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Democrats should give up trying to appeal to racist, sexist or homophobic voters on the far right even as their party tries to preserve thin majorities in both congressional chambers, the progressive US senator Bernie Sanders said on Sunday.

Sanders’ remarks came during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press after host Chuck Todd asked a question about attempting to woo over supporters of Donald Trump, which include white nationalists who helped stage the deadly January 6 Capitol attack on the day that Congress certified the former Republican president’s defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Todd said Sanders “made a big deal about wanting to court Trump voters” in both the 2016 election that Trump won as well as the 2020 race that he lost and wondered if the Vermont senator still felt they were worth that.

“There are some extreme rightwing voters who are racists, who are sexists, who are homophobes – xenophobes,” Sanders said. “No, I don’t think you’re ever going to get them.”

Sanders nonetheless said Democrats should sympathize with “millions of … working-class people” who can’t afford healthcare, college tuition for their children or their prescription drugs. And he said one way to appeal to undecided voters is to have the political resolve to punish corporate greed from insurance firms, drug companies and Wall Street traders.

“Some of those people – I’m not saying all – will say, ‘You know what, I’m going to stand with the Democratic party because on these economic issues, they’re far preferable to right-wing Republicans,” Sanders told Todd.
Sanders is an independent but votes in line with the Democrats’ agenda on Capitol Hill.

He recently wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian that warned Democrats should not only focus on protecting abortion rights in the closing phases of this midterm election cycle but also needed to communicate a plan for the economic woes facing Americans that Republicans as a party purport to care more about.

Sanders said his voting record starkly illustrates his opposition to the US supreme court’s decision in June to eliminate federal protections for abortion, which a majority of voters believe should be legal in most cases, according to some polling.

The supreme court’s ruling overturning the nationwide abortion rights established by the 1973 Roe v Wade case has led to fears that the justices could also target the elimination of same-sex marriage.

But Sanders said his party should also be concerned about how six in 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And he has said Democrats should be more vocal about how they have better ideas than Republicans on rectifying that reality, including through methods such as ending tax breaks, raising the federal minimum wage and even providing universal healthcare.

The Democrats go into the midterms with an eight-seat advantage in the House. The Senate is split evenly but Biden’s Democratic vice-president Kamala Harris currently gives their party a tiebreaker.






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Comes on 3-4 CT/4-5 ET




For American progressives, the Supreme Court has become a maddening institution. The comforting notion of the court as umpire lies in tatters. It is Justice Samuel Alito’s court now: methodologically flexible but ideologically rigid.

Last term, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court struck down Roe v. Wade on ostensibly originalist grounds, yet this term it is poised to strike down affirmative action on grounds that make a mockery of original understandings. The court proclaims its fidelity to the past but is actually a font of legal innovation, inventing, for example, novel counter-reforms to the American political system that entrench minority rule by the Republican Party.

These disparate outcomes are consistent in precisely one way: They turn the ideological and partisan preferences of conservative Republicans into legal changes, and these are reshaping our political and economic systems, making them more hospitable to oligarchy.

But the Supreme Court does not have the only word, or even the last word, on the meaning of the Constitution. Liberals must rediscover that basic fact, and the tradition in American politics in which political actors outside the court, especially Congress and the president, use the political tools available to them to assert their own rival constitutional visions, sometimes setting up high-stakes political confrontations with the court.

Instead of trying to legislate within the lines of Supreme Court case law — lines that might be redrawn tomorrow — liberal lawmakers should view the court primarily as a hostile political actor with its own distinctive political incentives, internal divisions and weaknesses.

This is how earlier generations of liberals and progressives implemented their constitutional ideas — in particular, how they strove to prevent the republic from sliding into oligarchy.

Many on the left have forgotten that tradition because of the legacy of their mid-20th-century forebears: a strong attachment to the idea that the Supreme Court, and only the court, is in charge of interpreting the Constitution. In the face of unyielding white Southern resistance to school desegregation, mid-20th-century liberals became passionate advocates of that view. Those liberals won some great judicial victories for racial justice as well as civil liberties and women’s rights. They embraced a vision of the court as the nation’s all-powerful constitutional arbiter.

Half a century later, that vision appears increasingly ridiculous.

The anti-oligarchy tradition played a central role in American constitutional thought and argument from the beginning. The framers differed about many things but agreed on this: A stable republic requires a broad dispersal of wealth, property and political and economic power. From James Madison and Thomas Jefferson through the early 20th century, presidents and lawmakers invoked this anti-oligarchy tradition in political fights — waged with democratic tools, checks and balances — against Supreme Courts they saw reinterpreting the Constitution as a fortress for entrenched wealth and power. We cannot keep our constitutional democracy, our “republican form of government,” they argued, unless we restrain oligarchy and build a middle class broad and wide-open enough to accommodate everyone.

Americans working in this tradition did not agree on how broadly to define “everyone,” nor on what redistributive and structural reforms to advocate. But they all seized hold of the tools the Constitution offers to check the work of a Supreme Court that too often sided with oligarchs: the corporate, landed and slaveholding elites.

To confront a hostile Supreme Court, the people and their elected leaders need to be confident that they, too, have the power and the obligation to interpret the Constitution, as Franklin Roosevelt forthrightly argued during the Great Depression. Facing a court hellbent on striking down New Deal reforms, Roosevelt declared that the Constitution is “a layman’s document, not a lawyer’s contract.” Citing and building on the arguments of Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt called on the “lay rank and file,” “the American people,” to interpret the Constitution for themselves and set their own constitutional vision against the doctrines of the judiciary.

The central constitutional fights of a century ago, like many today, were about the direction of the nation’s political economy. Progressives in the elected branches of the federal government were beginning to enact major redistributive reforms aimed at providing more decent jobs, more social insurance and broad new safeguards for organized labor and the middle class.

These reform measures were anathema to conservative courts’ constitutional vision, so early 20th-century courts struck down many of them. In the 21st century, the Roberts court has revived many of these reactionary, anti-redistributive constitutional ideas to eviscerate measures like Medicaid expansion, campaign finance laws and farmworkers’ ability to organize. The specific doctrines change; the methodologies vary wildly; but the ideological aims are unwavering.

Today’s Supreme Court is likely to embrace right-wing constitutional challenges to new labor laws like the one that recently passed the House, which protects broad-gauge strikes and union organizing. The response of the mid-20th-century liberal — that the Constitution permits such laws — is not enough. To persuade Americans that stern court-curbing measures are necessary, progressives must first convince enough Americans that the court is dead wrong about the Constitution — and that the national government has a constitutional duty to enact laws like the bill that passed the House last year protecting the right to join together and create unions, because otherwise, ordinary working Americans lack the political and economic clout to check the power of big business. Progressives should argue that the Constitution demands laws like these to stem the country’s slide into oligarchy.

This term, this court will decide how far to go in shutting down both affirmative action and race-conscious protections for equal opportunity in the voting arena. The Reconstruction Republicans understood race-conscious efforts like these as indispensable to dismantling the South’s slaveholding oligarchy. They wrote the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to redistribute economic and political power to Black Americans, and they read those amendments as requiring Congress to provide them land and education, the franchise and equal rights.

But the right-wing court has decided that these amendments prohibit race-conscious efforts to redistribute some political and economic power and opportunity to Black Americans. Progressives today should do more than argue that such efforts are something the Constitution permits. They should explain instead — as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did on her first day on the bench — that the Constitution here means just the opposite of what the Supreme Court majority says. Measures like the Voting Rights Act, which the court has been gutting, are what the Constitution demands.

Today that argument has very little chance in court. That’s why it is up to the political branches to press the constitutional argument and check and balance the Supreme Court.

There are many democratic tools to do that. Congress can expand the court by adding new justices, and although term limits for justices would require a constitutional amendment, Congress could enact various proposals to restructure the court to allow for new justices to be appointed regularly, perhaps every two years.

It can also strip the federal judiciary of jurisdiction to overturn vital reforms. The Constitution gives Congress power to define and restrict what kinds of appeals the Supreme Court can accept and what kinds of cases the lower federal courts can hear. Congress uses this power today more often than one might expect: This year’s Inflation Reduction Act, for example, contained some modest provisions insulating certain administrative actions from judicial review.

Other tools deserve much more attention. Congress can delay jurisdiction, giving laws time to work — and become popular — before review is ripe. It can create politically unpalatable choices for the court through backup provisions that take effect if a law is struck down. None of these tactics will sit well with most Americans if they seem like nothing more than tit-for-tat politics. Progressives must also persuade a majority of Americans that the court is wrong about the Constitution — that it has the Constitution backward. The rights this court denies and the laws it strikes down are often ones the Constitution demands.

But as the aftermath of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade suggests, progressives can run on opposing this court. It is a playbook Republicans used to great effect for half a century in their long political backlash against the court Chief Justice Earl Warren led in the 1950s and 1960s. But the Warren court was never as unpopular with the American people as our right-wing court is now. This right-wing majority is testing how far it can go without drawing too much political fire. It is time for progressives to revive their traditions of constitutional politics and political economy so that, as Roosevelt put it, Americans can “save the Constitution from the court, and the court from itself.”


Here’s progressive House candidates from the Northeast/Middle Atlantic. I’ve included my district’s candidate even though he really isn’t as progressive as the others (though he’s fine for our district). He, Bowman, and Riley have the toughest races. The rest should have no problem in their very D districts.

MA-7: Ayanna Pressley

NY-14: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

NY-16: Jamaal Bowman

NY-18: Pat Ryan

NY-19: Josh Riley

PA-12: Summer Lee

RI-1: David Cicilline

VT: Becca Balint



When Democrat Pat Ryan got elected to New York’s 19th – a largely rural district in upstate New York that swung for Trump in 2016 and only narrowly elected Biden in 2020 – people were surprised.

His contender in the August special election, Marc Molinaro, was a well-known local politician who entered the political arena when he was just 18, becoming the mayor of Tivoli, which is in the district, at 19. Molinaro was the favorite to win: leading in the polls, by as much as 10 points, right up to the moment Ryan claimed victory.

The special election was watched with bated breath, as a tight race in a swing seat that could be a harbinger in the midterm elections, where Democrats are fighting to keep a slim House majority come November. Now, people are looking at Ryan’s campaign as a political playbook for how to win other tight races across the country.

Many credit Ryan’s win to seizing the political moment around the fierce fight for abortion rights in the US.

Just hours after the constitutional right to abortion was dismantled by the US supreme court on 24 June, Ryan, a US army vet, released a campaign ad making his stance clear. In a surprising twist, the video tied his military service to the attack on abortion.

“How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women’s bodies? That’s not the country I fought to defend,” he said in the ad.

It was a much-needed balm at a time when the Democratic party was being criticized at the national level for lacking a sense of urgency in responding to the fall of Roe v Wade, the landmark decision that had protected abortion rights in the US for several generations.

“I think what is missing in our politics right now is just speaking from the heart, rather than poll testing,” Ryan told the Guardian when asked why he thought that message on abortion resonated.

Then, a few months into Ryan’s campaign, the Republican senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortion at the national level, after 15 weeks. The bill never would have had enough support to pass, but it didn’t matter: after months of the Republicans saying abortion rights should be put to the states, Graham appeared to have revealed his party’s hand in pushing for a national crackdown.

“They showed themselves to be extremists. Suddenly, we saw the new Republican platform was wanting to criminalize abortions at the national level,” said Ryan.

His special election win gives him just a few months representing New York’s 19th before he has to run again in the midterms. And the abortion message is one he continues to campaign on.

“There was just another set of horrific reporting out of Ohio, where at least two teenage women under the age of 18 were raped and forced to fly to other states, just to get reproductive health care. That’s just as barbaric. And that’s not who we are as a country,” he said.

Adding that he thinks the Democrats will hold the house and the Senate, he continued: “We absolutely have to restore those decisions back to women, and away from politicians, frankly.”

Ryan just introduced a bill to make abortion medication legal at the national level. If it passes, it will undermine states’ attempts to ban abortion, considering that more than half of US abortions are completed using medication.

His pledge is again a foil to the national party’s mostly lackluster attempts to curtail the destruction of abortion rights across the US, with Joe Biden’s own abortion bill coming under fire precisely because it failed to make it easier for Americans to access abortion pills.

It may seem strange that a candidate like Ryan – who wants to pass gun control laws, raise taxes on the wealthy and make abortion pills nationally accessible – would win in a district that elected Trump.

But it’s the way he ties together seemingly progressive ideals under the banner of freedom thats seems to resonate. He talks about seeing voters in his own district on the campaign trail. Whether in some of the most rural and conservative parts of his district, at events with small business owners, or speaking to younger people, he says abortion rights came up over and over.

So to him, the playbook is simple.

“All we have to do is show Americans that we understand how existential this fight is. The fight for reproductive freedom; for voting rights; the fight against gun violence; the fight for our democracy. We need to draw attention to how un-American it is to take away these freedoms,” said Ryan.

Does he feel it is contradictory, to stand for the rights of American women, or children at threat of being gunned down in American schools, when he participated in a war and occupation that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians?

“I have said publicly that the decision to go to war in Iraq and the way we conducted it – there’s an awful lot we should have done better,” he said.

“I personally had to wrestle with seeing my fellow soldiers and innocent civilians – whom I had built relationships with – put at risk. Seeing war very close and personally, you see the darkest and the most evil in human nature come forward. We need people in Congress who understand the seriousness of sending our young men and women into combat. War has to be our absolute last resort,” he said.

And with this call for unity he hopes he can win in November.

“We’re so divided. And for a long time politicians have pitted people against each other, but we showed in the special election that we can take so-called ‘wedge issues’ and remind people that we actually share these values in common – things like reproductive freedom. This is a moment where we have to be clear-eyed about the stakes,” he says.

“Authenticity, and just being a normal human being – that is something that is in short supply right now in our politics.”







Surprised but pleased



I watched part of the Abrams-Kemp debate. I chuckled at the Libertarian in the middle. He wants to privatize education and health care.

Kemp sounded stronger than I expected. I disagree with his comments, but he’s standing toe to toe with Abrams. She’s right about the ideas she wants to put forward, but Kemp keeps harping how he wants to give more tax cuts. That will appeal to all classes.




Even Third Way and the New Dems agree


In his op-ed, Sanders puts the blame on “the advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded super PACs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion. Cut the 30-second abortion ads and coast to victory.”

He has a point, says Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic group that is not often aligned with Sanders. “I’ve never seen a Democratic administration told to not talk about job creation,” Bennett told The Daily Beast. He added: “I get it. We have really low unemployment, and most people have other things on their mind. While I don’t disagree with Bernie about putting too many eggs in the abortion basket, it’s not easy to figure out what to say about the economy.”

Sanders’ advice is essentially that his party should list popular legislation that not a single Republican voted for: $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, making corporations pay their fair share, lowering prescription drug costs, and on and on.

“He’s been saying the same things since the 1970s, and some of the things he says are dead-on,” Bennett concedes.

Much of the dispute surfacing among Democrats has to do with the ads that voters see in the final weeks. Sanders wants the economy to get its due, and Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network (NDN), which advocates for centrist progressives, agrees. “On a strategy level, I agree with Bernie. We shouldn’t be losing this argument to them (Republicans).”

Rosenberg would like to see Democrats draw a bright line to contrast Biden’s record of adding ten million jobs in 20 months with the last three Republican presidents, two Bushes and Trump, who collectively added just 1.9 million. “I agree [with Bernie] that we have to make the basic argument that we’ve made the country better. We’re not winning the economic argument and the gap is too big to be comfortable.”

“Biden has done a lot,” Rosenberg continues. “The economy has boomed, and we have a lot to tell.”

How do you tell the story to voters? “The way you move any argument in politics, use all available resources—advertising, candidate events. It’s got to be an important point how we close.”

Bernie’s never been popular among the Democratic establishment. But in this case, he’s absolutely right. Are the Democratic consultants listening?


A little late I think. They lost some of the ground they made up in the summer.