By Antonio Agcaoili
Special to the Chronicle
There has been a narrative out in the mainstream that caught steam over the summer. Though the idea has been around since 2015, the very notion that Progressives are racist may come as a shock to those who have sheltered themselves from such slander. Most people have reacted with a simple scoff – as they should. As a person of color and a tried and true Progressive Democrat, these statements against people of my caliber are simply untrue, unfair and dirty.
Where did it come from? Well, a common strategy in politics (which is often utilized by the right) is “when you can’t win on the issues, you smear your opponent.” For example, when Senator Bernie Sanders (who at the time was a presidential candidate) dropped the iconic “America” ad, the right-wing smear merchant and president of Hillary Clinton-backing super PAC “Correct the Record” David Brock told the Associated Press, “From this ad it seems black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders.”
Despite both Brock and Clinton receiving immense backlash from the claim, the narrative stuck in the playbook of Democrats willing to smear Progressives who they know they can’t defeat. A photo of Bernie Sanders being arrested for fighting in favor of civil rights was released by the Chicago Tribune, which made rounds throughout the Internet. However, it was ignored by establishment-leaning media and top Democrats, who are the culprits behind the latest smear.
The sparring between the two factions of the Democratic Party has started to get ugly once again with the publishing of an article featuring potential 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris. She has been highly considered especially since meeting with top Clinton donors right here on Long Island, in the Hamptons no less. The response of progressives has been a crystal-clear “no,” even spawning the Twitter hashtag #NeverKamala.
Anthony Joyce wrote an article for Mic concerning the #NeverKamala craze entitled, “Democratic rising star Kamala Harris has a ‘Bernieland’ problem.” In response, Neera Tanden, president of the Center of American Progress and Clinton supporter tweeted, “So odd, no, that these folks have if (sic) in for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker …. hhhhmmm.”
The implications made by Mrs. Tanden are clear and one would need to be ignorant to automatically assume Progressives have any sort of racial resentment towards any candidate. Let’s not forget that it was the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party that nominated the first African-American to be a major party’s nominee, and to my recollection, I believe he won.
There is a legitimate reason for pushback against Harris and Booker, a movement that has recently gained support from Obama staffer and former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick. Progressives are fully aware of how these candidates stand. Progressives won’t support Harris due to her failures in prosecuting the OneWest Bank in California. The former president and current Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin donated to Harris’ 2016 senate campaign, which she happily accepted. Harris was the only Senate Democrat to receive any amount of money from Mnuchin, and Progressives are fully aware. They won’t back Booker, as they still hold major resentment for his and twelve other Democrats’ vote to not import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. Though Patrick has a low national profile, he currently serves as a Managing Director for Bain Capital. Once Progressives know of his unbecoming willingness to work for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, his likelihood of winning the nomination will be as successful as an attempt by Joe Manchin.
Real economic Progressives won’t back anyone whose record contradicts their rhetoric, and they certainly won’t support anyone with presidential aspirations if they aren’t economic populists and advocates for civil rights. The very idea of throwing race into a potential Democratic Presidential primary will throw a bad apple in the batch and spoil any attempt of an intelligent political discussion. Some may recall how dirty the Obama-Clinton primary in 2008 was, with Clinton’s team releasing photos of Sen. Obama in traditional Somali garb to fuel speculation of his potential ties with Islam, and Sen. Clinton implying that her strength with white voters makes her more electorally viable. Once race is thrown into the mix, we’ll sink further into the “rock bottom” we’ve already grown accustomed to.
We mustn’t forget what happened in July of 2016 at the Democratic National Convention, where Bernie Sanders who was closing the first night was supposed to have someone introduce him. That would have been former Ohio senator and current president of Our Revolution Nina Turner. However, she was denied the ability to address the convention. A Progressive black woman was silenced, and by who you may ask? Big bad Bernie Sanders? No, it was the Interim Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile.
The views and opinions expressed in the Editorial section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.