Ro Khanna, Democrat Representative of California’s 17th district, recently committed what is commonly known as a political gaffe. At least in the eyes of many progressives, independents, and third-party supporters, his choice to endorse a neoliberal Dem party candidate rather than the solidly progressive Justice Democrat backed candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was unacceptable. Not only is Ro a fellow Justice Democrat, but Ocasio-Cortez actually shares his policy positions and supposedly the intent to replace corporate candidates, which makes it nonsensical for him to endorse her corporate-backed opponent.
The twitter-verse responded with gusto to the blaring hypocrisy of Ro Khanna, and to his minimal credit, he caved to the pressure of progressives and “dual endorsed” Ocasio-Cortez. Yet, to be in full alignment with progressives his response should have been to withdraw his endorsement from Joe Crowley, and give it full-throated to his fellow Justice Democrat. This is not an extreme position; Joe Crowley is a leader of establishment Democrats whom Justice Democrats are supposedly trying to remove from power. Joe Crowley is in essence, the enemy of the Dem Enter progressive movement.
“After Crowley was a no-show at a bilingual debate, he lost the endorsement of a Queens Democratic Party political club. Next, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) clawed back his sole endorsement for Crowley and “co-endorsed” Ocasio-Cortez.” – Queens Against Crowley
Understand that the dual endorsement was a political compromise on Ro’s behalf, he couldn’t afford to abandon Crowley out of fear the Dem party leader would win and then make Ro’s job in Congress an uphill battle (because that’s how petty the guy Ro endorsed is,) but he also couldn’t afford to completely lose credibility with progressive voters by not endorsing Ocasio-Cortez. It was a catch 22 in his eyes, so he tried to appease everyone a little in an attempt to diffuse the blowback from both.
I understand the strategy, I really do, but if you’re trying to storm the citadel you won’t accomplish it by aligning yourself with the Generals of both armies. I question whether such political walking of the line makes sense given the larger strategy of a hostile takeover of the party. I don’t think anyone in history has ever sacked a well-defended position without militant and unified application of a well thought out strategy.
“first lay plans which will ensure victory, and then lead your army to battle; if you will not begin with stratagem but rely on brute strength alone, victory will no longer be assured”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
If the mission and strategy of Justice Democrats and Dem Enter are to orchestrate a progressive takeover of the corporate controlled Democratic Party, someone needs to explain to me how a Justice Democrat candidate endorsing ANY neoliberal corporate candidate, especially against a fellow Justice Dem furthers the stated mission. Even if it’s an “innocent” act, isn’t Ro, in essence, endorsing the very group of people who the Dem Enter crowd is supposedly trying to overthrow?
I do not offer these critiques to trash or tear down the Dem Enter crowd or Ro Khanna. I want the takeover to be successful, and I’m excited for every one of the victories progressives have claimed since 2016. However, I bitterly resent the lack of unity and clarity from the leaders of the movement. Many of whom have wantonly abandoned insurgent candidates to the wolves. The electorate is starving for bold leadership, unity, and vision; if progressive Dem’s want us to join the party that betrayed us over and over again, then they need to fucking give us those things.
Imagine if Ro Khanna and every other supposed progressive Dem Enter candidate/politician (I’m looking at you, Bernie Sanders) made their endorsements plentiful, and based on a full commitment to the strategy of replacing any and all establishment candidates. The vision and mission of Dem Enter would be crystal clear to the electorate. We know the only thing that defeats money power is people power in these races. The boldest progressives with people power have largely been MIA when our upstart candidates needed them the most. Click To Tweet
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
―Thomas Paine, Common Sense
The progressive wave would have been manifest if the Dem Enter leaders like Sanders had shown unity with those whom he inspired to run for office. Sanders called for a political revolution and that gave birth to many of these candidacies, yet he effectively disavowed so many of them with his stony silence. Why? What is the strategy here? And, who is this strategy meant to benefit?
As I write this commentary Ocasio-Cortez has just pulled out a game-changing win against Dem party boss Joe Crowley, with little to no help from Dem Enter leaders. I hope her victory moves Ro Khanna, Bernie Sanders, and the Dem Enter movement as a whole to take a step back to assess their strategy.
Right now the Dem Enter movement appears disjointed and divided which is confusing to the voter base. Those who endorse against progressives often simultaneously celebrate the progressive victory, which increases the lack of trust for the movement. And ultimately, it appears that the lack of unity and allegiance to a shared strategy is causing progressives candidates to undermine each other in bids to improve their own individual power bases.
If the progressive takeover is to have a chance at success, those who are in it cannot dance with the devil no matter how advantageous it may appear to be. Click To Tweet Everyone must be on board with the radical application of a takeover strategy, and if they’re not, then they shouldn’t be considered part of the movement. The message to the electorate must be clear and consistent or else they will not trust or support you, and you will lose.
Working with corporate Dems must be viewed as a honeypot; it is meant to lure you in so they can stop you in your tracks or at least taint you in the eyes of progressives. The strategy of a takeover requires militant allegiance to those that share your values and intent. Without this, you will lose.
Asking people to join the Democrat Party when you have no organization, strategy, or vision for success is unreasonable. We do not trust anymore; you must show the people why it’s worth compromising ourselves by association to help you. If you do not offer us a good reason Dem Exit will not join you, and you will lose.
The only way to avoid the trap is to stand upon your integrity. Plant your proverbial flag, throw off your gloves, and fearlessly defend your principled positions…even if you lose because of it. The voters will rally behind these people because it is better to fight for what is right and lose than to fight for what is mostly wrong and win.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches