[Marxism] Bernie Sanders to the rescue
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 15 08:43:01 MST 2017
Democrats bracing for town hall protests directed at them ask Bernie
Sanders for help: Some lawmakers have asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
to help keep activist anger trained on Republicans.
O'Keefe, Ed; Weigel, David. The Washington Post (Online), Washington,
Feb. 15 2017
Senior Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday sought to stave off town hall
protests from their own party, asking Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to
reach out and urge activists to redirect their anger at Republicans
instead of at moderate Democratic lawmakers.
The request came in a weekly meeting of top Democratic senators,
according to a senator in attendance, ahead of a congressional recess
next week when lawmakers in both parties are expected to face large
crowds stirred in recent weeks by President Trump's early executive
actions and ongoing Republican attempts to revamp the Affordable Care Act.
Over the past two weeks, crowds -- and conflict-hungry media crews --
have swarmed town halls and protested at congressional offices.
Republicans have gotten the brunt of it, with several members escorted
by police through lines of shouting protesters, and some caught
scrapping or rescheduling public events or leaving out back doors to
dodge angry activists.
But protesters have also gathered in blue states, marching to Senate
Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer's home in Brooklyn to demand the
obstruction of Trump nominees, and showing up at the offices of
safe-seat Democrats to demand that they filibuster Trump's Supreme Court
nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Such episodes spurred Democrats to ask Sanders for help, according to
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who attended the meeting on Tuesday.
"They basically explained to Bernie, it looks like you could be the
person that could calm down and make sure their energy and all this
enthusiasm is directed in all the right proper channels," Manchin said.
"Bernie has a voice, and if [protesters] want to be active, then direct
them to where the problem may be or where they anticipate a problem."
The intraparty drama puts top party leaders like Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a
tricky political position. He can either fully embrace the far left and
its rejuvenated activism -- and risk alienating moderate lawmakers and
voters -- or push back too hard against the new activity and anger the
party's base of support.
The request to Sanders came during a meeting with Schumer and a
leadership team that stretches the ideological spectrum of his caucus.
In addition to Sanders, a self-described socialist, and the moderate
Manchin, the group included Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty
Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), among others.
Manchin is among the most imperiled Democrats facing reelection next
year -- one of five senators from states that Trump won in last year's
presidential election. In total, 25 Democrats face reelection in 2018.
Manchin insisted on Tuesday that the Democratic caucus is "unified in
not wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It's unified! So why
would [protesters] spend any energy on any member who's already
committed to that? They might not like those of us who come from other
parts of the country that doesn't adhere to everything they say or want
done, but on the big items, put your energy somewhere else. Bernie can
deliver that message better than anybody else."
In a statement, Sanders made no mention of the Democrats' request and
did not deny that it happened, but he also said that he would keep
lobbying for a measure that would make it easier to reimport cheaper
prescription drugs from Canada -- an issue that has divided Democrats.
Last month, when 12 members of the Senate Democratic caucus broke with
Sanders, they took a larger-than-expected amount of friendly fire from
"The good news is that during the budget debate, 34 Democrats voted with
12 Republicans to substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs
through reimportation," said Sanders. "During the last several weeks, my
office has been working hard with those Democrats who voted against this
amendment to write a strong bill that they could support. We also will
be working with Republicans who voted against the amendment."
For the most part, Sanders has been working on projects to unite
Democrats and progressives against Trump. Over the weekend, Sanders and
Schumer announced a series of rallies against repeal of the Affordable
Care Act, to be held on Feb. 25. Sanders's highest-profile speech during
the coming recess will be in Kansas, which progressives have
characterized as a model of Republican misrule.
And Our Revolution, the group founded by Sanders in the wake of his 2016
presidential campaign, has not messaged against incumbent Democrats; its
latest request for members, sent Tuesday morning, asked them to protest
the upcoming meeting between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, saying that both men were "shamefully advancing bigoted
agendas in Palestine and in the United States that are antithetical to
peace, equality, justice, freedom, and all the values we stand for."
On the broader left, Democrats have been fair game for activists and
organizations trying to channel their anger with Trump. Organizers of
"Resist Trump Tuesdays," a weekly effort loosely organized by the
progressive Working Families Party, have appeared at Democrats' offices,
demanded town hall meetings, and protested Democrats who have voted for
Trump's Cabinet nominees.
On Tuesday, a group of protesters in Maryland delivered "valentines" to
the office of Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), who is up for reelection in
2018, with questions about why he was agreeing to meet with Gorsuch,
after many Republicans refused to meet with blocked Obama nominee
Merrick Garland. They handed out candy hearts with slogans like
"Filibuster Me" and "Be My Accountable Democrat," and a sign that read
"Roses are red, violets are blue, supporting Trump's cabinet makes you
After Monday night's vote to confirm Steve Mnuchin as treasury
secretary, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee urged its members
to complain to Manchin, the one Democrat who supported Trump's nominee.
"He voted with Wall Street and against working families. Can you call
him right now to express disapproval of this vote?" PCCC asked in the
email blast. "Sen. Manchin needs to hear from constituents that voting
with Wall Street is the opposite of being 'independent.' It's favoring
the big guys against the little guy. That's the opposite of what West
Manchin said on Tuesday that he isn't worried about confronting
progressive activists back home. "I'm not concerned about it at all. It
is what it is. I love people to come and voice their thoughts," he said.
But he urged progressives to be selective about when and where to speak out.
"If they're coming to disrupt, make sure they're going to the people who
are opposing what they're for," he said.
"I think it's great. It's going to help us," Schumer said of the far
left's renewed activism in a recent Washington Post interview. But he
cautioned Democrats that the diverse political makeup of his caucus --
"from Bernie to Joe," as Schumer described it -- will sometimes require
some Democrats to seek accord with Republicans, including Trump.
"There should not be any animus to the people who are voting the other
way because their states or conscience dictates it," Schumer said. "And
that's what I've tried to make clear to our caucus."
Republicans, meanwhile, are increasingly describing the town hall
disruptions as fabricated. Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), a freshman whom
Democrats have put near the top of their 2018 target list, recalled a
conversation with a constituent who got him on the phone and demanded a
town hall -- even after he answered her question.
"You know that joke, 'I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out?'
It's like, 'I went to a riot and a town hall broke out,' " said Lewis.
"A lot of this is being organized by a number of outside groups. There's
real concern in the district -- this is a big deal -- but there's a lot
of astroturfing, too."
At a meeting on Tuesday with reporters organized by the Heritage
Foundation, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said that he'd seen ads on Facebook
offering cash to people who showed up to protest Republicans. But Rep.
Raul R. Labrador (R-Idaho) argued that the tea party movement's push
into Republican districts -- activism that helped defeat several
Republican members of the House and Senate in their primaries -- gave it
credibility that the Democratic "resistance" so far lacks.
"This was not some organic movement that went against Obama," said
Labrador. "This was people who wanted their party to represent them.
Democrats should want the same thing."
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