Progressive organizations are at an impasse for the 2018 election and beyond. If they do not get their act together, they will all continue to fail with all their good intentions.
I participate in several Progressive organizations both directly and indirectly. For this article, I will not name any. Suffice it to say; this commentary applies to just about every organization.
The #AbolishICE moniker has become yet another clarion call for many Progressive groups. Many are demanding that Democratic politicians who are running as Progressives adopt this stance. In fact, many are using it as a litmus test.
Well known Houston Progressive activist journalist Sam Oser wrote an article titled "Beto O’Rourke is Not Going to Abolish ICE" recently that should give those who want to win 2018 pause.
Tuesday night, local activist Sarahy Garcia confronted Beto O’Rourke about his stance on abolishing ICE. Before she was visibly harassed by some audience members, he responded with:
“So don’t lecture me about the border and immigrants and things that we need to do. I’m doing everything that I can right now and I will continue to do everything that I can.”
He mentions that he is doing and will continue to do everything he can regarding this issue, but he does not take a firm stand in lining himself with abolishing ICE. Why? As a current representative for El Paso, Hispanics and Latinos of any race account for almost 81 percent of the city’s population. ICE has a handbook on how to strip citizenship from naturalized Americans, per a report from The Intercept.
Later in the article, Oser wrote the following.
Robert Francis O’Rourke was not eligible to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 2013 for the simple fact that he is not Hispanic. Robert Francis O’Rourke uses “Beto” to pander to the Hispanic demographic the same way Rafael Edward Cruz uses “Ted” to pander the white demographic. Sure, O’Rourke is not taking corporate or PAC money in his run for Senate, however, he is still beholden to his previous campaign donors as he is still serving as U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district.
I have complete respect for Progressive activist journalists like Sam Oser who are in fact making a difference with their reporting. They are not falling for the journalistic traps that make reporting an arm of the plutocracy that adheres to rules that are no longer valid in the type of politics that uses traditional journalism as a weapon against the masses.
That said, it is vital that one understands the power of words, the influence that their informed opinions have not only on the masses but the actual outcome of elections.
Oser's statements reflect the sentiment of many Progressive organizations. Moreover, her later unnecessary, ethnic appropriation "attack" on Beto is also a tactic I've seen used by those who disagree with his "nonsupport" for #AbolishICE. We can disagree on tactics and still support one another for the better good, the Progressive values we all back in the aggregate.
As an activist political blogger/journalist myself, I support the #AbolishICE moniker and movement. However, tactically I continue to believe that we must not use it as one of our litmus tests for Democratic and Progressive candidates. In the short and long run, it won't win elections nor help the ones it is intended to help.
Recently I wrote the article "Immigration could be a fatal Achilles heel for Progressives in 2018" that indicates why we can win the moral argument and lose because of tactical miscalculations.
A few days ago I was making that point on Politics Done Right. I wanted to point out the dangers in the manner in which we address Trump's xenophobic evil in general but specifically his cruel deeds at the border. In the process of making the argument on the episode of the show, a caller, a black man from New Orleans called in. I found his words not only sincere but one that rarely gets addressed by Progressives as they make the immigration case. ...
The black man from New Orleans has seen immigrants come into his community and extract without making any attempts of being a part of their fabric. Moreover, through the prisms of their eyes, they see people from foreign lands and adapt many of the behaviors of their racist compatriots. Why then would they have any heightened desire to further assist the immigration process of anyone?
But the immigration issue and how it plays out is ultimately deeper. That family irrespective of race or ethnic background who is suffering in Appalachia or the middle of any part of urban or rural America may justifiably ask similar questions. That angst can quickly turn any favorable poll toward immigrants rapidly. And it does not solely affect the unskilled. Attacking HB-1 visas can promptly bring the professionals into the anti-immigration fold as well.
If Progressives do not modify our narrative and also learn to walk and chew gum at the same time in a cohesive manner, then the immigration poll numbers can turn on a dime. And once again the moral argument would succumb to fear. ...
At the same time, we are fighting like hell for our immigrant brothers and sisters on the border, we must visibly enter those distressed communities and let them know we are fighting for them too. It is not a zero-sum gain.
In effect, the immigration issue is not only about doing the morally correct thing. It is about educating and dispelling misinformation and false beliefs.
Progressive can support all our movements even if we do not entirely agree with them tactically. Ultimately our shared values are the same and reflect those of much of society. To win elections, however, we must have a cohesive message in which every American knows it speaks to them and will make their lives and the lives of their families better.
Beto O'Rourke is the best option Progressives, Democrats, and Texans have to unseat one of the Senate's most demonstrably divisive lying demagogues. In this author's humble opinion he has proven his Progressive bona fides. O'Rourke may not cleanly check all boxes that many Progressive organizations want. Tactically, he is threading a needle necessarily where traditional journalism has not caught up with today's politics. As such, he must couch his stances with those in the know and to those easily deceived.
Progressive have got to be tactical. There are times when we must temper purity for pragmatism. After all, our goal isn't solely to be morally correct but to win elections so we can effectuate our policies that are better for all Americans.