, they will be much easier prey to others. And the health of the Democratic Party grows in importance as the Republican Party drift further and further into conspiratorial authoritarianism. If Democrats – left, right and center – can’t stay focused on far-right threats to our political system, they might find that whoever wins this race will spend the rest of their career moving to the sifting through the ashes of American democracy. rather than making policies.

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