Saturday, December 15, 2018


The Iowa caucuses won't happen for a year, but some progressives are determined to sandbag Beto O'Rourke now, as Politico notes:
Now that Beto O’Rourke is looking at a presidential campaign, he is coming in for a flurry of hits from the left.

The criticism — ranging from O’Rourke’s membership in the centrist New Democrat Coalition to his acceptance of campaign money from oil industry employees — has so far been confined largely to social media, newspaper opinion pages and online message boards. But as O’Rourke considers running for president in 2020, his potential opponents are quietly taking stock, plotting lines of attack they believe could weaken the Texas congressman in a crowded primary field....

O’Rourke simultaneously shrugged off — but further fueled — the criticism Friday by sidestepping the opportunity to embrace the progressive mantle after a town hall meeting here....

Asked if he is a progressive Democrat, O’Rourke told reporters, “I don’t know. I’m just, as you may have seen and heard over the course of the campaign, I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.”

O’Rourke’s supporters ... point to his support for Medicare for All and for leftist drug, military and immigration policies. And they were buoyed by the release of a straw poll by the progressive advocacy group Mo
We should have real discussions about all of these things if O'Rourke runs --we should seriously weigh everyone's positions, obviously. A possible risk, however, is that one candidate will be defined by the purist left as the most offensive sellout candidate -- and that person might wind up on the ticket anyway, because the Democratic Party is much more than a collection of Jacobin-reading social democrats. And then the purist outrage will be cranked up to maximum levels.

O'Rourke could be the candidate these folks decide they love to hate. Here's a Twitter poll from Howie Klein:

As for me, I'll vote for whichever Democrat makes it through the primaries. I'd prefer a progressive, but the candidates I'd fight the hardest against would be the hardcore corpocrats -- Mike Bloomberg, of course, and a name you're not hearing yet, but you will: Howard Schultz, who has a book coming out in February with the very campaign-y title From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America and who's probably thinking very seriously of running, in all likelihood on the "we have more will than wallet" platform he articulated in June on CNBC:
Without naming names, Schultz said in a "Squawk Box" interview: "It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left. I say to myself, 'How are we going to pay for these things,' in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don't think that's realistic." ...

"I think the greatest threat domestically to the country is this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations," Schultz said. "The only way we're going to get out of that is we've got to grow the economy, in my view, 4 percent or greater. And then we have to go after entitlements."
O'Rourke, Biden, and maybe a couple of other probably 2020 Democratic aspirants from the world of politics are a few steps to the right of serious progressivism, but they're not talking like this. I'm comfortable with the idea of any of them at the top of the ticket. But if the nominee is Schultz or Bloomberg, I'll really have to hold my nose to vote Democratic. (I'll do it, though, because the Republican Party is a sinkhole of awfulness and it has to be removed from power.)

The demonization campaigns against O'Rourke, Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and others have the potential to put a lot of votes in Jill Stein's column in 2020. I hope the purist energy is divided several ways, so we don't have the level of outrage during the general election campaign that we had in 2016, when the hate was concentrated on one person -- please, no fart-ins at the convention this time, folks.

Maybe Jill Stein will simply get the same number of too-good-for-the-Democrats votes no matter who tops the Democratic ticket, assuming it's not Bernie Sanders. Maybe every other candidate will inspire approximately the same amount of purist contempt. It'll just be something we'll have to work around in order to win.

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