Saturday, December 09, 2017

Purity Test

Author and journalist Jonathan Alter, who tends to prefer Democratic candidates from the corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party, tweets

This post from a top democratic socialist from Alabama who won’t vote for Jones because he’s not for single payer illustrates why Dems might not take House in ‘16. Will other Bernie backers stand up to this?

The article  mentions Bernie Sanders only once, in the paragraph in which "Alex" of the Democratic Socialists of Alabama argues

The problem with Doug Jones is revealed not when you point out what he hasn’t done that Roy Moore has, but rather when you look at what Doug Jones says he plans to do, or, as is often the case, not do. At a time when the already abysmal American healthcare system is at threat of being outright gutted by congress, Doug Jones has repeatedly shied away from supporting Bernie Sanders’s Medicare For All plan, and has not backed single-payer healthcare (an immensely popular policy proposal) despite the fact that his very own website states that he believes “Health care is a right, not a privilege limited to the wealthy and those with jobs that provide coverage.” Jones has also shied away from dedicating himself to supporting a $15 livable wage, again, despite the fact that his own website says that he “strongly support[s] ensuring working Alabamians receive a living wage for their hard work.” And, in a time when the college debt crisis is racking up in the trillions of dollars, he has not endorsed any sort of tuition-free college education program...

Although Alter refers to "Bernie backers," it's hard not to conclude that this is a swipe against the Vermont senator himself.  Similarly, Hillary Clinton in her election memoir criticized Sanders for choosing "to resort to innuendo and impugning my character... His attacks caused lasting damage" and for not promptly endorsing her once his own challenge had clearly ended.

These attacks on Sanders are unjustified and diminish her righteous anger at Donald Trump, James Comey, and Vladimir Putin who- unlike her primary opponent- actually played a role in her defeat in November. In the same manner, Alter's swipe at the Vermont senator diminishes his larger, far more valid notion, that here the perfect is the enemy of the good.

It would be enervating to have a US Senate candidate in the deep south endorse single-payer health care, a livable wage, and (as Alex puts it well) "any sort of tuition-free college education program."

Jones did not do so either because he believed it would doom his bid or because he finds it too radical.  However, neither justifies Alex's conclusion that "I can't say that I will be taking part" in voting for either candidate.

"Alex" makes clear that he understands that Roy Moore's personal and professional past and reactionary politics would render him a terrible senator.  But he does not fully understand the stakes involved. There are, including Alabamian Luther Strange, currently 52 Republican senators. If Jones pulls off the upset, there would be only 51 senators (my math is astounding), thus requiring the Democratic Party to peel off only two Republicans to defeat the reconciled Corporate Tax Scam of 2017.

If Justice Anthony Kennedy retires, only two GOP senators- assuming Majority Leader Schumer is able to hold his own caucus together- would be necessary to defeat a candidate recommended to Donald Trump by the Heritage Foundation or the Federalist Society.

Whether for the Supreme Court or legislation, there are enormous consequences.  Consider that noted Republican "moderate"Lindsey Graham has tweeted "It’s long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign."

It's time to stop blaming Bernie Sanders. But it's also time for leftists to stop whining about not having the ideal candidate, or their perception of the ideal candidate.  Doug Jones, like Hillary Clinton, may or may not be the lesser of two evils, but it doesn't matter. He's not Lindsey Graham, let alone Roy Moore, Tom Cotton, or Donald Trump. If we can get him, we should take him.

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