As Jeff Cohen points out, political fear of progressives and corporate power have pushed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) towards strategies for stopping primary challenges
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MARC STEINER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner. Great to have you all with us for our weekly look at the news. In this segment, we are going to tackle what’s happening to progressive politicians in this country. The Right is threatening people with death in some of their tweets and more against several Congresswomen, especially women of color in Congress, which we’ll talk about. But the story that is not being told a lot is about the D.C.C.C., the Democratic campaign committee, that says it is trying to stop progressive politicians from challenging established politicians in primaries. What’s that all about? Well, we’re here once again with Jeff Cohen who is co-founder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, and Jacqueline Luqman who is Editor-in-Chief of Luqman Nation and a regular contributor to The Real News. Let’s just jump into this right away. In this piece here that we have, they have a form from the D.C.C.C. that came out that you have to sign if you are going to do any kind of work with the D.C.C.C. or any candidates. In one segment it says and they have to sign this, “I understand the above statement that the D.C.C.C. will not conduct business with nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting member of the House Democratic Caucus. And that’s what they have to sign, threatening vendors and threatening people who are consultants, and more. Jeff Cohen, you’re smiling so go ahead.
JEFF COHEN: This is this is so offensive. Some of the exciting members of Congress, they got in there by challenging incumbents. A.O.C. challenged an incumbent in New York, Ayanna Pressley challenged an incumbent in Massachusetts, Ro Khanna, who’s a great progressive in his second term, he challenged an incumbent. So you have Cheri Bustos, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, telling consultants if they work with these challengers, they won’t be punished, they will be blacklisted. And what’s interesting is Cheri Bustos of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the D.C.C.C) She doesn’t tell consultants, “hey, if you work for the pharmaceutical industry, we won’t give you business. If you work for the oil or coal industries, we won’t give you business. It’s just if you work for a progressive challenger, you won’t get business from the Democratic leadership”. It’s stunning and it’s revealing.
MARC STEINER: So let’s talk about the stunning and revealing issue around this and what this really means. Jacqueline, I’ll start with you and then come back to Jeff here. So what is the dynamic going on here? We understand the corporate control of the party and what happened in the last election in shutting down progressives and shutting down Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election, but Progressives have taken a huge foothold in Democratic Party politics now and they’re pushing hard. So let’s talk about what the two of you think of the internal dynamics and what’s going on here.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Well the internal dynamics are that the D.C.C.C. does not want to relinquish power to a bunch of upstart Progressives. That’s really what this is all about. They don’t want to lose the corporate lobbyist money that come in from these incumbent candidates who not all of them, not all of them, but many, too many incumbent House Democrats are very friendly to very large corporate interests. And we know by now– if we don’t, we should– that corporate interests often run counter to the interests of the people. So what’s shocking about this is that the D.C.C.C is trying to keep power in the House. They’re trying to maintain power. They’re also trying to maintain the corporate money flow coming. Not all incumbent House members are aligned with big money corporate interests, but too many are. And if we haven’t learned by now, corporate interests usually run counter to the interest of the people. So what this really means, why this is so shocking to me, is that the D.C.C.C is limiting the exposure for voters of candidates who might be better, who they might like more than the incumbent candidates, who they feel aren’t doing enough for them and certainly aren’t supporting progressive policies. That’s why this is shocking to me, because it looks like the D.C.C.C is limiting the choice of voters.
MARC STEINER: And why do you think, Jeff, they feel a threat?
JEFF COHEN: Because Progressives, especially these young women of color in Congress, are raising hell, becoming popular, have huge social media followings. But I believe it’s important to point out that the Justice Democrats, the Progressives, have just put out an e-mail where they said that the D.C.C.C. in the first quarter of 2019, raised $400,000 or more from corporate lobbyists and bundlers. Jacqueline made an important point. Ninety percent of the Democratic districts are true blue. They’re uncontested; they will always be Democratic. You could run a blue dog in November and the Democrats would win. So if constituents don’t have an opportunity to choose between two candidates in the primary, they have no role in Congressional elections. So it really does shut out the voters and that’s the goal of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. They are afraid of the voters.
MARC STEINER: So what do you both think this means in terms of the power of the Progressive Movement and where it’s going? There are a lot of Progressives who lost in these primaries, who fought very hard campaigns but lost. A number of them won. You’re seeing a battle take place in the State Senate in New York right now around Cuomo saying he was really upset with people who were running in these primary challenges and want you to oppose them, battles taking place in their Caucus, so this is falling down to the states, as well. Something’s afoot here and I want Jeff really quickly to give your analysis. What do you think is afoot politically, Jeff?
JEFF COHEN: I think that the Progressives are showing that they don’t need the corporate money, that they can get online small donations from lots of donors, and that scares the hell out of the leadership of the Democratic Party, which has relied so heavily on corporate donors. There’s a civil war going on in the Democratic Party and the progressive candidates and politicians are with the base. And the corporate Democrats are increasingly isolated and fearful.
MARC STEINER: Jacqueline?
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: That’s absolutely true. That’s absolutely correct. I can’t add anything to that.
MARC STEINER: Well we’ll stay on top of this story. I think it’s a really important story and look forward to interviewing a lot of people who are involved in the progressive politics in this country to really get into this, to understand the depth of this, and where this can be taking us. We’re here with Jacqueline Luqman and Jeff Cohen. In our next segment, we are going to take a look at the power Steven Miller, the rise of nationalist power inside the Trump administration, and what that means. I’m Marc Steiner here for The Real News Network. Don’t miss the next segment.