Progressives launch Justice Democrats

David Weigel reports at the Washington Post about a new Progressive Democrat organization. Progressives launch ‘Justice Democrats’ to counter party’s ‘corporate’ legislators:

Cenk Uygur, founder of the Young Turks video network that has become virally popular among progressive voters, is launching a project called Justice Democrats to defeat members of the Democratic Party who have cast votes seen as unacceptable.

“The aim in 2018 is to put a significant number of Justice Democrats in the Congress. The aim for 2020 is to more significantly take over the Democratic Party,” Uygur said. “If they’re going to continue to be corporate Democrats, that’s doomed for failure for the rest of time.”

Justice Democrats cohered after the 2016 election, when Uygur began talking to veterans of the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about ways to challenge Democrats from the left. The Justice Democrats project counts Saikat Chakrabarti and Zack Exley, two tech veterans of the Sanders campaign, among its founders; their first goal was to provide the infrastructure and resources for progressives who wanted to challenge “corporate Democrats.”

In the near term, that meant finding people who could run against the 13 Democratic senators who opposed a Sanders-backed measure to make it easier to import prescription drugs from Canada.

“Some members of the party that are already in the Progressive Caucus, we’re unlikely to primary. We want to focus on getting strong progressives into Congress,” Uygur said. “What’s the point of primarying Representative Raúl Grijalva [D-Ariz.] if you want to do that? There will be a small number of people who ran once before, and we can look at them again. But do we want to challenge Senator Cory Booker [D-N.J.]? That’s a no-brainer.”

The Justice Democrats platform mirrors much of what Sanders ran on, some of which had been adopted into the 2016 Democratic platform. Where Sanders called for renegotiating trade deals, the platform doubles down. Democrats have called for infrastructure spending; the platform calls for the party to “invest billions in rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, schools, levees, airports etc.” It goes even further than Sanders, however, in asking candidates to ban foreign aid to human rights violators.

All of that builds on what had been a time of expansion for the Young Turks. After the election, the site crowdfunded nearly $1 million to expand its team and roster of contributors. The Justice Democrats would follow the same model.

“I was hoping someone else would do this, but when no one else was,” Uygur said, “somebody had to do it.”

So Cenk Uygur and the Young Turks want to be the left’s answer to Steve Bannon and Breitbart? Do we really want more celebrity politics?

Internecine party warfare and purges for ideological purity, like the Cultural Revolution in China, are exactly what Trump wants and needs to gain a second term in office and to destroy whatever progressive future Cenk Uygur might imagine.

D.R. Tucker at the Political Animal blog addressed this the other day. Despite Yesterday’s Uprising, We Could Still Wind Up with Two Terms of Trump:

There’s an old West Indian saying that goes, “Hard ears that don’t hear, by and by will feel.” It’s not irrational to be concerned that this proverb will be proven true three years from now.

The 2020 Presidential election will be here before too long, and if the Democratic Party goes into the general election divided–if the party cannot unify behind whoever becomes Trump’s challenger, whether that challenger is a bona fide progressive or a supposed centrist–Trump will unquestionably become a two-term President. If that prospect frightens you, it should.

It will not matter if the economy has slowed down by November 3, 2020. It will not matter if Mr. Trump has mired us in an unwinnable war or two. It will not matter if Trump has broken key promises to members of his base. And it certainly won’t matter if Trump continues fondling his ego in public, as he did in his speech to the CIA yesterday. All Trump needs is a broken and divided Democratic Party–a party unable to harness the momentum generated by yesterday’s historic Women’s Marches across the country–to do it again.

It will be horrifying if a progressive secures the Democratic nomination, only to receive tepid support from members of the party who have problems with populism. It will be equally horrifying if a supposed centrist secures the Democratic nomination, only to be regarded with scorn by those who backed a undisputed progressive rival.

A unified Democratic Party could be an unstoppable political force; unity between the party’s left and “middle” would be the GOP’s worst nightmare. Conversely, when Democrats take up arms against one another, Republicans always prosper.

Imagine what would happen to this country if a 2020 Democratic nominee proved unable to truly unify the party. Today is the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which liberated American women. If a Democratic nominee failed to unify the party and thus came up short against Trump, the 45th President would have a clear path towards establishing an anti-Roe majority on the Supreme Court (assuming Republicans were still in control of the Senate after the 2020 Congressional elections). By the time Trump left office in 2025, the Supreme Court would be largely comprised of jurists whose interpretation of the Constitution would take us back to the right days of Lochner v. New York.

For an explanation of Lochner, see my post George Will’s radical ‘litmus test’ for a return to the Lochner era.

Imagine what two terms of Trump would do to women’s rights, to unions and workers, to the climate, to education, to civil rights, to health care, voting rights. Imagine the worst… and realize that it will happen if the 2020 Democratic nominee is sabotaged by squabbling.

Will we bear witness to another destructive fight between factions in the Democratic Party? Will we bear witness to an obsession with scrutinizing whether an allegedly “centrist” Democratic nominee took one nickel in campaign contributions from Wall Street, or, conversely, nonsensical navel-gazing over whether a strongly progressive Democratic nominee is “too far left” to win a general election? Will we bear witness to the opposite of unity?

If Democrats never forget that sick feeling they had in their stomachs when Trump was declared the winner of the Electoral College–the sick feeling that motivated the concerned citizens who took to the streets yesterday–they’ll remain focused on the most important goal going into the 2020 Presidential election. If they allow petty feuding to obscure that goal, Trump will have four more years to radically remake this country. For Democrats, it’s either war against Trump or war against each other. The former is winnable. The latter is a quagmire.

I am all for more liberal and progressive Democrats being elected to office. But your enemy is not your fellow Democrat who may disagree with you on a particular issue. “Big tent” political parties embrace a variety of opinions and do not impose ideological purity tests, as does the GOP. The enemy is ‘Trumpism,’ the new American fascism, and never forget it. Forming the proverbial “circular firing squad” that Democrats are so noted for will only aid Trump.

25 Responses to Progressives launch Justice Democrats

  1. A few of today’s headlines on Democracy Now:

    Trump Takes Action to Revive Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines

    Canada: 50,000 Gallons of Oil Spill from Saskatchewan Pipeline

    Trump to Sign Executive Orders to Ban Refugees from Coming to U.S.

    Trump to Sign Executive Order to Expand Border Wall, Eliminate Sanctuary Cities

    Trump Considering Reviving George W. Bush-Era CIA Black Sites

    Trump Freezes EPA Contracts and Imposes Gag Order on Agency

    Badlands National Park Goes Rogue, Tweeting Facts About Climate Change

    Trump Calls for Probe of Voter Fraud as He Continues to Lie About U.S. Election Results

    Trump Taps 2 More from Breitbart to Top Administration Positions

    Trump Considering Extreme Anti-Abortion Judge for Supreme Court

    Trump Threatens to “Send in the Feds” to Address Gun Violence in Chicago

    Trump Sued for Violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause

    Israel Approves Construction of Jewish-Only Settlements in West Bank, E. Jerusalem

    Trump Reinstates Global Gag Rule, Barring Funds for Abortion Education & Services

    https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/25/headlines

  2. Senator John Kavanagh

    Could someone explain that old West Indian saying?

    • I was wondering if it was “Indian” as (1) the Native Americans, (2) the West Indians (as in the Carribean), (3) the Indians (as in the Asian Sub-continent), or (4) the Indians (as in the Baseball Team)??

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      You could always go to the article at the Political Animal blog and ask D.R. Tucker himself.

  3. Here’s what I don’t understand: Why is that people who supposedly don’t have problems with progressives but who just are concerned about party unity always want the progressive candidates to be the ones sacrificed for the sake of that unity?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to go to Cory Booker and say “Hey, Cory, we need unity this time around, and you’re just too divisive after you carried water for the pharma industry.”

    • Something tells me that “unity” in the democrat party is a long way off.

      ————————————–

      On a different subject, Bob, your earlier message about where the Nation is going has been on my mind quite a bit. It caused a lot of thins I have been pondering to come together and I came to a bit of an epiphany (at for me it was an epiphany): I think we are well into our Second Civil War. I studied the First Civil War extensively, both as a personal interest and as formal study in some Army Schools I attended. Setting aside the issue of slavery, we had less contentious issues and emotions before the start of the First Civil War than exists today. We were less divided as a people prior to the First Civil War. Like the First Civil War during the 1850s, it has not yet entered a shooting stage, but I think that is just a matter of time. More and more we are seeing rioting on the flimsiest of reasons that turns into city burning. Gun sales reach record levels each year. Ammunition flies off the sales shelves as fast as it can be made and/or imported, and is being sold at astounding record levels. Personal confrontations over political issues are on the rise, as are assaults. I could go on, but the point is that we are seeing less restraint and increasing violence over politics while, at the same time, the gap between factions grows. If I am correct, we are in for some interesting times…and I think I am correct based on the signs of the time.

      Are you more optimistic than I?

      • I don’t see the conditions for another civil war. There would need to be a divide among the wealthy for that to happen, as there was prior to the Civil War. A rebellion is more of a possibility, but the wealthy so far have done a fantastic job of sowing division among the oppressed, which prevents that from happening. The folks capable of rebelling, the ones with all the guns and ammo you noticed being purchased at a record pace, largely believe Blacks and immigrants are the source of their problems. Were they ever to figure out what’s actually going on, there would be quite the rebellion, but I just don’t see that happen. Read “Strangers in Their Own Land” and you’ll see why.

        • Thank you for the book reccommendation. I will find a copy and read it. And thanks for your thoughts on the subject…

      • “Setting aside the issue of slavery, we had less contentious issues and emotions before the start of the First Civil War than exists today.”

        Interesting. How do you “set aside the issue of slavery” and talk about the American Civil War?

        I will make no further comment.

        • My goodness, Liza. I was making the point that we have no comparable issue to slavery today; NOT that slavery was a insignificant issue. I fear you are being deliberately obtuse in misunderstanding for the sake of mockery alone. However, if that is what you choose to do, it is extremely disingenuous of you to throw out a little “bomb” like that and then run away saying, “I have nothing further to say about that”.

    • “Why is that people who supposedly don’t have problems with progressives but who just are concerned about party unity always want the progressive candidates to be the ones sacrificed for the sake of that unity?”

      Good question, Bob.

      My observation over the years has been that the Democratic party leadership operates under the flawed assumption that, in most cases, support for progressive candidates and issues is not sufficient in the broader electorate to win elections or pass legislation. And they assume that they will always have progressive support for their own candidates and issues because they believe progressives have no alternative.

      The 2016 Democratic primaries and the general election, if nothing else, proved that this way of running the party is doomed from now until they re-invent themselves as a genuinely inclusive party of the people.

      Bernie Sanders’ campaign is ample evidence that a progressive candidate who is also a decent, honest, scandal-free human being can run competitively within the two party framework that we seem to be stuck with. And he did this despite the wrongful opposition of the Democratic party leadership that was vested in his defeat in favor of promoting their own candidate. Now, of course, we can only imagine the depth and breadth of the dire consequences of this epic failure.

      If Bernie’s campaign been covered by MSM and not just social media, his support would have been even more immense and it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he could have won the nomination and later the presidency.

      The Democrats gave this one away, to be sure. And now, in their battered condition, they have over half the nation looking to them to take on the crisis at hand and defend what is left of our democracy.

      I think that the answer to your question, Bob, is that in 2016 the Democrats got caught between an electorate that has fundamentally changed and a leadership determined to follow their preordained path. They thought they could squash and silence Bernie without giving much consideration to the millions of people who aligned themselves with his campaign. Those people would just have to fall in line. Period. And now they seem unable to think any other way which is why they need to go.

      • I think it’s because the DNC has been trying to model themselves on the GOP ‘business’ model of raising large sums of money from big corporate donors and launching lots of front organizations and astroturf campaigns.

        But that model just doesn’t work, because the people they are trying to appeal to have a fundamentally different mindset about the world and about voting. Beyond the Truman quote I posted below, the other saying that comes to mind: “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line”. That’s how the left wins – when they have inspiring candidates that captivate the marginal voter into action. Obama won. We have no Presidents Gore, Kerry, or Clinton II.

        • “That’s how the left wins – when they have inspiring candidates that captivate the marginal voter into action.”

          Excellent point. And Hillary was clearly not that candidate. This idea that someone with a 30 year public history can be re-imagined in the age of social media is just crazy.

      • “My observation over the years has been that the Democratic party leadership operates under the flawed assumption that, in most cases, support for progressive candidates and issues is not sufficient in the broader electorate to win elections or pass legislation.”

        Liza, I disagree in what I think is a critical respect. It’s not an assumption; it’s an excuse. That leadership wants to choose candidates and otherwise act in the manner desired by their wealthy benefactors. I don’t think they’re as incompetent as you suggest. I think it’s by design. Check out Frank’s book, Listen Liberal. He makes a compelling case.

        2016 was not the first time the strategy failed. Think back to 2004. They undermined Dean to nominate Kerry, at a time when the electorate was furious about the Iraq War and was responding to Dean. They even could have turned to Edwards and probably been okay, but Edwards, with this “two Americas” theme, was as offensive to their benefactors as Sanders. I’ll bet if you pulled the emails in 2004 you’d find the DNC working behind the scenes for Kerry And against first Dean, then Edwards) the same way it did for Clinton last year.

        • I absolutely agree, Bob, “excuse” is a much better word. And because these leaders have been making this excuse for so long and mostly getting their way, they have severed themselves from the realities on the ground while deluding themselves that they can sell the same tripe to the voters over and over, election after election.

          Well, establishment Democrats, meet social media, meet the millenials, etc… They have missed so much and they still don’t get it. They just simply need to be replaced.

      • Thoughtful analysis, Liza. One of the best I have read, here or elsewhere.

        • Awww, thank you, Steve. To quote my favorite nephew when he was three years old, “Does that mean you like me again?” 🙂

          • Liza, I never stopped liking you. You post thought provoking messages, are extremely articulate, have a sharp and well ordered mind, and are just peckish enough to make things interesting. I like reading what you write.

  4. Your ‘ideological purity tests’ are our standards. At what point is an individual too far to the right (or, what we in the US call the center) to be worth supporting? The idea that people who fancy themselves progressives should blindly vote for whichever candidate sticks a (D) after their name is utterly repulsive. Certainly, there is some level at which each individual just cannot countenance a certain policy position that they themselves feel particularly strongly about. For some, it’s guns, and I suspect that the Democrats lose a lot of voters because of their positions on gun control. Should Moms For Gun Sense have to support the Democrat candidate, if that candidate proudly supports open-carry of semi-automatic assault weapons (itself difficult to define) on college campuses?

    What about a pro-life Democrat who believes in abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, and who has the voting record to show that? Or one who denies climate science and supports fossil fuels because s/he hails from Coal, Kentucky or Oil, Oklahoma?

    I’ll leave this quote from Harry S Truman:

    “I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.”

    It’s as true today as it was 60 years ago.

  5. “Internecine party warfare and purges for ideological purity, like the Cultural Revolution in China, are exactly what Trump wants and needs to gain a second term in office…”

    It’s presumptuous to assume democrats know what Trump wants. So far, they haven’t been right and yet they keep thinking they know him so well. And they certainly don’t know what it will take for Trump to gain a second term in office. They still don’t know how he got his first term in office. Assuming they “know” things is why they are coming apart at the seams right now.

    “Imagine what two terms of Trump would do to women’s rights, to unions and workers, to the climate, to education, to civil rights, to health care, voting rights. Imagine the worst… and realize that it will happen if the 2020 Democratic nominee is sabotaged by squabbling.”

    You all are scaring yourselves to death!! You have no real idea what Trump is going to do. He hasn’t done anything yet, but you all are gathering together and scaring the wits out of one another. You may have something to fear, but you don’t know that yet. You are battling ghosts and your imagination. General George Patton had a saying I learned to live by: “Do not listen to the counsel of your fears.” It is excellent advice, especially in uncertain times. That was one of the reasons he was an outstanding General…he fought real bettles against real situations.

    “If they allow petty feuding to obscure that goal, Trump will have four more years to radically remake this country.”

    One can only hope Trump has four more years! I would much rather have him radically change the Country than democrats enact their vision.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      We know that Trump is a con man and a liar.

      We know that Paul Ryan is a follower of Ayn Rand and a liar.

      We know who the cabinet appointees are, their history, and what they plan to do, because these are not unknown characters.

      It’s odd, Steve, sometimes you say things like “you don’t know what he’s going to do”, and other times you say “what did you expect, that’s what he said he was going to do”.

      Make up your mind.

      • “It’s odd, Steve, sometimes you say things like “you don’t know what he’s going to do”, and other times you say “what did you expect, that’s what he said he was going to do”. Make up your mind.”

        Oh come on, Not Tom, this is a liberal blog…consistency is optional.

  6. THE JUSTICE DEMOCRATS!!!
    Open with a flourish of trumpets and the banging of drums while a serious sounding deep voice resounds with: “The Justice Democrats here to save the democrats from themselves!!”
    Raise the spotlight to focus on Bernie Saunders standing on a pedestal.
    • His is resplendent in his Justice Department uniform, consisting of a light blue spandex body suit emblazoned with “JD” on the chest in bedazzler jewels with a flowing dark blue cape.
    • Bernie has his hands on his hips, his feet shoulder wide apart, his chest thrust forward in a defiant pose.
    • His wisp of hair and flowing cape wafting in the breeze, his horned rimmed glasses making him look slightly myopic.
    • And in a growingly dramatic chorus are the words:

    ”Bernie! Bernie! He’s our man! If he can’t do it, what the hell are we gonna’ do?!?!?!?”

    When I read about these “Justice Democrats” I laughed my head of because of the image it created of a bunch of Superman Fans trying to create their own political version of the Justice League, complete with cool uniforms, secret decoder code rings and hidden headquarters.

    I keep telling people on this blog that democrats go in big for dramatic and pointless flourishes, and I keep getting told I don’t know what I am talking about. It is amazing how deluded the left can be.

  7. For Sure Not Tom

    Or, imagine if we get to 2020 and we run another Hillary Wall Street Kissinger, the same old corrupt faces are running the DNC, and white women, millennials, and minorities all stay home again.

    It’s 2017, not 1990. Things have changed. The Cenk’s and Bernie’s and Warren’s are the future.

    The current narrative is that the Dems, the party of FDR, has abandoned the working class. Goldman Sachs owns the left just as much as they own the right.

    So instead of lecturing Progressives on unity, maybe you should lecture the neo-liberals and establishment Dems on how to act like Democrats and unify with Progressives.

    It’s 2017, not 1990, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over, the GOP has taken over the country.

    Don’t make me say it… can’t…. stop…..myself….

    Bernie would have won.