The authors do get a lot right – Justice Democrats are not backing down. They are ready to fight for the working classes. They are fighting for progressive policies. They are ready to take on anyone who prioritizes profit over people.
The media bias is evident, though, as the authors:
1- accuse the Justice Democrats of waging war,
2- discourage Justice Democrats from primarying Democrats,
3- accuse Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Justice Democrats of not being honest actors, and
4- dismiss progressive policies as radical.
Media Outlet: Politico
Politico Authors: Laura Barron-Lopez and Heather Caygle
Click here for the original article.
#1: It is correct to suggest that Justice Democrats are aggressive and going on the offense, but to state that they are attempting to “hijack,” or steal, the Democratic party is to accept the false premise that the Democratic establishment owns the Democratic party and that Justice Democrats are not fighting for what is important to Democratic voters. Justice Democrats and progressives at large are responding to the decades long plight of the working classes. The idea that progressives are waging a war without cause is simply not accurate. If anything, the party has been hijacked by the rich and powerful and this sentiment has been made clear by the Justice Democrats.
- Opening statement of the article says that Justice Democrats are working to hijack the Democratic party: “Justice Democrats, the liberal group that engineered Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s meteoric rise — hijacking the Democratic Party in the process — is ready to go to war.”
- The video referenced in this article includes several statement that the authors did not include, but which demonstrate that Justice Democrats view the Democratic party as having been hijacked by the rich and powerful:
- “With this administration, with the role of money in politics, with how our policy is being hijacked by the industries that profit from the despair of working people[…] It’s all hands on deck for our democracy right now.” –Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- “I remember some of the moments when I felt really dejected about politics. The extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2010 and seeing that the same people were financing all campaigns and I was like what is event the difference of a Democrat and a Republican?” –Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- “Justice Democrats are trying to find people who have some example of self-sacrifice of integrity, real service that you put in, more than how much money can you raise or who are the people that you know.” –Saikat Chakrabarti
- The policies promoted by Justice Democrats align with the Democratic Party platform. The difference is that Justice Democrats argue for the party to understand the urgency of these issues and focus on getting the policies passed rather than paying lip service in order to get re-elected.
- #MedicareForAll – This was the top issue in 2018 elections, supported by Justice Democratic candidates and many other Democratic candidates. It is also supported by 84% of Democratic voters (Reuters poll). While not specifically mentioned in the Democratic Party platform, #MedicareForAll is arguably the most effective way to reflect the goal of universal health coverage and the stated, official Democratic Party position that healthcare is a right, which is in the platform.
- #GreenNewDeal – The most high-profile policy objective presented by the most high-profile Justice Democrat (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) is perfectly in line with the Democratic Party platform agenda item “Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice.” It is also an issue which has been mentioned by many prominent Democrats.
- $15/hr living wage – This issue was strongly supported by Justice Democrats and is also the first agenda item of the Democratic Party platform, as well as a current policy proposal with support amongst Democratic Representatives.
- Tuition-free college – Another agenda item strongly supported by Justice Democrats candidates which seems to best reflect the stated, official Democratic Party platform position that every student should go to college debt-free.
- “One of the things that gets told in order to settle us down is ‘I agree with you. We have the same goals.’ It’s great that everyone thinks these issues are important. We need to make them urgent.” –Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- “There’s a lot of people in the Democratic caucus. When we are courageous enough to just puncture the silence on an issue, they will start to move. Don’t people realize that the most powerful position you can be in is when you are not materially attached to a position of power?” –Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- “The only way that we’re ever going to be able to change the structures of power in our highest levels of government is if we can get people like you that are closest to the community into the halls of power to talk about these big ideas.” –Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
#2: This article appears to be an attempt to discourage Justice Democrats and others from primarying other Democrats. Primaries, however, are a fundamental aspect of democracy which can only strengthen a party and allow a more accurate representation of the people, more options for people to vote for, and higher voter engagement.
- There are 9 quotes in the article that are not from Ocasio-Cortez or Justice Democrats. 8 of them are about Justice Democrats primarying other Democrats. 7 of those 8 are against Justice Democrats primarying Democrats, and the article closes with one of them.
- There are Democrats currently in office who who were elected by primarying Democratic Party incumbents. Some examples:
- Rep Bobby Rush (D) IL-1 defeated incumbent Charles Hayes (D) in 1992
- Ro Khanna (D) CA-17 defeated incumbent Mike Honda (D) in 2016
- Eric Swalwell (D) CA-15 defeated incumbent Pete Stark (D) in 2012
- Incumbents often welcome the challenge, understanding that it is part of the democratic process, (Ex: Rep Danny K Davis IL-7 welcomes the competition), particularly if it will increase voter participation in the midterm elections: “Davis said he doesn’t know Clark but added that he welcomes the competition, particularly if it will increase voter participation in the midterm elections.”
- The U.S. Constitution simply states the PEOPLE will select Representatives every 2 years. It says nothing about political parties, or getting approval from party leadership on who should run, or if incumbents should be shielded from challengers.
- State Election Laws give specific instructions on the qualifications, forms, and procedure to run for office in any primary election (ex: IL election laws). There’s no rule about not running against the incumbent, whether you’re in the same party as them or not. In fact, they provide all the info and forms to do just that with no discouragement from doing so.
- We can’t find anything in The Democratic Party platform, or official, stated positions of the Democratic Party which discourages primary campaigns vs Democratic incumbents. It does not appear to be an official position.
#3: The authors open the article by referring to a video recently published by Justice Democrats. It is curious that the video is not linked in the article, but their agenda becomes obvious due to the authors’ erroneous suggestion that Ocasio-Cortez is not being honest about her relationship with Justice Democrats. The video is clearly an ad to motivate people to run for office. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Ocasio-Cortez nor her staffers have any say over who the Justice Democrats will target in 2020.
The authors imply that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her staffers are directly involved in strategic decisions being made by Justice Democrats, suggesting that they aren’t honest actors:
“[c]laiming to not be involved in the group’s plans to mount primaries against incumbent Democrats it deems too moderate[…] But Wednesday’s video, featuring Ocasio-Cortez and her two senior aides discussing those very plans over coffee with Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas, is far from the neutral position she’s espoused.”
However, the 9 minute video is clearly an ad to recruit more candidates and motivate people that they too can run for office and make great change. Ocasio-Cortes’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti wraps up the video with a call to action:
“Justice Democrats is trying to find people who have some examples of self-sacrifice of integrity, real service that you put in, more than how much money can you raise or who the people that you know are.” -Saikat Chakabraki, timestamp 8:09
#4: The authors undermine progressive policies, dismissing them as “radical,” as if to suggest that they are an extreme position to what the average voter would want, or a solution that is unorthodox. This is false. Progressive policies are populist, which are by nature cross-partisan because of their supermajority support, and they are based on evidence-based research.
- They refer to a 70% marginal tax rate as “radical” when it was in fact 70% and higher in 1980 and earlier. There is nothing unorthodox about it.
- They refer to the Green New Deal as “radical,” even though the policy solutions offered receive bipartisan support, and have already been tested and proven to address evidence-based research regarding the economy, jobs, and environment.
- A December 2018 survey conducted by Yale and George Mason University found that the Green New Deal has overwhelming bipartisan support from voters.
- Georgetown, TX mayor Dale Ross, a conservative Republican, supports the Green New Deal, acknowledging its potential to create jobs and lower utility bills, as well as the moral obligation to leave younger generations with a livable planet.
- Progressive populist presidential candidate Richard Ojeda, who voted for Trump, supports the Green New Deal because of its potential to employ displaced coal miners while preventing climate catastrophe.
- The municipal utility in Georgetown, TX became the first in the U.S. to eliminate fossil fuels and generate all of its utility energy from renewable sources in 2015. At Bernie’s town hall on climate change (Dec. 3, 2018), Georgetown mayor Dale Ross reported lower utility bills and positive job prospects in wind and solar (referring to former oil workers who will be able to retire sooner now that they work on wind turbines).
- Denton, TX will be the second city in the U.S. to run on 100% renewables, working with people who made the switch possible in Georgetown. The city drafted a plan to reach this goal by 2020.
- The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) in Illinois was signed into law in December 2016 and became effective in June 2017. The law largely relies on solar projects (rooftop, community, and brownfield) for energy production. Communities and individuals can make extra money or get credit on their utility bills by generating surplus energy that will go back to the grid. Low-income families receive incentives and assistance for subscribing to solar programs. The law’s Solar for All initiative projects 2,000 new jobs will be created for “people with records and alumni of the foster care system.”
- California’s Buy Clean Lawrequires the state to prioritize companies with low supply-chain pollution when purchasing glass, insulation, and steel.
- In 2017, Costa Rica generated 100% of its utility power from renewable sources for 360 days out of the year. Last May, new president Carlos Alvarado announced plans to completely eliminate fossil fuels from utilities and transportation by 2021.
- Last February, data from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) “showed 43 cities worldwide were already entirely powered by clean energy.” Thirty of these cities are in Latin America, where hydropower is abundant.
We will no longer be silenced.
- Thank the authors for covering Justice Democrats
- Request that the authors address the media bias in their article.
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- Lbarronlopez@politico.com – LAURA BARRÓN-LÓPEZ, co-author
- Hcaygle@politico.com – HEATHER CAYGLE, co-author