Dec. 6 Open Thread: Is Beto the One to Beat?

Filed in National, Open Thread by on December 6, 2018 20 Comments

Sure seems that way. I’ve seen headlines saying he met with Obama and that he hasn’t ruled out running, which has roused sharp-eyed progressives. RE Vanella beat her to it, but WaPo’s Elizabeth Breunig looks at the Texan’s record and reaches the same conclusion Rob did: O’Rourke is no progressive. IMO, this feels like Obama all over again — the people who like him are projecting their progressive views onto a charismatic centrist/corporate-friendly politician.

Our discussion yesterday also touched on the Green New Deal, a clunky name for a set of policy proposals that might finally give Democrats a path forward on fighting climate change. Why “Green New,” though? Why not just a Green Deal?

Remember the kerfuffle over Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test, the one that came back claiming she had about two drops of Native American blood in her veins? Turns out it’s probably no more accurate This story, of a black woman whose DNA tests came back registering her ancestry in a range from about one-third African to no African at all, lays bare the bullshit at the root of these companies’ claims.

Speaking of bad corporate behavior, the hits just keep on coming at Facebook. The Daily Beast looks at how the supposedly LGBT-friendly company’s PAC donated to a bunch of anti-gay candidates.

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  1. Beta O'Rourke says:

    Beto is no progressive. He’s basically just a fancier model of Jon Ossoff. We dems love to be charmed and infatuated by these personalities like a bunch of 8th grade girls. Aside from his bad politics (he actively didn’t support the candidate in TX-23 because of his little Republican bromance) – there’s nothing about Beto that suggests he would be a good President. He’s a lightweight who needs to stop writing dumb Medium posts and go get a real job.

    FWIW, I’m liking Sherrod Brown more and more…

    • Alby says:

      I agree with the Ossoff comparison. The problem is the charisma. You’re right about Democrats looking for white knights.

      If you want precedents, go back to Bobby Kennedy. Anti-war people loved him, ignoring his hawkish, red-baiting past. But his death froze his campaign-trail conversion in place and he’s a liberal hero today, mainly because of his ability to speak compellingly and extemporaneously.

      Seeking a savior is human nature, and many people take charisma as an indicator of heroism.

  2. RE Vanella says:

    By: Elizabeth Bruenig

    None of this is to say O’Rourke’s policies are the worst there are, or that he couldn’t beat President Trump. (I think that practically any Democrat has a good shot at beating Trump, judging by how many Obama-Trump voters in the Midwest seemed perfectly happy to flip back to blue during this year’s midterms.) But the primaries aren’t even here yet, so there’s no need to begin resigning ourselves to policies that are merely better than Republican alternatives. We still have time to pick a politician with a bold, clear, distinctly progressive agenda, and an articulated vision beyond something-better-than-this, the literal translation of hope-change campaigning. Beto is a lot like Obama, true; it’s perhaps time for left-leaning Democrats to realize that may not be a good thing.

  3. RE Vanella says:

    By: Branko Marcetic

    One of these is a direct result of the trauma many liberals have wrestled with since Trump’s victory — namely, the need to find someone, anyone, charismatic and likable enough to beat Trump. Name after absurd name has been floated the past two years to this end. First it was Michelle Obama. Then it was Meryl Streep and Beyoncé. Then it was the Rock and John Kerry. Hopes for James Comey came and went. At one point someone seriously suggested Doug Jones, currently one of the most Trump-friendly Democrats in the Senate. Joe Kennedy briefly sent hearts aflutter, because he made a speech once. And who could forget when Oprah became the frontrunner in the establishment liberal imagination for about a week, because she had also made a speech.

    It’s all been pretty embarrassing to watch, the ultimate showcase of a Democratic Party and a liberalism desperate and out of ideas, at once resistant to change and lacking the political imagination to see a path to victory through anything but the most cosmetic signifiers of success, such as a dazzling smile, a comforting baritone, or a strong social media game.

  4. delacrat says:

    I’d still vote for Cynthia McKinney who walked the talk and paid the price.

    • Alby says:

      As much as you admire her, you have to acknowledge she would not survive the primary process. She’s too easy to paint as radical.

      • delacrat says:

        Then it behooves you and the your pundit friends to remind your readers that It was not the “Radicals” like Cynthia McKinney who just canned 14K GM workers.

        • Alby says:

          No other politician canned them either.

          I think this is where our problem comes from: It does not behoove me to do anything. You have no problem stating your opinion. I don’t have to share it. Those who read DL already know these things anyway.

          • RE Vanella says:

            The 2-3 minutes spent inside the voting booth isn’t the time to be radical.

            Radical is good. I’m radical. Voting for McKinney is a selfish act to absolve you of something in your own mind.

            As long as this neoliberal corporate hellscape continues we’re all complicit whether you do your little protest vote or not.

            By the way, there’s a excellent paragraph in the Current Affairs Chomsky piece I linked to re: Chomsky’s view on electorial politics & voting.

  5. mouse says:

    It’s difficult not to like a young articulate liberal sounding guy

    • delacrat says:

      He’s just “liberal sounding”.

      • RE Vanella says:

        Don’t forget the viral videos! Skateboarding. Air drumming.

        He’s was going air drum us out of Medicare for All.

        Like WJ Clinton saxaphoned us from universal healthcare to the Crime Bill and Glass Stegall repeal.

        I remember it.

  6. RE Vanella says:

    Happy Birthday Noam Chomsky! Born on this date 90 years ago in the East Oak Lane neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA.

    Libertarian socialism, the political tradition in which Noam Chomsky operates, which is closely tied to anarchism, rejects this distinction [freedom vs. equality] as illusory. If the word “libertarianism” is taken to mean “a belief in freedom” and the word “socialism” is taken to mean “a belief in fairness,” then the two are not just “not opposites,” but they are necessary complements. That’s because if you have “freedom” from government intervention, but you don’t have a fair economy, your freedom becomes meaningless, because you will still be faced with a choice between working and starving. Freedom is only meaningful to the extent that it actually creates a capacity for you to act. If you’re poor, you don’t have much of an actual capacity to do much, so you’re not terribly free. Likewise, “socialism” without a conception of freedom is not actually fair and equal. Libertarian socialists have always been critical of Marxist states, because the libertarian socialist recognizes that “equality” enforced by a brutal and repressive state is not just “un-free,” but is also unequal, because there is a huge imbalance of power between the people and the state. The Soviet Union was obviously not free, but it was also not socialist, because “the people” didn’t actually control anything; the state did.

    The libertarian socialist perspective is well-captured by a quote from the pioneering anarchist Mikhail Bakunin: “Liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.” During the 1860s and 70s, 50 years before Soviet Union, Bakunin warned that Marxist socialism’s authoritarian currents would lead to hideous repression. In a Marxist regime, he said:

    “There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe betide the mass of ignorant ones!… You can see quite well that behind all the democratic and socialistic phrases and promises of Marx’s program, there is to be found in his State all that constitutes the true despotic and brutal nature of all States.”

    (This is why, while I rely on Marx to understand the oppressive mechanisms of Capital, I take the critique of quote-Marxist government-unquote very seriously.)

  7. RE Vanella says:

    Chomsky’s approach to “political reality” seems to me a good balance of both radicalism and pragmatism. He is an anarchist in his strong skepticism of authority, and a utopian in his belief that the ideal world is a world without social class or unjust hierachies of any kind, a world without war or economic deprivation. But he is also deeply conscious of the realities of the world we live in and the need for those who care about moving towards this utopia to be willing to take small steps rather than just wait for a “revolution.”

    Consider Chomsky’s approach to voting. Chomsky believes simultaneously that (1) voting is not a very important part of politics, because it doesn’t change much thanks to the combination of the typically awful candidates and the low impact of a single vote and (2) you should still vote, and if you live in swing state, you should vote for the Democratic candidate for president. He is radical in that he believes we need far broader political action than simply voting once every few years for the least-worst of two major party candidates, but practical in that he also believes that it’s better if Democrats get into office than Republicans. Chomsky understands that you can simultaneously work to save ObamaCare and believe that it’s a pitiful substitute for a genuine health-care guarantee, and we need much more radical change.

    See: Chomsky on Voting and Democrats

  8. Alby says:

    We don’t live in a swing state, so the presidential vote of any one Delaware citizen has a practical value very close to zero. I used to vote routinely for a third-party presidential candidate, not to assuage my conscience but to add my infinitesimal marker to the “neither of the above” total.

    Arguing that Hillary Clinton would get Delaware’s 3 electoral college votes no matter what I did brought on a lot of pushback. My takeaway: As Chomsky explains, one vote means almost nothing, but some folks are seriously sensitive about how they use theirs — and others are heavily invested in telling you how to use yours.

    I don’t tell people how to vote. I’ll explain who I’m voting for and why, but what individuals do with the information is their own decision to make. But it can’t be denied that in Delaware, who you pick for president in the voting booth really doesn’t matter.

  9. RE Vanella says:

    Deciding what is & what is not a swing state is tricky. But generally yeah, you’re correct.

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