You Don’t Change the Party, the Party Changes You: AOC’s Iron Dome Vote Proves This Point

by Keaton Weiss

Whether to DemExit or to primary centrist Democrats and elect progressives within the party has been a contentious debate in Left circles since the 2016 election. Those in the latter camp argue that the party can be reformed from within if enough insurgent candidates can successfully defeat incumbent moderates. A common retort among the former is some version of the phrase, “You don’t change the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party changes you.”

Those words loom large this week, as on Thursday evening, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez switched her vote on the funding of Israel’s “Iron Dome” from ‘no’ to ‘present’ just moments before the tally was finalized. Fellow Squad members Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Cori Bush, were among only 9 representatives who voted against the $1 billion investment in Israeli’s military defense.

Among the possible explanations for AOC’s last minute change of heart is that she is considering mounting a primary challenge against Chuck Schumer for his Senate seat in 2022, and that were she to be perceived as anti-Israel, it would sink her chances. There’s also some speculation that her district will be redrawn to include Riverdale, a section of the Bronx with a sizable Jewish population.

Whether these political conundrums occurred to her just in time to change her vote, and whether or not they factored into her decision, are unknowable unless she herself offers her own explanation (she was also spotted exchanging words with Nancy Pelosi shortly before the vote). In any case, it’s fairly obvious that she wanted to vote ‘no,’ but ultimately lacked the conviction to do so, and that this was a purely political decision and not a moral one.

Of course, the #FraudSquad contingent of the online Left will have a field day with this, as they’ll point to yet another instance of AOC waffling on issues of importance to her progressive base (another recent example was her ‘present’ vote on $2 billion of Capitol Police funding).

And while it’s easy to sympathize with their disgust, we should also see this as a profoundly sad story. Reportedly, AOC had to be consoled by her colleagues on the House floor, as she seemed to have broken down in tears in the moments before and after the vote.

Perhaps she cried because she finally realized that the pressures of Washington had actually changed her. Once a renegade firebrand set to spearhead the progressive takeover of the Democratic Party, she now found herself having to break from her fellow Squad members and betray her values for purposes of protecting her own power. At just 31 years old, less than a year into her sophomore term, she had already compromised her principles in such an obvious way on an issue of particular importance, not only to her, but to her closest allies in Congress as well. Rashida Tlaib, the United States’ first Palestinian Congressperson and friend of AOC, gave a powerful floor speech against the funding bill, denouncing the Israeli government as an “apartheid regime.”

Parting with her most trusted and esteemed colleagues, especially on a matter as personal to them as this one, could not have been easy for her, which much better explains her emotional reaction than that her tears were somehow fake, as has been alleged by some in both Right and Left wing media circles.

Let’s not forget that in the wake of the 2020 election, when progressives were being blamed for Democrats’ House losses, AOC gave an interview to The New York Times in which she openly floated the possibility of quitting politics altogether. She lamented that Washington was “extremely hostile to anything that even smells progressive,” and said that “the odds of me running for higher office and the odds of me just going off trying to start a homestead somewhere — they’re probably the same.”

This is one of many examples when AOC has spoken publicly about the challenges of overcoming institutional and political pressures as a progressive Congresswoman.

We should also recall her statement in the aftermath of her 2018 victory in which she expressed a willingness to buck the system to the point where it might cost her her seat. In a video for Justice Democrats released in January of 2019, she proclaimed, “If you’re a one-term Congress member, so what? You can make 10 years’ worth of change in one term if you’re not afraid.”

Unfortunately, it seems now that she is afraid – afraid of party leadership, afraid of her own electorate, and afraid of what the future has in store for her as a politician.

And so rather than bludgeon her with #FraudSquad hashtags and accusations that she’s “sold out” her base, I think we ought to encourage her to ask herself that very same question: if you’re a one-term Congress member, so what?

Is she cut out for this, or would she be of greater service in some other capacity (we know from her previous quotes that she’s asked herself this same question from time to time)? She’s a giant star at this point who undoubtedly has a plethora of options in terms of how she can best influence the world she hopes to change. Is Congress the best place for her to do that, or is it not? She needs to revisit this question. Because right now, it seems she’s on the all-too-familiar path of young starry-eyed idealists who think they can change the system, only to find years later that the system has changed them.

At this rate, it won’t be too long before she sounds just like Nancy Pelosi did in her September 2019 interview, where she said, regarding progressives’ push for Medicare For All, “All of these issues – single payer and all that – I have those signs in my basement from 30 years ago.”

Will AOC be singing that same tune sooner than later? It sure looks that way. But as a young woman with a massive following and bona fide celebrity status, there’s no need for her to resign herself to such a depressing fate. Perhaps she should quit, as she suggested she might last year, and try to affect change from outside the system.

At the very least, she needs to rediscover her cavalier spirit as an activist who’s not afraid to lose an election or upset party brass. Because by casting such a blatantly hypocritical vote as this one, she’s betrayed the very coalition that propelled her to power in the first place – something for which she instantly felt remorse the moment she did it. She doesn’t have to do this anymore; the decision is hers to make.

We discuss this further in the video below. Click the player to watch, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos:

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Liza Featherstone Torches the Dismal Post-Presidency of Barack Obama

Liza Featherstone recently wrote an article for Jacobin entitled “Barack Obama Has Been One of the Worst Ex-Presidents Ever.” In it, she argues that Obama’s post-presidency has been “strikingly bereft of public-spiritedness,” the most recent example of which was his opulent 60th birthday bash at his Martha’s Vineyard mansion amidst surging Covid numbers.

She also points out that Obama, in the early days of the Trump presidency, was largely absent from public life. He was photographed on Richard Branson’s private island shortly after Trump’s inauguration – a time when his liberal base was wrought with fear about the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Rather than stay engaged and reassure his supporters that he would join them in their “resistance efforts,” he took off to the British Virgin Islands, where, according to Branson’s autobiography published months later, Michelle Obama actually exclaimed “We’re free!” Ironic that the former First Lady would feel this way just when a supposed fascist dictator just became her husband’s successor as the most powerful person on the planet.

Featherstone also cites that Obama’s two most notable interventions in politics, both of which took place over the phone, have been to protect the status quo.

First he intervened in the 2020 Democratic Primary in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, when Bernie Sanders was poised to effectively clinch the nomination. Obama convinced Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to suspend their campaigns and endorse Joe Biden, which they did, and this last-minute Hail Mary to stop Sanders proved successful.

Then, later that year, as protests erupted nationwide in response to the murder of George Floyd, NBA players, in a show of solidarity, walked off the court and went on strike. Obama convinced them to get back to work and continue the season.

Liza compares Obama’s vacuous ex-presidency to those of his predecessors, who, awful as they were, at least made attempts at public acknowledgment of their continued responsibilities as public citizens. Obama, on the other hand, has rarely flexed his moral authority as an ex-president, and when he has, it has been against the interests of ordinary people. She concludes, “Obama has not only largely opted out of using his high profile to serve the public interest, but he’s also chosen insultingly to flout it. It’s long past time to end the cult of hero worship around this narcissistic plutocrat.”

Liza Featherstone joined us to discuss Obama’s post-presidency and other topics on episode 121 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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AOC Was Elected To Call Out Elites in Their Own House – So What’s The Problem?

by Keaton Weiss

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stole the show at Monday night’s Met Gala when she appeared in a white dress with bright red lettering that read “Tax the Rich.” Immediately, “Tax the Rich” was trending on Twitter (at this writing, it still is), as well as – of course – AOC herself.

The backlash from the Right was predictable. They honed in on the irony of wearing a “Tax the Rich” dress to a gala which is itself an embarrassment of riches, as if said irony was lost on AOC herself – as if that obvious contradiction wasn’t in fact the very inspiration for her outfit in the first place.

But many in online Left circles were also quick to criticize her for her attendance at the gala, and dismissed her wardrobe design as “performative.”

Though AOC has deserved criticism at various points throughout her brief career (most recently, not leveraging her vote for Pelosi as Speaker, and benignly agreeing to support the American Rescue Plan even after eight Senate Democrats shot down Bernie Sanders’ minimum wage provision), the Left’s objection to her attendance at the Met is misguided.

For starters, I think we can all agree the point of electing AOC in 2018 – an effort borne of Bernie’s historic presidential run two years prior – was to send one of our own to Congress.

The 2016 Sanders campaign fell short of its ultimate goal, but was nonetheless hugely successful in helping to destigmatize Leftist political ideology. Suddenly, large swaths of the population were no longer afraid or ashamed to call themselves socialists. This was itself a major victory which made AOC’s candidacy possible.

Then, upon her unlikely triumph over Joe Crowley, we were poised to permeate the mainstream in a way we hadn’t been able to do before. We had sent a democratic socialist to Washington who was bound to become a bona fide star – yes, a “celebrity,” if you will – and we would finally have someone representing our interests not only in the halls of Congress, but on television shows, social media, and, indeed, the occasional red carpet at extravagant soirees like the Met Gala.

In this sense, AOC’s celebrity status as the most famous member of Congress is itself a boon to Left politics, because it creates an opportunity for Leftists to puncture elite bubbles that were long considered impenetrable by ordinary people.

The fact that Leftist politicians are now on invite lists to events like the Met Gala ought to be seen as a good sign – a sign that the Left is gaining influence among elite cultural circles from which we’ve always been deliberately excluded. Those who lament AOC’s legitimization of elite institutions like the Met Gala should have probably thought twice about electing her to Congress, because guess what: Congress is itself an elite institution.

The entire point of electing progressives to Congress is so that ordinary people can finally have representation in echelons of society formerly reserved for elites. This is the premise of representative democracy – that regular folks can have a seat at the fat cats’ table if they garner enough popular support.

To say that her attendance at the gala wasn’t “revolutionary” is fair enough, but it also misunderstands her role in the progressive movement. Elected officials, almost by definition, are not revolutionary figures. Notice, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X never ran for political office. AOC, on the other hand, is not a revolutionary, she’s a representative. As such, her job is to “represent” working class people in places where working class people rarely gain access.

In other words, the main point of electing Left politicians is to infiltrate elite circles with people we feel will use their esteemed position to do our bidding. In the context of the Met Gala, this is precisely what AOC did. She accepted the invitation, and then used her participation to “break the fourth wall,” as she puts it, and to “have a conversation” about the very nature of the event she’s attending.

To begrudge her appearance at the gala is to take the position that she ought not take advantage of this access to the elites which we granted her in the first place by sending her to Congress.

If that’s our attitude, then why did we bother voting her in? Why bother with electoral politics at all? Why not just be activists? There are many on the Left who feel that electoral politics is a waste of time and energy. This is a legitimate position. What’s not a legitimate position is to espouse the importance of electing Leftists to Congress, and then lambast them when they participate in the very bourgeois pageantry that defines much of what being a Congressperson definitionally entails.

After all, a gathering of elites in an opulent building with too many stairs describes both the Met Gala and a House committee hearing. Why is it acceptable for AOC to attend one but not the other?

To the extent that AOC has failed to live up to her obligations to represent the working class, she has attracted some much deserved blowback from her base. If she and her fellow squad members cave on the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package currently being negotiated (so far, there’s no indication that they will), progressives will be rightfully furious. But trolling the 1% at their own party, calling out the elites in their own house, is a big part of what she was elected to do, and not a bad use of time on what would otherwise be an unremarkable Monday evening in New York.

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Lara Hodge is Running for Congress in a Deep Red District, as a Progressive, and a Republican

In December of 2020, we published an article entitled “Why Progressives Joining the Republican Party Isn’t as Crazy as You Think.” In it, Russell Dobular argued that because of the shifting class dynamics within the Democratic and Republican electorates (Republicans have become more working class, Democrats more upper-middle class), populist Left economic policies could catch on in Republican circles more so than in Democratic ones. Additionally, in deep red states and/or districts where Democrats have virtually no chance of beating Republicans, it makes more sense for progressives to primary Republican incumbents than to try and oust them as Democrats.

Lara Hodge, friend and frequent listener of our podcast and reader of our blog, took this advice to heart, and is running for Congress as a progressive, and as a Republican. She submitted her bio below:

Lara is running for the U.S. House of Representatives for Arizona’s 5th district, in 2022. She is a Navy veteran and has lived all over the United States. She chose to settle her family in Arizona in 2019. She is not a career politician. She is an average citizen who is tired of waiting for the “adults in the room” to stand up in Congress. She has watched shifting political coalitions over the decades and realized that the people at the top are playing a game with the lives of the rest of us.

The turmoil of 2020 convinced her that our elected officials are looking out for property and capital, not the people. She also recognized that the Democratic Party isn’t the weak, ineffective party she had always thought them to be. She realized they are complicit. They have the same debts to their corporate donors as the Republican Party. But at least the Republicans are honest about it. So, Lara left the Democratic Party and filed to run for Arizona State Senate. And then in early 2021 she found out that her Congressman, Andy Biggs, was directly involved in the January 6th insurrection. She changed her candidate filing and is now running against Biggs for his Congressional seat.

Lara is a progressive, but not a liberal. She believes that all Americans should have ready access to food, housing, healthcare, education, and safety. She is for small government involvement when it comes to our personal lives, and big government spending when it comes to investment in human services and infrastructure. Most importantly, she believes in actual accountability for our elected representatives.

You can find more about her views on her website at proudprogressivepatriot.com. She also has a podcast/YouTube channel called Splash of Socialism. Lara is not a socialist in the classical sense. She realizes that socialism, just like communism and capitalism, as a strict, sole economic policy will never work, because people are people. Where there are people, there is greed and corruption. We need a blended economic system, a Splash of Socialism, if you will, to make sure that our human rights are being met. Rising to our full potential is difficult enough, even when all of our basic needs are being met.

Lara joined the podcast to discuss her candidacy as well as her stances on various issues affecting her district and the country as a whole. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Liberals Chose to Forfeit the Working Class in 2016, Yet Still Blame The Left for Their Loss

The Supreme Court recently voted 5-4 not to intervene and block the implementation of Texas’ anti-abortion law SB8, which bans all abortions past six weeks and offers monetary incentives for citizens who report anyone “aiding and abetting” an abortion.

Predictably, liberals took to Twitter and expressed their frustration at anyone whose support they feel Hillary Clinton was entitled to in 2016, and once again blamed Jill Stein voters and ‘Bernie or Busters’ for the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

The only thing more tiresome than listening to these complaints is responding to them, but it is worth reminding everyone that the Democrats ran exactly the campaign they wanted to in 2016. They knowingly and willingly shunned the working class, and instead attempted to woo moderate Republican suburbanites into Hillary’s camp. This strategy was articulated out loud and on camera by Chuck Schumer, who proclaimed with great confidence that “for every blue collar Democrat we will lose in Western PA, we will pick up two, three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

What this means is that the Democrats consciously chose to give up on blue collar voters, because they thought they could replace them with upper-middle class suburban whites (President Obama spending his final weeks in office pushing the TPP is a perfect encapsulation of their plan in action). Swapping out the working class for their professional managerial class counterparts was of course particularly tempting for centrist Democrats, because the latter group’s policy priorities are much more compatible with the party’s elite donor base.

And so, the Democratic Party deliberately alienated the Left in 2016. They never liked them much to begin with, and they saw that election as a golden opportunity to replace them with moderate Republicans, a more natural constituency for their neoliberal agenda. It was their calculation, their gamble, and ultimately, their mistake.

That high profile liberals pile on the Left every time a SCOTUS decision goes against them only exposes the contradiction within the Democratic Party that makes true “party unity” impossible. Centrist liberals want to welcome these moderate conservatives into their coalition, but still feel entitled to the votes of Leftists and working class voters who aren’t interested in sharing a political party with comfy suburbanites who are indifferent to their plight.

This is a circle that can’t be squared, which is part of why Democrats have trouble winning elections in the first place, and also why the party proves itself so impotent in its efforts to combat the Right. The only answer to laws like SB 8 is a united Left in which all of its siloed factions (reproductive rights advocates, climate advocates, labor advocates, etc) agree upon one platform that satisfies the needs and demands of everyone involved.

Without a mass movement based on true solidarity and empathy, the Right will win every time. Relitigating 2016 won’t change this basic truth.

We discuss the Texas anti-abortion law, the liberals’ blame game, and what’s needed for a viable Left response, in episode 119 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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The Taliban Was Always Going to Take Afghanistan, But Biden’s Withdrawal Was Still a Disaster

In the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent usurpation of the Afghan government by the Taliban, there seem to be two competing widespread opinions. Predictably, the corporate media, essentially an arm of the military industrial complex itself, has been nearly unanimous in its messaging that the turmoil in Afghanistan is a cautionary tale for why America must remain the World Police, and that the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw was a disastrous one.

Ironically, many on the Left are finally praising President Biden for sticking to his guns and defending his decision to pull out of Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation. Kyle Kulinski went as far as to (half seriously) brand himself a “Biden bro,” lauding the withdrawal of troops as “the best thing he ever did.”

What most in both the mainstream and independent media are missing here is that the decision to withdraw, and the manner in which the US went about its execution, are two different issues. Many would scoff at this, as Kyle himself has, and point out that no matter how long we remained in Afghanistan, this outcome was inevitable, and therefore it’s petty to critique the way in which the withdrawal was carried out.

Is he correct? Yes and no. But mostly, no.

He, as is almost everyone on the Left, is undoubtedly correct that the political outcome itself – i.e, the Taliban reclaiming Afghanistan – was a foregone conclusion no matter how the withdrawal was executed. But what wasn’t inevitable was the extraordinary level of chaos that ensued during this “transfer of power.”

Just six weeks ago, Biden expressed confidence that the Afghan army was ready to defend its country, insisting that a Taliban takeover was “not inevitable” (a prediction which directly contradicts his latest statements in which he emphasizes that it was). Had he and his administration been better prepared for this outcome that they now claim was inevitable from the beginning, surely a safer, more orderly evacuation of personnel and equipment would have been prioritized in anticipation for what was certain to unfold.

Instead, we saw horrific images of Afghans clinging to the sides of airplanes and then falling out of the sky from 2,000 feet in the air. We saw traffic jams of desperate people trying to flee at the last minute as the Taliban took over. And now, the Taliban has control over stockpiles of military equipment that we left behind.

So the questions of whether or not we were right to get out, and how do we go about doing so as safely and responsibly as possible, are obviously two different questions, and the latter is just as important as the former. Many have said that to obsess over the execution of the plan without acknowledging the overall merit of the decision to withdraw is to somehow nitpick and split hairs. This is absurd.

When the Seattle Mariners built their beautiful new Stadium, Safeco Field, they decided to demolish the Kingdome, its unsightly and retrograde predecessor; a decision almost everyone agreed was the right one. But if the demolition took place during a game, with 30,000 people inside, then of course it would be apropos to emphasize the extraordinary recklessness and incompetence with which the decision was carried out.

This is common sense. The way in which Biden’s administration went about this withdrawal was obviously a complete disaster that could have and should have been mitigated by ample preparation, if it could not have been avoided entirely. Acknowledging this in no way suggests that the decision to withdraw is itself a bad one.

We discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal and more on episode 118 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Nina Turner Lost Because Democratic Primary Voters Almost Never Get Anything Right

Nina Turner entered her primary for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District with massive advantages in name recognition, fundraising, and polling. In fact, as recently as June 1, her lead seemed insurmountable; she was polling at 50% to Shontel Brown’s 15. When Hillary Clinton endorsed Brown a couple of weeks later, progressives mostly laughed it off, seeing as Turner seemed like a lock to win anyway.

But Clinton’s intervention was the beginning of an all-out blitz by the Democratic establishment to destroy Turner’s campaign and install their preferred moderate candidate. James Clyburn, as well as other senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, would endorse and campaign for Brown. Centrist-aligned Super PACs flooded the airwaves with attack ads against Turner which ranged from inane to downright dishonest. In the end, they were successful; Brown defeated Turner on Tuesday night by a comfortable margin.

Since Turner’s loss, several articles have been published explaining why she fell and what it means moving forward. Normon Solomon’s piece entitled “Nina Turner’s Loss is Oligarchy’s Gain” points out that Ohio has open primaries and that high profile Republicans like Bill Kristol openly encouraged members of his party to vote for Brown. Alexander Sammon wrote in The American Prospect that Brown’s victory is “a blueprint for super PAC takeovers of elections and campaigns going forward,” citing the Brown campaign’s shady relationship with such PACS as well as the impact of their attack ads down the home stretch of the primary contest.

But it was David Sirota who got it the most right, tweeting out the following:

Indeed, “more Dem voters want a corporate government than something else.” This is self evident to a large degree, seeing how these primaries continue to materialize. And even to the extent that Democratic voters don’t really want a corporate government, but are rather duped into voting for one, this can be explained by Democratic voters’ overwhelming support for establishment media outlets that steer their support towards centrist candidates over progressives (even in cases like this one where the progressive starts with a massive lead). According to a 2020 Gallup poll, Democrats’ trust in the media registered at 73%. When independents were asked the same question, 36% expressed confidence in media. Republicans, 10%.

And so while this particular contest was of course corrupted by big money and Super PAC intervention, we have to remind ourselves of two very important things:

First, big money interests will always interfere in elections, and they will always do so against the progressive in the race.

Second, and more importantly, there is a very good reason that such interventions are more effective in Democratic Party primaries than they are in Republican ones: 73% of Democrats trust the media, as opposed to 10% of Republicans. This means that Democratic voters are more likely to fall for dishonest Super PAC ads, because they’re psychologically predisposed to believe everything they see on television. These are the kinds of people who may actually think that Snapple really is made from the “Best Stuff on Earth.”

Democratic primary voters take orders from their party leaders and media idols. This explains why the party’s last ditch effort to coalesce behind Joe Biden 48 hours before Super Tuesday was so shockingly successful, and it explains why Nina Turner’s 35-point polling lead evaporated once the party bosses made their preference known.

Therefore, while observations about the influence of “oligarchs” and the like are undoubtedly accurate when it comes to summarizing this campaign, the banality of the voters themselves can no longer be excused or ignored. Democratic primary voters are simply awful. They cannot be trusted, under any circumstances, to make the right decision, which is why I myself predicted Turner would lose to Shontel Brown way back on our March 2nd podcast (skip to 33:22 to hear for yourself if you’d like).

The Democratic Party is a dead end for Leftists and progressives not because of Hillary Clinton and James Clyburn, but because of the millions of primary voters who take their cues from them. After all, Super PACs exist on the Right as well, and millions of dollars in Super PAC money was spent to destroy Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 primaries. It didn’t work against Trump because Republican voters, unlike Democrats, don’t trust the media, and instead actually think for themselves about who they want to nominate. We might not like how they think or what they think, but at least they think.

Democrats don’t think. Democrats obey. They do what the party wants them to do. And so, to put it quite simply, there is no future in the Democratic Party, because the Democratic Party is full, from top to bottom, of Democrats.

We discuss Turner’s defeat more thoroughly in episode 116 of the Due Dissidence podcast, featuring Rod Brana from The People’s Party. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Pelosi’s Student Debt Forgiveness Statement is Awful, Even by Her Standards

At her press conference last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked a question about the Biden administration’s policy on the issue of student loan debt forgiveness. As we on the Left have long known, neither Biden nor Democratic leadership have any real interest in forgiving student loan debt, and so it wouldn’t have come as much surprise to see Pelosi dodge the question by muttering a stream of meaningless, meandering gobbledygook.

Instead, Pelosi began her response by dishonestly denying that Biden himself has the authority to forgive student loans, stating that “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”

Activist Jen Perelman was quick to point out the dishonesty of this statement, tweeting the following:

More shockingly, however, Pelosi, after denying that Biden could cancel student loans unilaterally, she essentially made the case that he probably wouldn’t even if he could. She continued, “On top of that, suppose your child decided at this time that they didn’t want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations. You may not be happy about that.”

As pointed out in the above Tweet, this is as right wing an argument as they come. After all, “paying taxes to forgive other people’s obligations” is what makes all social welfare programs possible in the first place. Without it, there’s no Medicare, Medicaid, or public schools – all programs Democrats seem keen to defend against “Republican attacks.”

Once again, inaction on student debt forgiveness is hardly surprising. Broken promises are par for the course with any Democratic administration. That they would not want to betray the financial institutions that fund their campaigns by implementing this policy which enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support is as predictable as it is despicable. But the brazenness with which the Speaker of the House, one year outside what is sure to be an extremely difficult midterm election, shut down any hope of such action, is a wonder to behold.

We discuss this and more on episode 115 of the Due Dissidence podcast. To hear our full conversation, click the player below (student debt forgiveness discussion begins at 12:30):

Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Michael Brooks Was the Leader the Left Needed. Without Him, We’re a Mess.

by Keaton Weiss

July 20 marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Michael Brooks, co-host and producer of The Majority Report and host of The Michael Brooks Show. When news broke of his death, I was shocked and devastated. I didn’t know Michael personally, but since starting this blog and podcast project, I have become acquainted with many people who did. They all loved him (the extent of my communication with Michael was as a three-time caller into The Majority Report, the most recent of which was to rant about the banality of Elizabeth Warren supporters – he eventually had to cut me off, saying, “Alright, dude, relax, I agree with you.”).

Aside from the personal tragedy of the story – the fact that he died at just 36 years old – I also knew at the time what a tremendous loss this would be for progressive politics moving forward, as Michael’s invaluable contributions to Left discourse made him an indispensable presence in online media.

As far as such media personalities are concerned, Michael was the best there was. He was the smartest – he knew his stuff inside and out, and understood global politics as well as he did US politics. He was the funniest – his impressions, his satirical character creations (particularly “Right Wing Mandela” and “Nation of Islam Obama”), and his improv chops were consistently hilarious. He was the most talented as a broadcaster – delivering brilliant off-the-cuff extended monologues, hardly ever stopping and starting, stammering, or backtracking.

Most importantly, though, Michael had a crystal clear idea of what a robust and relevant Left could eventually look like. He wanted a Left that was confident, expansive, and serious about obtaining and wielding power. This made him an incredibly important voice among Leftists, who, in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 primary loss, no longer had a central organizing objective. Absent such a grand, overarching goal of electing a democratic socialist the 46th President of the United States, the progressive movement found itself, once again, leaderless and directionless.

During this time, Michael hosted intermittent livestreams from his living room in which he would lay out a coherent strategy for progressive politics moving forward, even in the midst of Bernie’s defeat and a hopeless general election campaign. In his final video (the highlights of which are embedded below), he advocated for a “cosmopolitan socialism” which rejects both reactionary nationalist “chauvinism and essentialism” as well as the “delusion and moralism” of woke culture.

Michael’s ideas were grounded in a thorough understanding of various political philosophies, and his objectives were rooted in empathy for his fellow humans. His assuredness of the viability of his ideas was strong enough to sustain the collapse of the Bernie campaign, which is something I don’t think any other Left commentator could honestly say for themselves. He presented this vision with impeccable precision, emphasizing the importance of articulating a message that was grounded in the recognition of universal material wants and needs of all people, all around the world.

Now, one year after his passing, the Left has once again done what it’s been known to do throughout history: factionalize, disorganize, and turn on itself. Online progressive media has largely devolved into its own incarnation of reality television , where high profile YouTubers cannibalize each other with petty feuds and Twitter battles, and entire channels and podcasts seem devoted to commenting on such infighting: TYT vs. Aaron Mate, Glenn Greenwald vs. Nathan Robinson, Vaush vs. Niko House, Jimmy Dore vs. just about everyone. Some channels have gone full-on MSNBC-lite, and others have driven up their viewership and subscriber numbers by endlessly pumping out one bizarre Trump-themed bullshit story after another (without naming names, those of you who follow the indie left media world close enough to have discovered this blog almost certainly know who I’m talking about.)

Michael would have had no time for any of this. He was too serious a thinker and too committed to his political project to participate in such a debasement of what once seemed like the beginning of an actual Left movement. Without a national electoral campaign to rally around, there was of course a danger that such an unraveling would take place. Because of this possibility, we desperately needed someone of extraordinary empathy, intelligence, and clarity of purpose keep Leftists focused and on message.

Until July 20, 2020, we had that someone. Since then, we haven’t.

Nowadays, it’s impossible for me to absorb the seemingly endless barrage of gossip that’s consumed the online Left this past year without thinking of how giant a hole Michael’s passing created in this space. His channel was always high in my rotation, but if he were still around, he’d likely be the only one worth watching. While consumers of progressive online media take sides over whether or not Ana Kasparian’s private message to Jimmy Dore constitutes blackmail, the overwhelming majority of the American people don’t know who the hell either of these people are, and at this rate, they never will, because the progressive movement has lost virtually all of the forward momentum we thought we had during the 2020 presidential primary.

Michael’s presence would have, at the very least, slowed this embarrassing descent into chaos. In his absence, others need to step up. So far, this hasn’t happened. Whether or not progressives can regroup and refocus remains to be seen. But looking back on the year that’s unfolded since Michael’s death, it’s clearer than ever just how irreplaceable he is and will always be.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this content, you can help us create more of it by making a secure donation via PayPal, or become a member at Patreon.com and access exclusive patron-only content. Thank you for your support!

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Podcast: Kamala Goes to Guatemala, TYT Goes Full Russiagate, Lab Leak Theory Goes Mainstream

We discuss the news of the week, including Kamala Harris’ message to Guatemalan refugees, TYT jumping the shark, and the increasingly probable “lab leak” coronavirus theory.

Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this content, you can help us create more of it by making a secure donation via PayPal, or become a member at Patreon.com and access exclusive patron-only content. Thank you for your support!

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Post-Brunch Dissident Detox Hour 9/26: AOC's "Apology," Bernie vs. CBS, Biden's Border Policies Due Dissidence