[Marxism] Fwd: Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb's Victory - Rolling Stone

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 15 05:52:19 MDT 2018

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Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb's Victory
Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb's Victory
The Worst Government Possible, on Purpose
The Worst Government Possible, on Purpose
Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb's Victory
Dems pick up a House seat in Pennsylvania – but is Lamb the start of a 
winning strategy or the establishment sidelining the Trump Resistance?

Is this the face of the future for the Democratic Party? Drew Angerer/Getty
By Bob Moser
20 hours ago
Republicans are fucked. There is no other possible way to interpret 
Democrat Conor Lamb's ridiculously implausible victory on Tuesday in a 
special congressional election in Pennsylvania. The 33-year-old 
ex-Marine, former prosecutor, and certified hottie edged out a veteran 
Republican lawmaker in a steel-country district that Donald Trump 
carried by nearly 20 points just 16 months ago. A district where 
Democrats didn't even bother to run a candidate in the previous two 
elections. A district that's practically as white as Utah. A district 
that's exactly the kind of place where Trumpism is supposed to be 
bulletproof. "We should be able to elect a box of hammers in this 
district," moaned GOP consultant Mike Murphy. "If we're losing here, you 
can bet there is a Democratic wave coming."


Democrat Declares Victory in Pennsylvania – Here's What You Need to Know
A tight House race on GOP turf suggests Donald Trump has become a 
liability for his party – and there's a field of opportunity for 
Democrats in 2018

After Tuesday, it looks like a huge wave forming. In a whopping 110 
Republican-held House districts across the country, Trump won in 2016 by 
less than he did in Pennsylvania's 18th. Democrats only need to win 24 
of them to take back a House majority in November. Even with their 
preternatural knack for turning sure wins into losses (see, for example, 
Clinton vs. Trump), the consultants who run the party in Washington 
would really have to pull out all the stops to prevent The Resistance 
from lifting the Democrats back to power.

Don't worry, though – the Democrats will try to screw it up. It's a 
time-honored party tradition. On Tuesday, of course, the blue side was 
mostly stamping and cheering in unison for Lamb, lefties along with 
centrists. What was not to love about Trump Republicans losing in a 
district that's often referred to as "Northern West Virginia"? 
Especially after the GOP poured more than $10 million into trying to 
save the seat. Making the schadenfreude even more delicious, Trump threw 
himself into the campaign full-bore in its final stages. Last week, he 
announced a steep tariff on steel and aluminum – the one issue, more 
than any other, that might sway this labor-heavy district into the GOP 
column. ("Do you think it could possibly have all been for western 
Pennsylvania?" Gail Collins asked rhetorically in The New York Times. 

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Andrew Rush
This is the danger of campaigning at a candy factory.  #PA18

3:10 PM - Mar 12, 2018 · Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
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All the most Trumpy of surrogates were parachuted in: Ivanka, Kellyanne, 
VP Pence. On Election Eve, Donald Trump Jr. toured a candy factory with 
the doomed Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, resulting in indelible 
images of the "first son" wearing a hairnet over his helmet of 
painted-on black hair and being interviewed by a chocolate bunny. Over 
the weekend, Trump pere held his second rally for Saccone, holding forth 
for 75 minutes of vintage bombast. The president gifted the Democratic 
candidate with a nickname, "Lamb the Sham," and explained the sobriquet: 
"He's trying to act like a Republican. But he won't give me one vote" 
once he gets to Congress, he warned his raucous fans.

But the voters in the district knew that wasn't true: If Lamb made 
anything clear in his campaign, it's that he most certainly will vote 
with Trump on occasion. On guns, for one thing: Lamb opposes a ban on 
assault weapons, such as the AR-15 he was shown firing in one of his 
campaign ads. He supports the president's trade policies, too including 
the new tariffs. He pooh-poohs single-payer healthcare. He's as 
"pro-military" as a person could be. (He is also "personally opposed" to 
abortion, though he says it should be legal.)

Lamb, for all his fresh-faced charm, ran and won as a Trump Democrat – a 
flashback to the "Republican Lite" candidacies the Democrats specialized 
in during the Clinton '90s and '00s. He was so reluctant to criticize 
the president that NBC reporter Kacie Hunt made it her mission on 
Tuesday to ask him about Trump and try to extract something. Lamb 
wouldn't rise to the bait:

Kasie Hunt
Conor Lamb has no comment on whether President Trump is a stable 
commander in chief based on today’s events.

11:54 AM - Mar 13, 2018
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"Just try getting this guy to say anything critical of Trump," Hunt 
marveled on MSNBC. An equally mystified Guardian reporter noted, 
accurately, that "Lamb has been almost painfully non-controversial." In 
a rally over the weekend in a rural corner of the district, the 
president of the United Mine Workers, Cecil Roberts, summed up the 
reasons why white people were about to vote for a Democrat here, hailing 
Lamb as "a God-fearing, union-supporting, gun-owning, job-protecting, 
pension-defending, Social Security-believing, 
sending-drug-dealers-to-jail Democrat."

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Lamb unintentionally pointed up the 
vacuousness of the platform he ran on: "Our issue in this campaign was 
common ground," he said. Which is not an "issue," of course; it's a 
particularly lame Hallmark sentiment.

The first ad Lamb ran in the campaign – his "bio" spot – set the tone. 
Watching it, you wouldn't suspect that the candidate was anything but a 
good old Republican. The first image you see is a little-boy Lamb, 
posing in a football uniform. "He grew up here," it starts, "went to 
Central Catholic, then college and law school. Served four years in the 
Marines. Still loves to shoot." (This is where the AR-15 makes its star 
turn.) The word "Democrat" comes up twice – once, when the voiceover 
says Lamb is "the only candidate calling for Democrats and Republicans 
to have new leadership," and again, when the final message appears on 
screen as the ad fades out, promising he'll "work with Democrats and 
Republicans." (In a subsequent ad, Lamb claimed he could heal the 
partisan divide because he was a Marine.)

The real message of Lamb's campaign basically boiled down to this: "Look 
at what a fine young normal white fellow I am!" But, hey: It worked – 
partly because Lamb does come across as a kind of professional Eagle 
Scout. Only a hopeless left-wing purist could argue that Lamb's approach 
was the wrong one for the 18th district in Pennsylvania. No gun-banning 
feminist with ardent backing from Our Revolution could have won this 
race. And on balance, it's certainly better to have one more 
insufficiently liberal Democrat in Congress than one more GOP lap-dog 
for Trump. Lamb's campaign, for all its glossy emptiness, certainly 
offers some helpful hints for Democrats running in overwhelmingly 
Republican districts like his.

Lamb greets his supporters after giving his victory speech on March 
14th. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty
But the Democratic establishment doesn't just see Lamb as a model for 
running in deep-red districts that are overwhelmingly white. They want 
him to be a model for Democrats running everywhere – to see Lamb's 
victory, in Jonathan Chait's words at New York, as "proof of concept for 
a strategy that could replicate itself across the country." And so, of 
course, do the conservative Blue Dogs. Tim Ryan, the anti-Bernie Bro 
from Ohio who challenged Pelosi for speaker last year, says that Lamb 
"embodies to me what the next iteration of the Democratic Party is going 
to look like. Veterans, working class, really representing people who 
are underemployed, who were maybe making some decent money 10-15 years 
ago but aren't now."

This isn't just a few scattered moderates talking: The Democratic 
Congressional Campaign Committee is pursuing a centrist strategy for 
winning in the fall, working in close coordination with the Blue Dog 
Coalition. The DCCC chair, Ben Ray Lujan, started the cycle last year by 
announcing there would be no "litmus test for Democratic candidates," 
signaling that the Democrats would support "candidates that fit the 
district." Which is code for: You can hate abortion and Obamacare and 
love guns and run like a Republican, and we'll still support you if we 
think you can win. In places where Democrats have both progressive and 
moderate candidates running in primaries, the party has tried to 
persuade left-wingers (including some notable candidates of color) to 
step out of the race—in some cases, sharing "opposition research" they 
expect Republicans would use against the leftie in a general election. 
In Texas, before a congressional primary in Houston, the Democrats went 
public with their opposition research against the most liberal candidate 
in the field. (It backfired pretty spectacularly.)

This clamor for centrism in a time of Resistance would be profoundly 
baffling, if it wasn't the Democratic establishment we were talking 
about here. The DCCC's strategy risks deflating the Resistance, turning 
off non-white voters, and dampening the turnout that Democrats should be 
able to expect in November, given the level of Trump animus across the 
country. Even if the DCCC does its worst, though, Democrats will still 
almost certainly take back the House in November. The question is 
whether they'll win it back in a way that points the party forward. The 
America of the future looks absolutely nothing like the 18th District in 
Pennsylvania. And the future of the Democratic Party looks nothing like 
Conor Lamb.


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