My progressive friends are appalled that the Democratic #establishment, through party apparatus like the Democratic National Committee, undermines progressives in favor of centrist candidates.
The so-called “Bernie Sanders wing of the party” is a threat to the power and pocketbooks of the Wall Street-Martha’s Vineyard-Obama-Clinton wing of the party. There’s no reason to expect them to yield the field out of a vague fancy of small-d democratic virtue when it would mean higher taxes to fund puppies and lollipops and single-payer health care. The Democratic Party has spent 30 years under the spell of a corporate imperial wing that will go away when they are out-organized and defeated.
The Democratic #establishment has not endorsed ousting incumbent Democrats, but they should consider it. In California, top-two primaries can mean two Democrats face off in a general election, as happened with Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, Scott Wiener and Jane Kim, and Davids Chiu and Campos. Kevin DeLeon challenging Dianne Feinstein may open the floodgates to more such challenges of incumbents.
Like those of Nancy Pelosi.
SEE RELATED: Immigrants (protesting Pelosi) get the job done
Pelosi has held onto leadership after Congressional Democrats lost power through four consecutive elections. Normally, when a faction suffers as humiliating a defeat as House Democrats did in 2010, the leader falls on his or her sword.
Pelosi may be a liability to a 2018 electoral wave. She’s shorthand for Republican attacks on clueless coastal elites. Every Democratic Congressional candidate has to deflect Pelosi-based smear ads. These attacks are undeserved, unfair and sexist. But politics is about winning, and if your enemy hates you more than your own side loves you, then you’re an albatross.
The right hated Barack Obama with a burning, racist passion, but he was a beloved, transcendent politician. Pelosi, despite her many strengths and significant history of service, has not given speeches that brought people to tears or inspired a Black Eyed Peas video. She is technically adept, but her politics are to the right of Democratic voters.
Enter young upstart Ryan Khojasteh, a 26-six year old law student and son of Iranian parents. He’s earned endorsements from the San Francisco Young Democrats, Latino Democratic Club and Richmond District Democrats. It’s highly unusual for officially recognized Democratic Party clubs to endorse a challenger to a powerful incumbent.
Pelosi is a millionaire. With a contrasting biography, Khojasteh’s parents fled the revolution of Iran.
“My family has been separated for decades because of failed foreign policies and flawed immigration policies. And now, with this travel ban, we’re back at square one,” he said. “When my mother worked in Silicon Valley as a female engineer, whether she had a cubicle, or a small windowless office, it seemed she was expendable as a woman in a field dominated by men. Her experiences motivated me to fight for equal pay and paid family leave.”
Pelosi was protested by undocumented youth. Khosjateh was there.
“My family’s immigrant experience inspired me to fight for a clean DREAM Act, and pathways to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants,” he said.
Pelosi doesn’t support single-payer health care, even though a majority of Democratic voters do — including Khosjasteh.
“I support a single-payer health care system,” he said, “and support for single-payer should be voters’ litmus test for candidates in 2018.”
Pelosi has supported anti-choice Democratic candidates and doesn’t want to exclude anti-choice candidates whose views on abortion are to the right of 70 percent of Americans. And Khojasteh, well, you know the drill …
“When women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies are under unprecedented threat, access to abortion should be a litmus test,” Khosjateh said. “Reproductive justice is economic justice. I will work toward a federal Right to Choose law to preempt state laws that limit women’s autonomy over their bodies. I would prioritize universal birth control for women because many struggle with the co-pays, and repeal the Hyde Amendment.”
However you land on these issues, it’s good to know there is a distinction between candidates.
Nato Green’s second comedy album, “The Whiteness Album,” is available now wherever comedy is streamed or downloaded. He’s a writer and comedian currently in exile in Cuba but thinks he might come home soon.