Washington Post Wants A Repeat of 2016

Washington Post and Journalist Jennifer Rubin Publish Over 20 Attacks Against Bernie Sanders

by Letitia Page, TYT Army

A disturbing trend has saturated the mainstream media’s coverage of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, one that is awfully similar to what we witnessed in 2016. While we continue to debate the reasons for the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, one thing is certain: the mainstream media played a significant role in elevating then-candidate Donald Trump through their coverage with billions of dollars of free publicity. Similarly, their coverage of the Democratic primary gave Hillary Clinton a significant advantage over Senator Bernie Sanders: first, by allocating Sanders’ campaign little to no coverage—even ignoring his announcement to run for president1—then, by oscillating between a near media blackout of Sanders’ platform and a constant bombardment of unwarranted attacks in the press.2,3,4,5

The disparaging mantra of the mainstream media throughout the primary was abundantly clear: Sanders can’t win.6 His policies are far too radical for the center majority of voters.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin appears intent on following the media playbook from 2016. She has published more than 20 anti-Sanders, anti-progressive hit-pieces in The Washington Post since March.7 While Rubin is not the only journalist to continually harp on Sanders, she is certainly one of the most prolific. Her bias towards establishment Democrats is well-known, but she presents her articles as though she is offering objective reporting. As a writer for a widely read media platform, Rubin has a particular responsibility to shape her opinions based on fact, not simply conjecture, whether it be in an opinion piece or an investigative report. Yet, her articles often lack substance, facts, or even credible arguments. This allows her to use her influence to alter voter opinion with little to no accountability. 

Rubin Misconstrues Voter Enthusiasm as Moderate Candidate Appeal

In her rush to downplay the popularity of Sanders’ progressive platform, Jennifer Rubin misconstrues the enormous enthusiasm from millenials in 2018 by conflating higher voter turnout rates with support for centrist candidates.8 Rubin quotes census data stating that, “[a]mong 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group—a 79 percent jump…” Her conclusion is that “while moderate candidates showed the ability to energize a diverse electorate, the same cannot be said for the far left.”

Assertions like this are an attempt to drive home Rubin’s counterfactual argument that the majority of voters—including millennials—are more willing to vote for moderate, centrist candidates than for progressives. Rubin echoes the mainstream media’s narrative that the safer bet in 2020 would be to pick a centrist like Biden, whom people ages 18-29 will be “more than happy to vote for.” 9,10,11,12,13

The 79 percent jump in millennial voter turnout that Rubin cites is more likely due to the progressive policies put forth by the majority of Democratic candidates. According to an analysis by the Progressive Change Institute, 65 percent of freshman House Democrats support some version of Medicare for All, while several red states have passed progressive legislation as a result of the 2018 elections. In an article for The Atlantic, Elaine Godfrey highlights some of these progressive wins: “Missouri and Arkansas passed a bill to raise the minimum wage; Louisiana passed criminal-justice reform; and Medicaid expansion was approved in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska.” Such victories are hardly a sign that most of the country is center-right.

Rubin frequently pushes the idea that Biden’s moderate incrementalism is the best bet for defeating Trump, but she often overlooks the key takeaways from 2016.14,15,16,17 One of the chief reasons self-proclaimed moderate Democrat Hillary Clinton lost was her status-quo, “incremental change” approach to the issues.18,19,20 This was predominantly true in the key swing states she needed to win, where former Obama voters, still seeking change, opted for the empty promises of Trump rather than promises of little or no change made by Clinton.21 Backing Biden, arguably more centrist and right-leaning than Clinton, would be implementing the same losing strategy Democrats tried in 2016, all but guaranteeing another Trump victory.  This risk seems lost on Rubin as she makes her case against Sanders and progressives, whom she has deemed too far left to win.22,23,24

Although defeating Trump is a high priority for Democrats in 2020, the kind of candidate voters believe can win is not as cut and dried as Rubin might have us believe. In one-on-one match-ups with Trump that poll heavily from moderate Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents over 50 (who typically favor Biden) Bernie Sanders beats Trump by five points or more in nearly every poll. So, picking a centrist Democrat is not only unnecessary in 2020, but ill-advised, haphazard, and far from the best bet for a Democratic nominee.

To win key voters in the swing states that Clinton lost to Trump, the better bet would be to pick a populist candidate who appeals to the working-classes and Democratic-leaning base, as Sanders did in 2016. Sanders’ working-class, millennial base of support has not waned and has quite possibly increased. In swing districts where Sanders won the 2016 primary but Trump won the general election, Sanders runs second to Biden among the moderate, white, over-50 voters comprising most polls, and leads the millennial vote in those states, usually by a big margin.25 It is reasonable to assume that Sanders’ base will turn out in greater numbers for him than for Biden in 2020, and by a larger majority than over-50 voters, since Boomers and the Silent Generation are projected to decline from their 2016 eligible voter totals by 44 to 36 percent in 2020. Gen-Zs, millennials, and Gen-Xers aged 18-52 are poised to make up about 62 percent of eligible voters in 2020. That leaves room for an even bigger margin than the 2.1 million votes millennials and Gen-Xers cast over Boomers and older voters in 2018.

Rubin Downplays Progressive Wins, Misleads Readers

In a May 10, 2019 op-ed for The Washington Post, Rubin downplays progressive wins in 2018 by pushing a quote from Third Way, a self-described “center-left” think tank. Third Way compares the 32 out of 37 primary swing-seats that moderate New Democrats won in the House to Our Revolution’s “under 40 percent” primary win rate.26 The quote states that “23 New Democrat-backed candidates flipped House seats to help gain the majority, while not a single Our Revolution-endorsed candidate captured a red seat. Zero.”27 While these two statements are independently factual, her analysis is an apples-to-oranges comparison that a journalist should call out, not propagate.

Rubin is quick to point out that Our Revolution did not endorse the 23 Democrats who flipped House seats. She is also quick to forget that 10 Our Revolution-backed candidates won House seats in 2018: five incumbents and five freshmen, who have been influential in pushing the progressive agenda in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, and Pramila Jayapal are some of the well-known progressives Our Revolution endorsed—an impressive success which Rubin minimizes.

Instead, Rubin sides with Third Way’s assessment that “despite some electric wins by ultra-progressives in cobalt-blue House districts, the real story is how well mainstream and pragmatic progressive Democrats fared” (emphasis added). From this, Rubin concludes that “the lesson from 2018 was that moderate Democrats could flip seats from red to blue. While they won over college-educated suburban voters, they also ginned up turnout among young and non-white voters.” 

Rubin’s analysis of what appealed to midterm voters concentrates on House red-to-blue races and ignores the many significant wins by Our Revolution candidates and the platforms they successfully campaigned on. Rubin fails to mention that Our Revolution, a two-year-old organization in 2018, did not target red-to-blue House races: they ran candidates across the board, and their “under 40 percent” primary win rate is actually phenomenal for such a new organization. 

Rubin also fails to acknowledge that in addition to winning “cobalt-blue House districts” at the federal level, Our Revolution-backed progressives won 35 state House and Senate seats, predominantly in swing and red-states. Their victories include progressive wins in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, illustrating just how far the progressive message carried in 2018. 

In fact, the overall victories for Our Revolution amounted to 118 candidates in the primaries, 82 candidates in the midterm elections, and 26 ballot measures in 2018. Failing to mention any of these wins and only emphasizing New Democrat victories in the House paints a starkly different picture of what appealed to voters across the country—even in those pesky, hard-to-win swing states where Rubin claims moderates did so well.

Americans Favor the Policies Rubin Calls “Too Radical”

Despite support for progressive policies from a wide cross-section of voters as noted above, Rubin insists that presidential campaigns have been “bamboozled by ultra-progressives goading them to take more radical positions.” 28

Rubin uses mischaracterizations like these to bring home her oft-repeated point that  moderates like Biden are the most electable, while Bernie Sanders and progressive policies like his are “too radical” for the majority of voters.29,30,31 Rubin’s sweeping generalities about Medicare For All and other proposals from Sanders often land without facts or evidence to back them up.32,33 When repeated often enough, her statements serve to solidify in the minds of her readers the idea that Sanders is a liability.34

In an article published in July 2019, Rubin claims that Biden is electable because 

…he is accessible to the broadest array of voters. Quite simply, he hasn’t followed Sanders and others over the cliff on Medicare For All, free college for everyone and the other positions that prove popular with a narrow stratum of voters but are irrelevant to or actually turn off others.35

Rubin uses declarative statements to present her opinions as if they are accepted truths, often playing fast and loose with the facts. Recent polls challenge Rubin’s assertion that only a “narrow stratum” of irrelevant voters support Medicare For All. In a Morning Consult poll from July 2019, not only did Medicare For All poll at 53 percent among all voters, it went up to 55 percent when voters were told they could keep their providers. Among Democrats, Medicare For All polled even higher at 77 and 78 percent in those two categories, respectively. Other polls in recent months consistently demonstrate support for Medicare For All from an overwhelming majority of Democrats.

In another article from March 2019, Rubin warns Democrats they might need Biden to save them from Sanders’ socialism: 

[Biden] has the stature, the money, the name ID and the popularity to seize the party by the scruff of the neck and pull it back from the brink…he must play the role of the wise patriarch, there to remind Democrats… if they pick scary socialists or rank novices incapable of governing (such as Trump!), they will never achieve aims such as checking climate change, expanding health-care coverage, reducing income inequality and keeping the United States safe and respected. 36

These sentiments may appeal to moderates who desire a return to normalcy and the stature of the Obama era. However, one is left wondering how “pragmatic” moderate Democrats—whose policies have contributed to the climate crisis, the lack of healthcare coverage, rising income inequality, and continual wars—will somehow lead the way to fixing the very problems they helped to create.

Despite Rubin’s dire warnings, when it comes to fixing systemic problems in America, voters may prefer progressive policies to centrist incrementalism. In fact, recent polls indicate that progressive policies are incredibly popular among voters—not just among Democrats, Democratic-leaning independents, and millennials, but with moderates and Republicans as well:

  • 65 percent of voters support Medicare-for-All, Real Clear Politics. May 15, 2019.
  • 80 percent support the Green New Deal, 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of GOP voters. Yale Survey, Dec. 12, 2018.
  • 84 percent of republicans and 92 percent of Democrats support ending corruption, University of Maryland Study, May 2018.
  • 57 percent of voters are for tuition free public colleges while 60 percent are for a higher minimum wage. CNBC Survey, Mar. 27, 2019.

The incremental change offered by centrist Democrats may not be ginning up as much support as Rubin thinks. According to Third Way, 60 of the New Democrats who won House races in 2018 were incumbents defending their seats, not swing-district challengers, while centrist Blue Dog Democrats shrunk to a mere 24 members following the midterms—nearly half their previous size.37,38 In a year of unprecedented wins for Democratic women across the board, two of the few incumbents to lose their reelection bids were Blue Dog Senators Claire McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp, both of whom ran center-right campaigns.

In contrast, the legislative priorities of strong progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman members of Congress not only align with Sanders’ views, but with his progressive policy agenda. Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, the Green New Deal, College for All, eliminating student debt, ending corruption, and campaign finance reform are pillars of the progressive platform: policies that progressives ran on—and won.

With Rubin’s Record of Factual Ignorance, You’ve Got to Wonder Why WaPo Still Runs Her Pieces

Jennifer Rubin has full liberty to print her conjectured opinions, but the American readership should not have to decipher truth from subjective thoughts. Her excessive number of heavy-handed opinion-pieces disguised as factual reporting reflects negatively on the Washington Post’s credibility. Printing an occasional op-ed on a candidate and their policy agenda is one thing; posting 20-plus smears on one candidate and his policies borders on journalistic malpractice. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the media remain objective and factual in their coverage. Attacks by Rubin under the banner of The Washington Post typify a continuing trend of anti-Sanders and anti-progressive media bias that does not reflect the priorities of the American people, desperate for real change.

Editors: Elizabeth Griffith, Marci Abraham, Nancy Weaver, and Alison Hartson3+

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  2. “Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours” FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 8 Mar. 2016, https://fair.org/home/washington-post-ran-16-negative-stories-on-bernie-sanders-in-16-hours/
  3. “Today’s Front Page… Bernie’s Sandy Hook Shame — Defends Gunmakers against Newtown Kin Suit.” Twitter, New York Daily News, 6 Apr. 2016, twitter.com/NYDailyNews/status/717685017418268672.
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  9. Kessler, Jim, and Lanae Erickson. “Don’t Let Progressives Fool You. Moderate Democrats Can Win.” The Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-let-progressives-fool-you-moderate-democrats-can-win/2018/11/07/37648218-e2b1-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html. 
  10. Edsall, Thomas B. “Opinion | How Far Left Is Too Far Left for 2020 Democrats?” The New York Times, 10 Apr. 2019, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/opinion/democratic-candidates-primaries.html.
  11. Scher, Bill, et al. “Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary?” POLITICO Magazine, 14 May 2019, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/14/joe-biden-2020-226872. 
  12. “Harris Challenges the Thinking on the Best Way to Challenge Trump.” West Central Tribune, 4 May 2019, http://www.wctrib.com/opinion/columns/4608378-jennifer-rubin-harris-c
  13. “Joe Biden might be the best bet for beating Trump. But he might not get that far” Washington Post, 25 Apr.2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/joe-biden-could-be-the-best-bet-to-beat-trump-if-he-gets-that-far/2019/04/25/57196880-6759-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html
  14. How Biden can show he is the best bet for beating Trump” Washington Post 6 Apr. 2019 hhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/26/biden-can-show-whys-hes-best-equipped-beat-trump/?utm_ter&utm_term=.15db2f4f3e5d
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  16. “How Biden gets his electability back” Washington Post, 10 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/10/how-biden-gets-his-electability-back/?noredirect=on&utm_terp 
  17. “Biden says he can beat Trump” Journal Now, Washington Post 27 Apr. 2019, https://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/jennifer-rubin-biden-says-he-can-beat-trump/article_a28845df-de5a-554f-b400-4d35c1afaca9.html
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  21.  “Why Clinton lost, an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry” Contexts, 16 Apr 2018, https://contexts.org/articles/why-clinton-lost/
  22.  “What the media doesn’t get about Joe Biden” SF Gate 12 Apr. 2019, https://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/What-the-media-doesn-t-get-about-Joe-Biden-13762537.ph
  23. “Here’s the thing about electability” Washington Post 5 Feb. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/05/heres-thing-about-electability/
  24.   “Bernie’s week goes from bad to worse” Washington Post 25 Apr. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/25/bernies-week-goes-bad-worse/
  25. “June National Poll: All eyes on the Democratic Debates; Biden, Sanders, Warren Separate from the Field.” Emerson Polling, 21 Jun.- 24 Jun. 2019
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  27. Kessler, Jim, and Lanae Erickson. “Don’t Let Progressives Fool You. Moderate Democrats Can Win.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Nov. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-let-progressives-fool-you-moderate-democrats-can-win/2018/11/07/37648218-e2b1-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd 53ca6b_story.html
  28. Rubin, Jennifer. “Democrats Don’t Need a Left-Wing Nominee to Turn out the Base.” The Washington Post, 10 May 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/10/media-shouldnt-parrot-lefts-debunked-talking-points.
  29. “Sanders likely can’t turn it around, but Biden can. Here’s how” Washington Post, 3 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/03/sanders-likely-cant-turn-it-around-biden-can-heres-how/?utm_te
  30.  “Don’t let Bernie duck the hard questions” Twin Cities Pioneer Press 5 Apr. 2019, https://www.twincities.com/2019/04/05/jennifer-rubin-dont-let-bernie-sanders-duck-the-hard-questions/
  31. Three rules will keep democrats from falling off a cliff” Washington Post 2 Feb. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/08/three-rules-will-keep-democrats-falling-off-cliff
  32. “They blew it: the candidates who foolishly mimic Sanders’s healthcare gambit” Washington >>Post, 10 Apr. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/10/they-blew-it-candidates-who-foolishly-mimic-sanderss-healthcare-gambit/
  33. “Warren and Delaney had a good night. CNN had a terrible one” Washington Post, 31 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/31/warren-delaney-had-good-nights-cnn-had-terrible-one/
  34. “‘Electability” and “Bernie” don’t belong in the same sentence” Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2019, Berniehttps://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/31/electability-bernie-dont-belong-same-sentence/
  35. “ How Biden gets his electability back” Washington Post, 10 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/10/how-biden-gets-his-electability-back/?noredirect=on&utm_ter
  36. “Democrats might need Biden more than they know” Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/07/democrats-might-need-biden-more-than-they-know/
  37. “New Democrat Coalition” 30 Nov. 2018, https://newdemocratcoalition.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/new-democrat-coalition-inducts-30-members-elect-and-elects-new-leadership?1
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What the Mueller Report Says about Obstruction & the Subject of Impeachment

I was going to do a brief analysis of what the Mueller report says about Obstruction, but once I began reading the details, I realized that wasn’t going to be as easy I’d hoped. But, given the significance of the story, and Mueller’s recent appearance in front of Congress, I wanted to at least do an update on the pertinent points the summary contained. I should also preface this by saying I am not a lawyer, so this is entirely a layman’s interpretation of Mueller’s report.

Most significant to me was the amount of time and effort spent explaining the reasoning behind the analysis and the findings in the report- without entirely clarifying what, if anything, had been established. Given the extensive explanation, I thought the information to be important, and most of what I focused on here. Rather than give the ample examples of Obstruction that were also included (which are telling in and of themselves), I focused on a few key aspects related to whether impeachment is warranted.

But first, we should have some context for what we are talking about. I’ve included an explanation of what Obstruction of Justice is, legally, and how it has been applied to sitting presidents in the past. I also included a brief summary of the kinds of obstruction the Mueller report mentioned that could apply in this case.

1. The legal definition for Obstruction of Justice:

“The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law especially by influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer or by furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

2. From the Mueller Report, on the issue of Obstruction by Trump:

“These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

3. How has the obstruction charge been used in the past?

There were three articles of impeachment brought against Nixon. The first article of Impeachment was for Obstruction of justice.

“Richard Nixon, using the power of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry, to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”

How do the two investigations compare?

The biggest difference between the Trump and Nixon investigations is that the underlying crime in Nixon’s case was established, while conspiracy with the Russians to rig the election was not. Still, the last sentence of Nixon’s obstruction charge says, “to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.” This could inform how the obstruction charge might be applied to Trump.

Another more minor difference between Nixon and Trump’s investigation was the way in which they both engaged in obstructing the FBI. In Nixon’s case, he and his allies attempted to delay the FBI’s investigation into Watergate. Trump instead made continual attempts to shut the entire investigation down, arguably a much more egregious offense. Though whether that is true under the law, I cannot say.

Several similarities exist between Nixon and Trump and the possible impeachment charge(s) as well. One such similarity is the charge against Nixon of withholding funds from congress for federally approved projects he didn’t agree with. This parallels Trump’s recent efforts to divert funds allocated for other purposes to pay for the border wall. Like Nixon, Trump violated congressional budget agreements that , in Trump’s case, put an end to the month and a half long government shutdown. Trump’s reallocation of funds approved for other purposes to pay for building the wall that congress had denied increased funding for, may have been an act of presidential overreach. While this isn’t an obstruction of justice charge, it is related to another article of impeachment that Nixon faced- Presidential Abuse of Power.

Another notable similarity between the two is how each of them were named in Grand Jury indictments. Nixon was named an ‘un-indicted co-conspirator’ in court documents. Similarly, Trump was named “individual number one” (the President) in Cohen’s Grand Jury indictments, an indictment which resulted in a guilty plea from Cohen. However, this is also a point of some confusion. In Mueller’s summary, it states that prosecutors were not allowed to name Trump as an un-indicted co-conspirator, even in sealed Grand Jury indictments. Yet, Nixon and Trump were both so named in their Grand Jury indictments which resulted from the Special Counsel’s investigation.

After some preliminary research, it seems this might be due to the difference between what a prosecutor can reveal and what a Grand Jury indictment can include, even in its release to the public. According to an article written by law expert Carol C. Lam, former US attorney for the Southern District of California, there is a difference between the two:

“Government prosecutors — and that includes the special counsel and his team, and anyone who works at the U.S. Department of Justice — cannot disclose to Congress or the public any transcripts or summaries of witness testimony before the grand jury. A cautious prosecutor probably also won’t publicly release documents obtained by grand jury subpoena…But the grand jury secrecy requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) do not apply to a grand jury indictment itself, which is a public document. In an indictment, the prosecutor and the grand jury are free to include information obtained in the grand jury.”

Carol C. Lam, former US attorney for the Southern District of California

Other key similarities between the Trump and Nixon investigations are related to whether or not you can indict a sitting president. Following the Grand Jury indictments of his aides, Nixon’s prosecutors informed the court they would likely be unable to indict a sitting president due to constitutional rules. This left impeachment the only option. However, when Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski turned over evidence to Congress, he offered no analysis of the material. Nor did he make recommendations on whether or not to impeach the President. Similarly, while Mueller does include analysis and a conclusion on conspiracy and obstruction, he does not make a determination on the possible Obstruction charge. His reasons were similar to that of Nixon’s Special Prosecutor, Jaworski. Due to Department of Justice rules and constitutional concerns over indicting a sitting president, Mueller and his team determined not to make a recommendation on any indictable offenses.

Obstruction of Justice & How it Applies to Trump

After a lengthy section of the report listing at least ten examples describing Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice, Mueller concluded that obstruction did apply in this case and could be used by congress as grounds for impeachment. Here are some examples of what Mueller concluded would fall under the legal definition of obstruction:

  • “The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law.”
  • “Influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer.”
  • “Furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.”

Three Key Findings on Obstruction vs. Collusion:

The biggest difference in question is what the Mueller report concluded about Collusion-and why, versus what they concluded in the case of obstruction. Here are key experts to highlight those differences:

1. “When substantial evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

2. “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released (by) the Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

3. “If (the Mueller team) found the President clearly did NOT commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to make that judgment.”

Mueller and his team used the framework of “conspiracy law”, not collusion in their investigation since collusion is not a crime under the law. But, in their detailed explanation on the obstruction of Justice charge, Mueller and his team explain that they “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” Instead, they offered an opinion finding, for the following reasons:

“The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions’ in violation of ‘the constitutional separation of powers”.

The report goes on to say that “while the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible.” The report further states:

“The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office. And if individuals other than the President committed an obstruction offense, they may be prosecuted at this time. Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.”

In other words, Mueller and his team never intended to make a judgment on any indictable crime while the president was still in office, leaving impeachment the only current option, with possible future indictments in mind once he left office. The report also mentions concerns about making a declarative statement on a possible criminal indictment without violating constitutional rights and DOJ rules.

Some ‘Difficult Issues’ to talk about

With the sheer number of examples illustrating Trump’s myriad attempts to thwart the FBI investigation, it’s unlikely that not enough evidence was established for an obstruction charge. Rather, the underlying crime Trump appeared to be obstructing an investigation of was not established. This appears to be one of the “difficult issue” referred to in Mueller’s report:

“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

-from the Mueller Report

A second “issue” surrounds Justice Department rules that prohibit prosecutors from naming un-indicted co-conspirators in an indictment. 

“The courts struck down with strong language efforts by grand juries to accuse persons of crime while affording them no forum in which to vindicate themselves”. 

This seems to further confirm how limited Mueller and his team felt they were in what their assessment could conclude, due to the rules governing the special prosecutor’s role, laid out by the Justice Department, and constitutional concerns.

“Under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited…the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing…it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge…from (these rules) we concluded that we would not reach a determination — one way or the other — about whether the President committed a crime.”

-excerpts from Mueller’s press conference statement, following the summary of the report made by Attorney General Barr-From the Mueller report

2 Key Phases to Trump’s Obstruction

The summary also identifies two phases to Trump’s obstruction efforts that indicate more “difficulties” in determining no “wrong-doing”. The first phase, before firing James Comey. The second, after his firing when Trump “became aware that his own conduct was being investigated for obstruction-of-justice inquiry”. At which point, Trump began engaging in “public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.”

Eyewitness accounts of Trump’s behavior claim that upon learning he was being investigated by the FBI, Trump purportedly slumped down in his seat and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f#!%ed,” That’s a strange response from someone with nothing to hide from the FBI. But, reactions like these are what made the conspiracy charge so plausible to investigators. There was clearly something he was trying to cover up, but what that something was remains undetermined since the ‘conspiracy’ concern was not established.

Questions were also raised about if, in fact, it’s considered obstruction if actions occur in the public view. Mueller clarifies this point succinctly:

“Many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view. That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.”

To me, it’s clear that sufficient evidence was found of Trump’s attempts to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into his ties with Russia, and possible discovery of other crimes that fell outside the scope of conspiracy to rig the election. But, Mueller and his team were limited by the scope of what they could investigate, or reveal without directly implying grounds for an indictment, based on DOJ rules. Further, that by even hinting at a possible indictment would violate the same constitutional rights of due process and Justice department rules that prevented them from indicting a sitting president, which I believe is why this passage is so murky.

I fully concede that my assessment may not be legally correct. I am also not a mind reader, so I can’t say with certainty that this was what Mueller and his team were inferring. But, given what Mueller included in his press conference statements, and reaffirmed during his congressional hearing, it seems a fair assessment of their intent.

Types of Obstruction that Apply to Trump

The summary concludes with an explanation of the two types of obstruction that would apply to obstruction if congress were to conduct an impeachment investigation and trial. The Mueller team determined that both statutory and constitutional defenses could be applied, meaning either or both were applicable to their findings on Trump’s actions to obstruct the FBI investigation, or for other impeachable offenses.

More specifically, the Mueller report states that,  “Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” and that the president cannot use his Article II powers to give himself immunity.

“The conclusion is that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no one is above the law.”

-In other words, congress, unlike special counsel, can totally impeach the president on grounds of obstruction, based on what Mueller found and documented in his summary report on Trump’s Obstruction of Justice.


The Ilhan Omar debate & why it matters

What’s really behind the continuing attacks against Ilhan Omar: Part One

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments, mainly because this is the tool used to shut down debate and silence voices of dissent. Voices like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others who have spoken out against the inhumane treatment of Palestinians suffering Apartheid-like conditions and anti-humanitarian abuses at the hands of Israel’s military, funded in large part by the U.S.

But, I also don’t want to dwell too little on their relevance because they also reveal the very real attack, launched by both parties against Ilhan Omar, and the potential reasons behind it that we shouldn’t ignore.

Given the scale and scope of issues involved, this will be the first of two articles. Part One gives an outline of the now four incidents criticizing Omar for her comments and subsequent attacks on her safety and others by the President, members of congress, and special interest groups. Part Two exposes the possible reasons for these ongoing attacks, and looks further into who’s really driving the anti-Muslim agenda in America, and why Omar has been targeted as such a threat to their interests.

Part One

“It’s all about the Benjamins” baby…and “AIPAC”

The original efforts to smear Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments as “anti-Semitic” were led by the pro-Israel lobby  and advocacy groups like A JC and AIPAC, who successfully lobby congress for billions of dollars in military funding for Israel every year, push anti-BDS legislation at the federal and state level, and work to insure the long-standing policy of unquestioned US support for Israel remains intact.

The influence special interest groups like these can wield over US policy and political support touch at the heart of issues we should be discussing, and why they’ve gone to such lengths to silence any criticism or further debate.

Without the context of her words, however, it is easy to misinterpret what Ilhan Omar meant by her two tweets that led to such a swift and singular attack against her. The tweets were reacting to a tweet Journalist Glenn Greenwald posted:

“GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel.

It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans”.

~Glenn Greenwald

Rep. Ilhan Omar responded by retweeting Greenwald with her own comment, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s.”, referring to what motivated McCarthy’s threats over her criticisms of Israel, and the influence special interest groups use to sway political support and policy decisions in the US. When asked what she meant, specifically, Omar responded simply with “AIPAC,” referring to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby that in 2018 alone was successful in lobbying senate approval for a $38 billion dollar military aid package to Israel.

Within the context of Ilhan Omar’s initial twitter exchange, there was nothing anti-Semitic in what Ilhan Omar said. She was not making a stereotype about Jewish people, but stating a fact- that money in politics has power, and her criticisms of the ‘problematic role of lobbyists in our politics’ have remained consistent, ‘whether it be (about) AIPAC, the NRA or the Fossil Fuel Industry’, as she referenced in her apology for having offended members of the Jewish community. An apology, worth noting, that was rejected by most of her accusers who continue to condemn her comments.

McCarthy’s own earlier statements highlight the hypocrisy of his finger- pointing at Omar, and indicate what may have been the real motivation behind his threats- Omar’s position on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and McCarthy’s longstanding ties and loyalty to AIPAC.

“Why am I expected to have allegiance/pledge loyalty to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee?”
-Ilhan Omar

A question Ilhan Omar posed a few weeks later while speaking at a Town Hall panel sparked even more controversy. Not about the subject matter of her comments, but of one singular question she posed. What followed was a swift condemnation, and further shouts of Antisemitism, spurred in large part by some of the media coverage which seemed to intentionally misconstrue what Ilhan Omar said.

Rather than give a direct quote or a clip of her comments, or even attempt an honest interpretation, her words and their intent were continually either taken out of context, intentionally misquoted, or completely fabricated. And once removed from their context, the question she’d asked was purposefully re-positioned to mean something entirely different.

“Let’s be clear. Omar did accuse Jews of dual loyalty, a common anti-Semitic trope, and also said the Israel lobby was too powerful. As to the second remark, it is not clear who is too powerful in Omar’s eyes. If she thinks the “Israel lobby” constitutes American Jews who act out of loyalty to a foreign country, she is simply doubling down on the anti-Semitism. If, however, she is saying that Israel, not American Jews, is too influential or powerful in American foreign policy, she’s wrong but within the bounds of civil discourse.”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“This dual loyalty charge has led to the mass murder of millions of Jews in history. I’m not sure that everyone understands how grave this issue is.”

Juan Vargas on Delaware Public Media

“Omar, who in January became one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, said Israel’s supporters push lawmakers to pledge “allegiance to a foreign country”, a remark that was viewed by lawmakers of both parties as playing into the antisemitic trope of “dual loyalty” –a myth that Jewish people are more loyal to Israel than their country of residence.”

Lauren Gambino, The Guardian,

Ilhan Omar’s actual comment did not refer to Jewish people, American Jews, Israel, or dual loyalty by anyone, nor was it her intent to imply an anti-Semitic trope about dual loyalty. Her comments were in response to the pressure placed on her, the expectation that she have loyalty to Israel as a member of the foreign affairs committee and as a sitting member of congress. This expectation was made explicitly clear to her by fellow committee members and other members of congress. This includes McCarthy, whose earlier threats to retaliate against her for criticizing Israel’s actions against Palestinians, led to her AIPAC tweets and the subsequent condemnation y other members of congress and fellow committee members.

The threats of retaliation against Omar for not heeding the warnings over her criticism of the Israeli government are reflected in the statement made by Eliot Engel, the chair of the foreign affairs committee, following her second comment.

“I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. We all take the same oath. Worse, Representative Omar’s comments leveled that charge by invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur. This episode is especially disappointing following so closely on another instance of Ms. Omar seeming to invoke an anti-Semitic stereotype. Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives.”

Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

It’s hard to appreciate how idiotic and untrue the characterizations of Omar and her statements are without first understanding the full context of what Ilhan Omar said. Here’s a quote of her actual words while discussing the influence of money in politics and silencing debate by a foreign government over their humanitarian abuses, funded by the US.

“ It is almost as if every single time we (Ilhan Omar & Rashida Tlaib) say something, regardless of what it is we say, that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement, or advocacy,...about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity...we get to be labeled as something that ends the discussion because we end up defending that...and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. " (...Cheers & Applause)

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. "

I want to ask why it is OK for me to talk about the influence of NAFTA or Fossil Fuel Industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?”
-Ilhan Omar
The allegiance she is referring to is her own, as she made clear in a later tweet, clarifying her words and their meaning.
“Why am I expected to have allegiance/pledge loyalty to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee?”
-Ilhan Omar

Instead of a legitimate debate about an important issue, Omar faced swift condemnation. A continuing escalation of anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks were hurled at her, insisting that what was said was yet another example of her anti-Semitic hatred. This led to an attempt at censure and reprimand in front of congress, and potential removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee, led by leaders of her own party. 

The swift call to judgement by Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders in Congress who pushed for an immediate Resolution to reprimand Ilhan Omar over her remarks, also put a spotlight on Omar that has threatened her safety.

As reports of a hit-list and assassination threats grew, so did the glaring double-standard in the way we respond to an unintentional misstep by a Muslim woman of color versus the repeated anti-Semitic and bigoted remarks made by other white, mostly republican males in congress that have, for the most part , gone completed ignored. It also ignores the undertones, and at times very blatant anti-Muslim sentiment aimed at Omar over her comments.

The awful irony of the anti-Muslim poster surfacing, first displayed at a Republican booth in the lobby of the West Virginia State House on GOP Day, and later circulating across the internet, for example. The poster depicted Ilhan Omar in front of the Twin Towers engulfed in flames with a caption that read: “Never forget’-you said” and another below next to Omar, “I am the proof- you have forgotten”.

The silence, or lackluster responses from Nancy Pelosi and other democratic leadership is all the more baffling and horrific in light of their recent assault against Omar for far less egregious offenses.

But more troubling is what happened as a result. The Islamophobic mania stroked by repeated references to Omar and 9/11 terrorists by Trump and others that went without comment, for the most part, culminated amidst the newest attack against her for yet another comment taken out of context. This time, for allegedly dismissing the seriousness of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“Here’s the truth. For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant. You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have.”
-Ilhan Omar, speaking at a CAIR event in March, 2019

Her comment was made during an event for CAIR, the Counsel on American-Islamic Relations. She was referencing why CAIR had been established and the high price that actions by a few radical extremists can have in fomenting hate and intolerance. An intolerance that Muslims in America are acutely aware of and that infringes on their rights as American citizens.

This one comment, again taken out of context, and the reaction to it clearly reflects the exact anti-Muslim sentiment Omar was pointing out. But, it wasn’t until after the NY Post front page story using the same image of the twin towers engulfed in flames that was used in the anti-Muslim poster of Omar and 9/11, that there was even a modicum of recrimination, the only ‘action’ taken by democratic leaders at the time.

However, their comments didn’t come to the defense of Omar, or mention the ongoing assault against Omar by the president and others that has continued to escalate since democrats first jumped on the bandwagon to accuse and reprimand Omar for perceived anti-Semitic tropes. Instead, Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders waited until enough negative attention forced a response, largely due to the the quick and unequivocal defense of Omar by other progressive democrats and presidential candidates following Trump’s targeting of Omar

In his twitter post equating Omar with 9/11 terrorists, Trump also made reference to the anti-Muslim poster of the twin towers and Omar. His comments and the video montage of Omar’s ‘some people did something’ comment juxtaposed to the horrific events of 9/11 have further jeopardized her safety. An increased level of threats have been aimed at her and other Muslims as a result, including Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

In Nancy Pelosi’s initial comment, however, she chose only to criticize Trump, not for his ongoing anti-Muslim remarks aimed at Omar, but for using images of 9/11 for a “political attack”, while also validating the accusations against Omar in response to her comment.

The threats against Omar’s life and other congress members have continued to escalate. Recent violent death threats aimed at Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the other ‘first’ Muslim woman in congress, have since caused Pelosi to up the security level for Omar. However, this has only further escalated the president’s attacks against her.

So, why the leap to judgement and strict condemnation of Ilhan Omar, but such a reluctant response to the anti-Muslim bigotry by the President of the United States and other republicans, some of which at least borders on incitement of racially and religiously motivated hatred and violence?

Much of this can be traced back to that initial attack, led by the pro-Israel lobby, on behest of Netanyahu’s right-wing government, and the anti-Muslim and anti-BDS political operatives acting on their behalf.

For a deeper look into these influencers and why they may be targeting Omar, please stay tuned for Part Two of, “The Ilhan Omar Debate & Why it Matters: What’s Really Behind the Continuing Attacks Against Ilhan Omar?”


From Pitchfork Economics: How We Reclaim the Center by Moving Hard Left

This is an Opinion Piece.

I have had many debates (on Facebook) about the ideological center where the majority of people sit, we’re told, and where their policy views lie. But the ideology behind that center- the centrist democrat point of view, has been so off the mark, to my thinking, that I simply stopped calling it the ‘middle’ or center view of anything, and instead started calling it the majority view, especially when discussing progressive politics.

What has bothered me most in the past when debating the issue, is that we’ve been looking at the whole thing backward. We’ve been told that centrism is the moderate view held by the majority of people.

But it is really the other way around- it is the majority view that is at the center of America, and therefore the centrist view, and actually has nothing at all to do with the ideology of a ‘moderate’ centrist at all.

Or, at least, it shouldn’t. In our backwardness we have applied a “moderate” ideology to it because what we’ve identified as centrist has been wildly off-center.

Luckily, we have a different lens to look at this through, thanks to venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Nick Hanauer. He discusses the topic of centrism in his latest podcast, Pitchfork Economics: Should democrats appeal to the center by moving hard left? This is a follow-up to a story he wrote last August for Politico Magazine .

What Hanauer says in both his podcast and the article is that to gauge where the ideological center lies, we need to gauge where the majority of people are benefited and generally support an issue.

From this perspective, the ‘majoritarian’ center, as Hanauer calls it, (or the majority view-as I call it), is indeed the center view of the country. But the pragmatic centrism of the establishment-the centrist democrat view of the economic majority, is actually extremely, radically far right.

To understand this better, we have to determine what it is that we are weighing. The ‘majoritarian center’ accounts for what benefits the majority of people. That’s where the center of the country is. That’s also where the majority of support falls.This is NOT the economic center, however. Nor is it an ideological center. Yet, centrist democrats love to tell us their views are where most Americans fall in the center, however much to the contrary that is proven by what most people do or don’t support in poll after pool. Or how much evidence there is of who would benefit the most from a particular policy. In fact, that centrist democrat view is so skewed it seems almost the opposite of what the majority of Americans actually think, believe or support, let alone what they benefit from.

Nick Hanauer effectively illustrates this…with a yard stick!

First he asks us to imagine a 36-inch-long ruler where all of the people in the country are equally positioned along, with the person at the bottom of the economic ladder standing all the way to the left at zero and the wealthiest person standing all the way to the right at 36 inches. If everyone is equally aligned across the spectrum, and it does not correlate with its weight, then the center would be at 18 inches, in the middle. That is where presumably the majority of people fall.

Only, economically speaking, they don’t. 

Now, imagine the same ruler, but rather than measuring people we’re measuring personal wealth. The center would be where half of the personal wealth in the country is held, between zero and thirty-six inches.

Fifty percent of the wealth in America, however, isn’t held at the 18-inch, half-way mark. Fifty percent of America’s wealth is owned by the top 2 percent, which would put the center of the economic majority just before the last thirty-six-inch mark at the farthest right of the yard stick. Not only an apt depiction of income inequality, this also reflects how far off center we have become with where, or what we’ve been calling the centrist (majority) view. That view, which actually represents just the top 2% of the wealthy few, and their economic interests and agenda, is what we’ve been calling the ideological center of the American people!


If the majority view is the center and therefor the centrist view, then progressive policies that have majority support and benefit the majority of the people are actually the center, or ‘centrist’ position, and not the radical, extreme, or very far left minority we’ve been told they are, according to Hanauer. This is why progressive issues that effect and benefit the majority of people tend to have bipartisan support, on both-or all sides of the political spectrum.

In fact, the more progressive an idea, the more centrist it usually is! For example, the minimum wage, which Hanauer highlights in both his article and podcast.

Raising the minimum wage

Only a small portion of the country attempts to live on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, approximately 1.3 percent of workers. So, raising the minimum wage to $9 or $10 an hour, as Obama proposed, would only marginally benefit a small minority of people in the country. But, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour builds interest and momentum-and popular support because it would impact a larger portion of Americans-29.2 percent. If we raise the minimum wage even higher to $20 an hour, which is considered the far-left radical ‘progressive’ position, it would benefit the largest number of Americans by far. Currently, 50 percent of American workers make $18 or less per hour. So, a $20 an hr. minimum wage would both directly and indirectly benefit them, thereby representing the interests of the majority of workers at the median or center of the country.

The New Centrism and the rebirth of the American Dream

This ‘new centrism’ should come as no shock to most Americans. It was, after all, the prevailing New Deal liberal perspective following WWII.That New Deal ideology led to three decades of economic prosperity, the rise of the industrial revolution, and the expanding middle class that sparked the American Dream, as Hanauer points out in his Politico article. But we’ve gotten so far off message that we have forgotten what the American Dream was really all about, and what it represented to most Americans at the time.

In the town hall that Bernie Sanders recently held on Fox News, these perspectives are illustrated perfectly. During one of the several occasions that FOX News hosts point out Bernie’s new ‘millionaire’ status, they ask him if making a fortune wasn’t the American Dream? To which Sanders replied frankly, “no.”

And he was right.

Living the American Dream meant that a working-class family with one income could afford a nice house, buy a car, and send their kids to college. It meant having the economic stability to be able to give your children a better life.  It was not about getting rich or collecting excessive wealth and status at the expense of everyone else.

The modest, center view of the American Dream focused on the quality of life, not the quantity of your bank account.

For most working and middle-class people, the American Dream was to live a good, decent life where your kids had more opportunities than you did to truly partake in upward mobility, embrace the ideas of entrepreneurship and innovation, and move our country to the forefront of the global economy. For three decades, that’s just what we did, and we’ve been knocking down the gains from that 30 years of prosperity ever since. (Hanauer discusses this at length in his article.)

The New Deal idealism that sparked the American Dream, also sparked ideas like free public colleges and having healthcare as a human right. Which brings me to the next apt illustration from the town hall on Fox News, in front of the FOX News conservative, republican, far right viewing audience.

The majority of their audience, however, when asked if they would support a government-run single-payer healthcare system like Bernie Sander’s Medicare-for-All plan, burst out in vocal support and raised their hands and cheered…not quite the reaction that FOX News hosts were expecting, even with a contingency of Bernie supporters in the house.

That’s because most voters understand that Medicare-for-all gives healthcare to everyone as a human right, which affects and benefits the majority of Americans who are currently uninsured or under-insured. That’s also why most people support Medicare-for-all, whether they call themselves conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, or anything in between, or farther to the right or left.

Yet, we continue to confuse the center majority with the “ideological center balancing the interests of the top 2% against everyone else ‘, as Hanauer points out. This has led to the belief that incrementalism, bipartisanship, or the moderate center was and still is the centrist (majority), and that progressive issues like Medicare-for-all are far left, extreme, radical positions that most Americans don’t supports. The fact that progressive issues and center-majority issues are one in the same fails to resonate with centrist democrats, however.

The reality is that the Neoliberal centrist democrat isn’t the majority. They never have been, and their ideas are increasingly at odds with the real center where our collective majority interests lie.

Neoliberal centrism is also what helped created the Overton window where the center keeps moving further to the right. It’s what allowed decades of incrementalism, created such income and wealth inequality, and kept the political agenda in Washington virtually unaffected and un-swayed by the needs and wants of most people, and the policies that affect and benefit the majority of Americans.

Reclaiming the Narrative!

Which is why we need to reclaim the narrative about what truly is centrist and what truly is radical or extreme. Economically speaking, we need to shift our thinking of the center, not as the economic center, which paints 2% of the American population holding 50% of the wealth as the majority view, but instead what represents the economic policies that benefit-and are supported by the majority of the people. Form that perspective, we can reclaim the term-and the meaning of centrism, and the center/majority, and re-frame the progressive agenda as the truly centrist agenda that it is.

But first, we also need to divorce ourselves from the idea that ‘moderate’ is the same as centrist, or stop confusing the idea that the center view is a moderate view. We’re not gauging ideology-we’re gauging what benefits and is supported by the majority. So, incrementalism, Neoliberalism, or moderate views are not, in most cases, centrist views. Most of the time, pragmatic, incremental, Neoliberal centrist democrat positions are, again, radically far right because they represent a very small minority of people far to the right-of-center. (Just remember our yard stick!)

If we reclaim centrism as the progressive majority at the center of the country, then:

“What would a truly centrist democratic agenda look like?”

` Nick Hanauer

That is the question Hanauer poses in his latest podcast. Of course, he paints this argument from his position as a democrat, rather than as a progressive. While I don’t agree with everything Hanauer says about the democratic establishment, it makes sense to frame the narrative this way if that is the audience you are trying to reach. However, I still think he gives the democrats-especially centrist democrats, way too much credit.

For example, he talks about the far right economic ideology that centrist democrats have “internalized”, and what they mean by “pragmatic centrism” as,

“An economic policy agenda that necessarily balances the interests of business (the few) versus the interests of labor (the many) in an attempt to best serve the interests of all.” – Nick Hanauer, Politico Magazine

I don’t know that centrist democrats are concerned with ‘serving the interests of all’. They seem content to serve their own interests and call it the center majority interests, even when it is clearly not popular opinion. Even when it causes a decades-long stream of unprecedented democratic losses. Even when they simultaneously recognize how hard it is to get elected now without at least calling yourself a progressive! Yet, they still position progressive policies as the fringe minority, ‘unrealistic’ view, not supported by most voters. Or way too radical to ever win the bipartisan support needed to pass a policy measure through congress.

However, we know the real obstacle to passing progressive (centrist) legislation like Medicare-for-all, $15 minimum wage, or the host of other popular progressive policies that have been introduced. It’s their lack of political will. A lack that exists because the interests the democratic establishment serve are not the majority interests of the country, but the economic interests of the elite at the top of the wage and income gap, the ones funding their campaigns, influencing the party, and providing the revolving door through congress to lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Having said all that, Hanauer’s question is a good one, so let’s get back to the answer. The list of what a centrist democratic agenda might include could surprise you, but never the less, this is what Hanauer included (with a few additions of my own at the end). In the context of a ‘majoritarian centrism’, here is what a truly centrist democratic agenda could look like

The Centrist Democratic Agenda

  • ‘$15 minimum wage’
  • ‘Crucial infrastructure investments’
  • ‘Modern labor laws”
  • ‘Restored overtime threshold’
  • ‘Substantially higher wages on wealthy corporations and individuals’
  • Tuition-free public colleges and universities
  • Medicare-for-all
  • Green New Deal goals and projects

In other words, the progressive agenda is the most centrist political and economic ideology, held by the majority of people in America.

Tisha c.p.