This is a moral issue

Dear Friends, once again I am forwarding information on how you can support Budget Amendment #1147, which offers four important protections to Massachusetts immigrants in the face of inhuman and immoral federal policies. There are many political issues where constituents and legislators may agree to disagree on details and nuance. This is not one of them. This is a moral issue where your legislator will either demonstrate s/he has human compassion and will bravely do the right thing. Or not.

Dear Safe Communities endorsers and supporters:

The momentum is building. The horrific situation at the border has put the plight of immigrant families at the top of the news, and mobilized people who don’t normally take to the streets for immigrant rights. We have a lot of people on our side – and we need to mobilize them to support our campaign. Please share this widely across your networks!

Over the weekend, we asked you to ask your networks to email Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Sánchez and your own Representatives highlighting the family separations crisis and urging them to act to protect immigrant families in Massachusetts. Here’s our agenda for this week:

  1. Keep those emails coming – but during business hours, let’s focus on phone calls! We’re targeting Speaker DeLeo (617-722-2500) and individual Reps (find yours at See scripts at the end of this email.
  2. If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, keep hitting the Speaker, Chairman Sánchez and your legislators with calls to action. Sample posts are at the end of this email.
  3. After two very successful, back-to-back protests at the State House last week, we want to turn up the heat even more with another demonstration THIS WEDNESDAY. We’re meeting on the State House steps at 12:30 pm and going in together at 1 pm to make some noise outside the House Chamber.

We’re lining up several speakers, with a focus on immigrants who can speak from experience, and we’re hoping for a big, visible crowd (we already have 200+ RSVPs). The message: In the face of horrific federal actions, Massachusetts MUST act ASAP to protect immigrant families! The Senate passed a budget amendment with 4 basic protections from the Safe Communities Act. House, now it’s YOUR turn. Step up and show you have moral courage and principles!

Sign up here, share on your FB feed and/or Twitter, and bring colorful signs! We’ll be making some for printing, but homemade are best! Remember to make it through security, they can’t have any sticks on them, and you have to be able to stuff them in a folder or backpack, or roll them up.

  1. Also on Wednesday: Lobby Day #3. We need representatives of organizations to join us for another lobby day from 11 am to 1 pm. (You can join the rally after!) Meet at 11 am in Room 109 for materials and lobbying targets (2 right turns after security at Beacon Street entrance). If you are unaffiliated with an organization, team up with others who are, or visit your own Rep! RSVP to Charlotte Boghossian at with subject line: SCA Lobby Day June 20.
  2. Next full coalition call is THIS FRIDAY, 1 pm. Use the Conference Line: (218) 895-6184, passcode: 6472#.

One last thing: We’ve heard from some of you about the messaging advice provided in Saturday’s email. To be clear, the Safe Communities Act – and our support for comprehensive legislation to protect immigrants in Massachusetts – is what brings us all together. That is what we want, and we have many legislators who support us.

But right now, our campaign has a narrower focus: to pass the 4 SCA provisions that the Senate adopted in the FY2019 budget. For legislators who are on the fence, and for Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez, passing the whole SCA, in the budget or separately, this year is a non-starter. For them, our messaging advice emphasizes that this is a compromise. This is the absolute least that you can do for immigrant families.

We’re a broad and diverse coalition, and each of us will formulate our message in our own way. But that’s why we recommended what we did.

Thanks to all of you for everything you’re doing to make it absolutely unbearable for the House to sit on their hands! Hey, even Charlie Baker had to backtrack today, embarrassed to be helping out at the border.

See you at the State House!

On behalf of the SCA Steering Committee,

– Amy & Marion

Sample call script for your Rep:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what Rep. [ name ] is doing about it. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet, and we’re almost out of time.

Will you commit to fighting to ensure those immigrant protections make it into the final budget? I’m counting on you. Thank you!

Sample call script for Speaker DeLeo:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what the House is going to do about this. I called my Rep, but I know that any decision is really up to leadership. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet.

We’re almost out of time. Will you commit to including those immigrant protections in the final budget? The people of Massachusetts are counting on you. Thank you!

Sample tweets and Facebook posts:

Note: For Facebook posts, just omit the handles and hashtags (you can use #FamiliesNotFear on FB too, but hashtags are more of a Twitter thing). All of these can be directed at @SpeakerDeLeo and @Jeffrey_Sanchez too (tag 1, 2 or both + your Rep at once).

Immigrant families are being torn apart, and Mass. sheriffs are helping??? @YourRepsHandle put a stop to this ASAP! Make sure FY2019 state budget includes basic protections for immigrants! #FamiliesNotFear

Then they came for the #immigrants… and Massachusetts did NOTHING? @YourRepsHandle it’s well past time to protect our families! Include basic provisions from #SafeCommunitiesAct in the FY2019 budget!

Families aren’t just being torn apart at the border – @ICEgov does it in Mass. communities every day. @YourRepsHandle, will you pledge to protect immigrants in the FY2019 budget? #FamiliesNotFear
[ this one goes really well with the ACLU video below ]

Some more helpful links to include in emails and post on social media:

Or check out the @MIRACoalition feed on Twitter for lots of material on family separations, or @ProgressiveMass for lots of call-to-action posts.


Children deserve rights everywhere

Suddenly a few Republicans are demonstrating that they actually have souls. Franklin Graham, Laura Bush and even Melania Trump are among those who have recently spoken out against separating children from their parents at the border.

Another insidious form of child abuse has taken place for decades in Palestinian occupied territories, where Israel routinely rounds up and imprisons hundreds of children each year. I am forwarding an appeal from Jeff Klein, of Mass Peace Action, asking Congress to support the McCollum Bill, which so far has only two Massachusetts Congressional sponsors. I have written about Betty McCollum’s legislation before. Please read Jeff’s letter and then contact Congressional Reps. Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas, Joseph Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, and Bill Keating, to let them know they need to be on the right side of this issue. They need to be better friends to children than to a government that just last month slaughtered hundreds of demonstrators.


Dear Activist,

When many Americans and their elected officials are protesting the mistreatment of immigrant minors at our southern border, it is time to renew our demand that Members of Congress also speak up to protect Palestinian children.

When we sent out our earlier alert on the McCollum Bill, Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, H.R. 4391, only one member of the Massachusetts delegation, Rep. Jim McGovern CD2), had co-sponsored the resolution. Since then, CD6 Rep Seth Moulton has joined him in supporting the bill. But other members of our delegation have not yet taken a stand against the abuse of Palestinian children. This is unacceptable.

There are two things you can do.

  1. CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS to ask that they co-sponsor the McCollum Bill.  Do it again even if you have called before. (And please thank Reps. McGovern and Moulton for their co-sponsorship.)

This is Rep. McCollum’s explanation of the bill:

“Given that the Israeli government receives billions of dollars in assistance from the United States, Congress must work to ensure that American taxpayer dollars never support the Israeli military’s detention or abuse of Palestinian children. Congresswoman McCollum’s legislation, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, requires that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

  1. ASK THAT THEIR OFFICES ATTEND A BRIEFING JUNE 25 on H.R. 4391 and the situation for Palestinian children after the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.  You can use the No Way To Treat a Child campaign tool to send an email asking Members of Congress to send a representative to the briefing. If you are in contact with a relevant Congressional staffer, also please phone them directly.

Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. Last year alone, more than fourteen Palestinian boys and girls under the age of 18 were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — and many more were wounded – using resources provided by our own government. We cannot allow this situation to continue.

For Massachusetts Peace Action and its New Day for Israel and Palestine organizing project.

Jeff Klein, Convener, MAPA Palestine/Israel Working Group

Please sign the letter today!

A NEW DAY is a network sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action.

PLEASE SIGN UP for regular “A NEW DAY” Action Alerts if you have not already done so and please reach out to your contacts to have them sign up for by emailing (and please note your Congressional District).

(NEW DAY members will receive a limited number of action-oriented emails)

Massachusetts Peace Action
11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
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Read it yourself

Two-thirds of the Senate voted to add Amendment #1147 to the FY2019 budget, which will shortly go to a House vote as part of the reconciliation process. The usual suspects — Sheriff Tom Hodgson and his friends from FAIR and the Mass Fiscal Alliance — have resorted to lying about the amendment’s provisions. But there is nothing in the amendment preventing officers of the law from doing their jobs.

Massachusetts voters should be paying attention to how House representatives vote. The public is not as dumb as opponents of the amendment think it is. Anyone can read the text of the amendment. Let your House representative know you’ve done so.

Budget Amendment ID: FY2019-S4-1147

EPS 1147


Messrs. Eldridge and Lewis, Ms. L’Italien, Mr. Brownsberger, Ms. Friedman, Ms. Jehlen, Messrs. Hinds and Barrett, Ms. Chang-Diaz, Mr. Crighton, Ms. Creem, Messrs. DiDomenico, Boncore, Welch, Cyr and Lesser, Ms. O’Connor Ives and Mr. Collins moved that the proposed new text be amended by adding the following:

SECTION XX. Chapter 147 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 63. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

“Civil immigration detainer request”, any request by a federal immigration officer authorized under 8 C.F.R. section 287.7 or by any other authorized party, including any request made using federal form I-247A, I-247D or I-247N, asking a non-federal law enforcement agency, officer or employee to maintain custody of a person once that person is released from local custody or to notify the United States Department of Homeland Security of the person’s release.

“Law enforcement agency”, any state, municipal, college or university police department, sheriff’s department, correctional facility, prosecutorial office, court, or program of one or more of the foregoing entities, or any other non-federal entity in the commonwealth charged with the enforcement of laws or the custody of detained persons.

“United States Department of Homeland Security”, the United States Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs and Border Protection, and any other federal agency charged with the enforcement of immigration laws.

Police only inquire about immigration status when the law requires it

(b) No officer or employee of a law enforcement agency, while acting under color of law, shall inquire about the immigration status of an individual unless such inquiry is required by federal or state law; provided that a judge or magistrate may make such inquiries as are necessary to adjudicate matters within their jurisdiction.

Police will be trained on the requirements of this law

(c) All law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth shall, within 12 months of passage of this act, incorporate information regarding lawful and unlawful inquiries about immigration status into their regular introductory and in-service training programs. If a law enforcement agency receives a complaint or report that an officer or employee has inquired about an individual’s immigration status when such inquiry is not required by law, the agency shall investigate and take appropriate disciplinary or other action.

A detained person must be provided a copy of his detainer

(d) If a law enforcement agency has in its custody a person who is the subject of a civil immigration detainer request or a non-judicial warrant, the agency shall promptly provide the person, and his or her attorney if the person is represented by an attorney, with a copy of such detainer request or non-judicial warrant, and any other documentation the agency possesses pertaining to the person’s immigration case.

DHS interviews require consent and preserve the right to an attorney

(e) An interview between a United States Department of Homeland Security agent and a person in the custody of a law enforcement agency conducted for immigration enforcement purposes shall take place only if the person in custody has given consent to the interview by signing a consent form that explains the purpose of the interview, that the interview is voluntary, and that the person may decline to be interviewed or may choose to be interviewed only with an attorney present. The consent form shall be prepared by the office of the attorney general and made available to law enforcement agencies in English and other languages commonly spoken in Massachusetts. The office of the attorney general may work with interested not-for-profit organizations to prepare translations of the written consent form. The law enforcement agency shall make best efforts to provide a consent form that is in a language that the person understands, and to provide interpretation if needed, to obtain the person’s informed consent.

(f) If the person in custody indicates that he or she wishes to have an attorney present for the interview, the law enforcement agency shall allow him or her to contact such attorney, and in the case that no attorney can be present, the interview shall not take place; provided, however, that the law enforcement agency shall not be responsible for the payment of the person’s attorney’s fees and expenses.

State employees may not be used as federal immigration officers

SECTION XX. Chapter 126 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 40. Agreements to Enforce Federal Law.

No officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, with the exception of the department of correction, shall perform the functions of an immigration officer, whether pursuant to 8 U.S.C. section 1357(g) or any other law, regulation, or policy, whether formal or informal. Any agreements inconsistent with this section are null and void.

No cooperation with a federal “Muslim” or other registry

SECTION XX. Chapter 30 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 66. (a) Under no circumstances shall the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, establish any operation or program that requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, or maintain any records system, government file or database for the purpose of registering persons based in whole or in part on those categories.

(b) In the event that any federal government operation or program requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, including but not limited to any such operation or program created pursuant to 8 United States Code, sections 1302(a) and 1303(a):

(1) no resources of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof shall be expended in the enforcement or implementation of such registry or check-in program;

(2) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall access, or seek to access, any information maintained pursuant to such registry or check-in program; and

(3) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall provide or disclose or offer to provide or disclose information to, or respond to a request for information from, such registry or check-in program.

(c) This section shall not apply to any government operation or program that: (1) merely collects and compiles data about nationals of a foreign country entering or exiting the United States; or (2) issues visas, grants United States citizenship, confers an immigration benefit, or temporarily or permanently protects noncitizens from removal.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or restrain the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, from sending to, or receiving from, any local, state, or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status, consistent with Section 1373 of Title 8 of the United States Code.

Last push for Amendment #1147

Dear friends,
I am forwarding this letter from Andrea Sheppard Lomba, a Community Organizer with United Interfaith Action. UIA, like dozens of other organizations, supports Senator Jamie Eldridge’s Amendment #1147 to the Senate Budget.

As clergy and community leaders with whom I have been in relationship with as we work to re-build UIA and who have expressed a deep care and concern for the state of immigration and immigrant rights, there is a way you can help take action now.

In the coming week in Massachusetts the House of Representatives has an opportunity to vote in support of an amendment (#1147) which will help stop deportations. The Senate has already voted in favor of this amendment, but it is before the House, who may not vote in favor of it.

The attachment has more details, but the amendment:

  • prevents police from asking about immigration status,
  • ends 287(g) contracts that deputize county sheriff’s officers as ICE agents,
  • requires immigrants in custody be informed of their due-process rights, and
  • ensures Massachusetts does not contribute to a registry based religion, ethnicity, citizenship, or other protected categories.

The “ask” of your State Representative is to please support Amendment #1147 and speak with House Speaker DeLeo about supporting this amendment in the final House-Senate budget that will provide immigrant rights provisions to prevent deportations.

Please contact your state representative today or early next week (by Tuesday). The vote takes place next week, I believe. Please share with others. You can also call 617-722-2000 to determine your state representative. I have provided the New Bedford reps below.


Andrea Sheppard Lomba
Community Organizer, UIA
617-359-2680 (cell)

Massachusetts House of Representatives

Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral (D)
State House, Room 466
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-722-2017
Fax: 617-722-2813
New Bedford Office
25 Moreland Terrace
New Bedford, MA 02740
Tel: 508-997-8113
Serving New Bedford
(Ward 4: Precincts A, B, C, F, Wards 5, 6)

Rep. Christopher M. Markey (D)
State House, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-722-2392
Fax: 617-626-0250
Serving Dartmouth and
New Bedford (Ward 3:
Precincts D, E, F)

Rep. Paul A. Schmid (D)
State House, Room 473F
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-722-2210
Fax: 617-626-0267
Serving New Bedford (Ward 1, Precincts D, E, F), Freetown
(Precincts 2, 3) and WestportRep. Robert M. Koczera (D)

Rep. Robert M. Koczera (D)
State House, Room 448
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-722-2582
Serving Acushnet,
New Bedford (Ward 1:
Precincts A, B, C, Ward 2, Ward 3: Precincts B, C)

Rep. William M. Straus (D)
State House, Room 134
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-722-2400
Fax: 617-722-2387
Serving Fairhaven,
New Bedford (Ward 3:
Precinct A, Ward 4), Marion,
Mattapoisett and Rochester

Dreaming of Camelot

Both Conservatives and Liberals are awash in nostalgia for days long gone. Trump Republicans long for the good old days when men were men and women and Blacks and Hispanics and gays and foreigners knew their place. Centrist Democrats dream of the glory days of Obama and Camelot. Or what might have been with Hillary.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is pouring money into entrepreneurs, ex-prosecutors, ex-security establishment, and ex-military for Congressional races that don’t challenge Democratic incumbents. Even in “safe” Congressional races, Democratic candidates still like to play up their national security bona fides, for example as Alexandra Chandler is doing in MA-03, or incumbent Bill Keating does at every opportunity in MA-09.

In a recent piece in Blue Mass Group, Chandler penned an essay that spelled out her vision for the proper use of American power. She didn’t challenge the misuse of that power, only that more of it should be in Congressional hands. Otherwise, Chandler argued for a return to a “rules-based international order,” return of a Cold War footing regarding Russia, strengthening of military and intelligence alliances, and defending spy agencies (even after learning of rogue torture, surveillance and rendition programs).

Like many Democrats, Chandler makes excuses for Israel’s murders of Gazan demonstrators while still managing to blame Hamas (“I am confident that given different orders and rules of engagement — for instance, not to use live ammunition and to use numerous specialized riot and border control tools at their disposal — they could have protected themselves, and the security of the Israeli-Gaza border, notwithstanding Hamas-directed provocateurs among the protestors.”) Chandler strongly touts her national security resume but has little to say about criminal justice or immigration reform. And not a shred of criticism of the super-predatory capitalism we experience in the 21st Century.

Chandler is the perfect example of Democratic nostalgia for the good old days when NATO and the G7, the IMF, the World Bank, and Western institutions and alliances could put the screws to Russia while still pursuing their own colonial interests. The good old days when America (together with allies who couldn’t say “no”) would throw around their weight with a higher class of people running the show. In this nostalgic Democratic daydream, as long as well-spoken men and women (not reincarnated P. T. Barnums like Trump) have the codes to nuclear footballs and are the ones spying on the citizenry for their own good, the world is in good hands. But Democrats forget that the Kennedys, Johnsons, Clintons, and Obamas were also frightening stewards of American military, surveillance, nuclear, and economic power.

Someone sent me a link to a piece from the Cato Institute perfectly titled “A World Imagined.” Libertarians are not clear-eyed critics of Capitalism but they do seem to have 20-20 vision when it comes to the defects of Neoliberalism. In this piece the author shows why we should not be so quick to embrace a lopsided world order long loved by Republicans and Democrats alike. The author argues convincingly that Trump’s polices and authoritarian inclinations are simple-minded exaggerations of the old realpolitik long practiced by Kissinger, Albright, Cheney, Bush, Kerry, Clinton, and their friends in the national security establishment. They embrace a world order based on American Exceptionalism, a world run by white men of privilege, with foreign and domestic policies ultimately resting on authoritarianism, austerity, and privilege. Trump’s only innovation is exulting in a widespread view that a master race deserves to run the world and make the country great again.

The other night I was watching “The Good Shepherd.” You might say it’s a movie about privileged white men keeping each other’s secrets — until they decide to betray one another. Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, a Yale undergraduate inducted into the “Skull and Bones” society, who then becomes an OSS operative and later a CIA director. Wilson has a lot of blood on his hands — and not just for the Bay of Pigs but for sins much closer to home. Make some popcorn. The movie’s decent, if perhaps a bit too long.

At one point Wilson visits a mobster named Joseph Palmi (played by Joe Pesci), who controls criminal enterprises in Cuba. His character is based loosely on Sam Giancana and Santo Traficante, who Kennedy enlisted for the Bay of Pigs. Palmi agrees to help Wilson. At one point there is this exchange:

Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something… we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland; the Jews their tradition; even the niggers, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Carlson, what do you have?
Edward Wilson: The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.

The movie, of course, is fiction. But the scene nevertheless holds a very real truth. We shouldn’t become too nostalgic for the Kennedy years or the post-war “rules-based international order” and its domestic reflection in a segregated nation. The America of 1961 and an administration some still wistfully call “Camelot” bore all too many similarities to Trump’s America of 2018.

Fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party

It does not surprise me that the tagline for the Poor People’s Campaign is “a national call for moral revival.” In politics, given a choice between money and morality, you know which will win. It’s also no surprise that the demands of this campaign are not strictly economic but target racism, the environment, criminal justice, voter disenfranchisement, healthcare, foreign policy, militarism, budget priorities, and democratic institutions. The very existence of this movement is a clue that, for all their lofty platform planks, Democrats simply haven’t been listening to America’s most vulnerable people.

Tip O’Neill famously said that all politics is local. Perhaps. But local politics are now national. Dozens of Congressional primary races highlight the ideological wars being fought within the Democratic Party — viciously and with considerable help from out of state donors.

UMass Amherst political science professor Raymond LaRaja writes that, for all the Democratic Party’s disagreements, “if there is one thread that links party adherents today, it is a view of themselves as outsiders trying to gain for themselves and others a share of the fruits of American democracy and capitalism, which have been denied to them by social status.” But there any agreement ends.

In this authoritarian age a lot is at stake. Democratic Party centrists think they can tinker with and improve Capitalism, while progressives and socialists know that only radical change — and a stronger defense of democracy — will make life better for working families. These are irreconcilable philosophies that must eventually end in divorce. But for the moment — here we are together in a very odd bed.

Unlike Republicans, who abhor heterogeneity and tightly enforce party discipline, Democrats function more as a coalition than a party. LaRaja writes, “Coalitions do not make it easy to come up with coherent campaign slogans. But a more profound problem of Democratic pluralism is that the party can be biased toward a few moneyed and highly organized factions who do not reflect the broader rank-and-file. These factions include pro-environment groups, abortion rights organizations and public sector unions. They may champion important causes, but their dominance over the party’s agenda has a powerful impact on who runs for office as Democrats and what kinds of issues get pushed in government.”

No surprise, then, that the “moneyed and highly organized factions” run their political races differently too. Since their objective is to win and not necessarily fight for principles (either during or after an election), Democratic centrists run campaigns based on “viable candidates” while progressives are more interested in principles. Centrist Democrats won’t waste a dime on a candidate who can’t win, and they will look for one who can — even if he is barely distinguishable from a Republican.

Progressives, on the other hand, are willing to see their candidate go down in flames — if only for the chance to have her issues heard by voters or to keep the party from sliding even farther to the right. And progressives often have to fight the good fight with little or no support from Democratic Party institutions like the DNC or DCCC. This too is an irreconcilable difference that must eventually end in divorce.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) doesn’t yet have a Fifty State strategy but is trying to get there. It previously conceded elections in some states and put all its chips on “sure things” in others. The DCCC’s “Majority Makers” program is targeting dozens of Red districts thought to be winnable. The special Alabama Senate election of Doug Jones provided the party with new energy — but lowered the bar for its candidates. The DCCC doesn’t even conceal its bias toward Blue Dogs like Henry Cuellar over progressives and has even gone out of its way to sabotage the campaigns of progressives like Laura Moser. In the New York primary DNC Chair Tom Perez endorsed Andrew Cuomo, breaking a promise that the DNC would never again interfere in a primary election.

Last April I attended a meeting of Marching Forward in Dartmouth. The group was recruiting campaign volunteers after deciding to support four swing state Congressional candidates in the midterm elections. Three of their four candidates were DCCC “Majority Makers” — Andy Kim (NJ-03); Mikie Sherill (NJ-11); and Perry Gershon (NY-01). Volunteers would travel to these swing states and essentially take their marching orders from the DCCC.

It’s difficult to begrudge Marching Forward’s efforts. After all, each of their candidates is challenging an especially noxious Trump Republican. Each was chosen, like genes for therapeutic treatment, to target a specific defect in a specific Congressional district with precisely calibrated politics and personal attributes. Andy Kim, for example, is a former Defense Department analyst; Mikie Sherill is a decorated Navy helicopter pilot and “get-tough” federal prosecutor; and Perry Gershon is the Chief Investment Officer at Jefferies LoanCore Capital Markets LLC. None is what anyone would call a progressive. And the number of DCCC candidates waving military and national security resumes should worry everyone in post-911 America.

These candidates, to use LaRaja’s words, all want “peace, protecting the environment, separation of church and state, guarding the right to an abortion, and quality of life issues like eating locally-grown food.” But generally absent from the campaigns of these genetically-engineered DCCC candidates are issues important to brown, black, and poor people. Each represents the Clintonite wing of a Democratic Party that Thomas Frank describes in “Listen, Liberal” — gatekeepers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, prosecutors, the security establishment, technocrats.

Of course, the U.S. Congress is not the only battlefield. Republicans must be fought in state houses too. EveryDistrict has an approach similar to the DCCC’s, but aims to put more Democrats in state government, neglected for decades by the DNC. And who in their right mind would wish for EveryDistrict to fail? In 26 of 50 states Republicans have a trifecta — total control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. In contrast, Democrats have only 8. EveryDistrict’s strategy is to pick horseraces it thinks it can win, and Democratic winners twill then make the state more liberal. At least that’s the theory.

The Bernie wing of the Democratic Party consists of idealists, progressives, and socialists. Funding their candidates are various PACs that endorse and support progressive campaigns and/or candidates of color — people with a serious personal stake in making real change. They include: Color of Change, Democracy for America, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and The Collective PAC. They don’t take corporate money, they don’t have much support from the Democratic Party, and their campaigns are funded by individual donations. Sometimes even their campaign videos are self-produced, as in the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is challenging Blue Dog Democrat Joe Crowley in the NY-14 Congressional primary.

Massachusetts primaries will be here in roughly 90 days. The primaries and the general election will provide more clues about the future and the soul of the Democratic Party. Last September I pondered where Democrats were headed:

It’s still a bit early to definitively answer the question of what kind of Democrat represents the future of the party, but we should know by the time the Democratic primaries come around. If Reagan Democrats like Keating remain unchallenged, and a slew of Baby Keatings appear on ballots, then we’ll know the party’s true character — regardless of whatever lofty language is written into the platform.

We are indeed knee deep in Manchins, Joneses, Heitkamps, Moultons, and Baby Keatings. But I no longer think the future of the Democratic Party can be divined so quickly or easily. The fight for the party’s soul could take a decade — after all, it took the Tea Party twelve years to turn the GOP into a bunch of goose-stepping kleptocrats. This fight will continue as America becomes browner and poorer — and as our democratic institutions struggle to recover from the shocks of years of authoritarianism.

If you compare the two videos in this post there are obvious differences between Democrats. The America I want to live in will not be led by PAC-reliant, flag-waving technocrats but by courageous working people with moral centers and very personal stakes in an inclusive democracy. But for now we may need the technocrats — and they us — to keep the Republic from sliding even further into the abyss.


It turns out that Hillary Clinton was right about one thing — Trump’s supporters are Deplorables.

It was a fleeting, and uncharacteristically harsh, judgment from a party now running its own right-to-lifers, gun-toters, and militarists, lip-syncing the GOP’s lyrics that White America was somehow “left behind.” Taking a cue from the GOP, the Clintons’ DNC and DCCC is now downplaying racial injustice in order to court Deplorables with their Better Deal — which Dems announced last Summer from the Heart of Dixie. But their midterm strategy — sending people of color to the back of the bus if not throwing them under it — neglects the stinking rot at the root of our so-called American “democracy.”

A new study by Diana Mutz from the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, debunks the theory that White America voted for Trump because they were afraid of losing their jobs. They were simply afraid of losing their privilege.

Mutz’s abstract:

“This study evaluates evidence pertaining to popular narratives explaining the American public’s support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. First, using unique representative probability samples of the American public, tracking the same individuals from 2012 to 2016, I examine the “left behind” thesis (that is, the theory that those who lost jobs or experienced stagnant wages due to the loss of manufacturing jobs punished the incumbent party for their economic misfortunes). Second, I consider the possibility that status threat felt by the dwindling proportion of traditionally high-status Americans (i.e., whites, Christians, and men) as well as by those who perceive America’s global dominance as threatened combined to increase support for the candidate who emphasized reestablishing status hierarchies of the past. Results do not support an interpretation of the election based on pocketbook economic concerns. Instead, the shorter relative distance of people’s own views from the Republican candidate on trade and China corresponded to greater mass support for Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012. Candidate preferences in 2016 reflected increasing anxiety among high-status groups rather than complaints about past treatment among low-status groups. Both growing domestic racial diversity and globalization contributed to a sense that white Americans are under siege by these engines of change.”

Another study by Steven V. Miller at Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis at Texas A&M confirms Mutz’s “loss of privilege” theory, and also refutes the notion that democratic traditions inoculate Americans from fascist leanings. In “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy,” Miller and Davis write:

“Democracy has been durable in the United States – so durable, in fact, that serious inquiry into Americans’ attitudes toward it has been uncommon. No more.”

Working from World Values Survey data from 1995 to 2011, Miller and Davis discovered that:

“White Americans who would not want an immigrant/foreign worker, someone who spoke a different language, or someone from a different race as a neighbor are more likely to support strongman rule in the United States, rule of the U.S. government by the army, and are more likely to outright reject having a democracy for the United States. These findings are robust across multiple model specifications we analyze and report in the appendix as well.”

Their study documents the strong correlation between White America’s bigotry and proto-fascist leanings. Once White America perceives that the benefits of democracy are being extended to “others” their commitment to democracy is quickly abandoned. Like a child playing a board game, if they can’t win, they won’t play.

But this hardly comes as a surprise to the rest of America:

“[White] American citizens have not historically exhibited the sort of lofty, normative commitments to things like equality and tolerance that we might expect from one of the richest and longest-running continuous electoral democracies in the world. As Sullivan and Transue (1999) note, most citizens were willing to apply double standards that afforded one set of rights to popular groups while denying rights to more extreme or less popular groups.”

Tinkering with Capitalism may sound like a plan, but Democrats need to do a better of job of defending democracy. The surest way to do this is by defending the rights of all citizens and opposing every institution of an authoritarian, surveillance, and police state America. Once Democrats are back in power — unless they roll back the Patriot Act, stop the endless wars, pare back the military budget, dismantle FISA courts and institute sweeping reforms of the criminal justice system and ensure police accountability — they will have done nothing to rescue what’s left of our shredded democracy.