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Hitting the political spot

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, September 3rd, 2020 - 20 comments
Categories: us politics - Tags: , , ,

One of the good things about 2020 is that we’re so taken up with our own crises we don’t have the incessant focus on the US election that we had 4 years ago. I’ve been largely able to ignore the debate here about this year’s one. But all good things must come to an end, so here’s my first US election 2020 post.

Senator Ed Markey just defeated Joe Kennedy in the Massachusetts democratic primary.

I’m in my fifties so this campaign video hit the spot for me. Definitely the music, the flashback video, but also the unabashed, classic left wing rhetoric and politics, the modern merging of left and green politics, and the bold as theft of JFK’s legendary Inauguration Speech call to Americans. Yus!

I’m curious to hear how it lands for other lefties.

For background on what this is about the Atlantic did a piece on Markey’s strategy,

For the better part of a year, Senator Edward Markey was a legislator spiraling toward a forced retirement, a veteran progressive whose legacy in Massachusetts would soon be reduced to a footnote in the latest chapter of the Kennedy dynasty. Polls taken last fall showed Representative Joe Kennedy III trouncing Markey in a Democratic primary; at the height of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, it was unclear whether Markey could even muster enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Tonight, however, Markey accomplished what no Democrat or Republican had ever done: He defeated a Kennedy in Massachusetts.

The identity Markey’s camp created—that of a tenacious progressive fighter who often took lonely stands against his party—closely resembled Sanders’s. They dug up a vintage 1970s TV ad from when Markey first ran for Congress, in which he boasted that party bosses had thrown his desk out into a hallway. The linchpin of the strategy was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed Markey after he partnered with her to introduce the Green New Deal just weeks after she took office in 2019. Progressive groups such as the Sunrise Movement joined her in backing Markey, rewarding his leadership on climate change while forgiving his votes for the Iraq War, NAFTA, and the 1994 crime bill. (Activists on the left assailed former Vice President Joe Biden for a similar record during the Democratic presidential primary.) A three-minute video hailing Markey as the “Green New Dealmaker” and co-opting a famous Kennedy refrain became a sensation, and an ad featuring Ocasio-Cortez ran on TV in the state more than 1,200 times.

And this from The Hill,

Those close to Markey attribute his success to robust progressive support at the grass-roots level as well as a slow and steady campaign strategy.

“Start with the better candidate, deliver a positive message and then organize like hell,” Markey’s campaign manager, John Walsh, told The Hill in an interview last week.

The senator himself addressed his supporters during his victory speech on Tuesday, calling his win a “reaffirmation” of the progressive movement.

“Tonight is more than just a celebration of a movement,” Markey said, speaking from his hometown of Malden, Mass. “It is a real reaffirmation of the need to have a movement, a progressive movement of young people demanding radical change, demanding justice.”

Markey’s victory comes nearly a year after Kennedy, 39, entered the race with a double-digit lead over the 74-year-old incumbent, drawing media attention from Massachusetts and beyond.

“If you’re a Democrat in Massachusetts, you’re frequently confronted with a surplus of talent,” Walsh said. “In primaries, we are lots of time choosing not between good and bad; we’re choosing between good and better. And in this case, Joe Kennedy is damn good, but Ed Markey is better.”

Lots of good stuff here for lefties in New Zealand to chew on. Not importing a political model from the US (we don’t exactly need a Green New Deal if we have an electorally empowered Green Party in government), but the emphasis on movement building and bold left wing positioning is inspiring. Watching the left’s eating its young response to James Shaw’s fuck up in the past week tells me we are still quite a long way from this.

Where is the solidarity? Which are our solid movement-based organisations, how visible are they and are they collaborating? Are we supporting them? Where is the political culture that would enable progressives to shift from competition and conflict to cooperation and allyship? Do we really want to spend so much time talking about National? (noting that Trump was burned solidly near the start of Markey’s video and then wasn’t mentioned again).

There’s something else worth noting here, which is that old white men have a solid place in politics where they are aligned with progressive values and direction and are willing to share power.  So we might also want to consider getting past the conflict around that that simmers under the left in New Zealand. There is room for everyone at the table, and, there are obvious real politik reasons for not throwing the conventional baby out with the bathwater.

Ending with this campaign ad from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, likewise for the inspiration and what we can learn,

20 comments on “Hitting the political spot ”

  1. Ovid 1

    I’m a little younger in my early 40s and found it a strong ad too. Here’s a discussion with the ad maker.

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    Maybe if we'd had an Ed Markey we wouldn't have have our fishing industry captured. There's a bit of a groundswell developing against the folk who glommed it, and the nodding dog MPs that let it happen.

  3. Andre 3

    I'm not reading much into Markey holding on against Kennedy. Because Alex Morse didn't manage to knock off the useless POS Richard Neal that really needs to go, in a Massachusetts House district that's very averagely similar to the state as a whole. Seems to me that as much as anything, it merely illustrates the power of incumbency.


  4. Byd0nz 4

    Well I' in my seventies and there is nothing the left can learn from the Yanks except to keep them at arms length

    • I agree that the US 'left' has nothing to teach NZ 'left'. Though our 'left' is pretty much right of centre anyway in my old fashioned terms. When will we re-own our power generation capacity? When will our poverty and dire housing levels be turned back? Not with any of our political parties.

  5. Sabine 5

    Maybe the first thing to do would be to define 'lefty' cause in this case both would argue that they are 'left', as in 'democratic party member and elected officials'.

    To many not in the US that may seem not 'left' but in the US that is the left.

    So if we want to ponder about what NZ could learn from it, we need to define "left' for NZ.

  6. Gabby 6

    Not in the pocket of corporate donors?

    • weka 6.1

      if you are suggesting that Markey is in the pocket of corporate donors, say so, and present your argument. Am getting sick of a range of people using insinuation via question in lieu of debate

      • Gabby 6.1.1

        I'm suggesting that a working definition of 'leftist' could be 'not in the pocket of corporate donors'.

        • weka

          the reply function isn't working well on some devices, so it would help if people named the comment the are responding to so we know what is being talked about. Your comment stood alone and appeared to be a reference to the post.

  7. Given that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given only 60 seconds to speak at the Democrat Convention..and that was simply a technicality…while the Iraq War architect Colin Powell got to blather on …..I'm not feeling that hopeful for change beyond the possible narrow victory over the Orange One.

    • Siobhan 7.1

      "Rep. Nancy Pelosi says she supports incumbent House Democrats, even if they’re running for Senate.

      During an appearance Sunday morning on CNN, the House speaker defended her decision to endorse Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s campaign to unseat Sen. Ed Markey last week — a move which drew swift criticism from progressive groups and elected officials alleging a “double standard” given the Democratic congressional leadership’s opposition to primary challengers.

      Pelosi, however, says she has been “consistent.”"

      meantime..in the real world…waaaay back in 2019..

      ……"THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL Campaign Committee warned political strategists and vendors Thursday night that if they support candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats, the party will cut them off from business."

      so the lesson? Don't stand with the centrists…they have no intention what so ever of humouring the Progressive Green or the Leftie agenda.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      Same thing happens here. Those with more support get to speak longer.

      I happen to think that that is a massive spike in our democracy. How can people make an informed decision if they don't have the same level of information from one party/candidate to the next.

      • Siobhan 7.2.1

        "Those with more support"..???

        I would have thought that the Progressives had proved they have alot of support*..and that those voters need to be thrown some sort of bone…you can gaurantee, should Biden lose to Trump the so called "Bernie Bros" ie Progressives..will take the blame..yet no one in the DNC seems that concerned sticking to their progressive promises…(not even when it comes to fossil fuels)

        Meantime Powell and Kasich are presumably speaking in the hope they will bring over the so called 'soft' right wingers..unfortunately they both have very little support..though if you know of polls that would sugest otherwise…

        *"Just two years after she pulled off a stunning upset over a veteran lawmaker, Ocasio-Cortez has become a magnet for small-dollar donors. She has raised more than $10.5 million, about 80 percent of which came from donors giving under $200, the FEC reports show.

        That mammoth haul makes her the fifth-most prodigious fundraiser "

        • Draco T Bastard

          As measured by the last election and I was speaking about NZ. The Greens don't get anywhere near the speaking time as the larger parties.

          I assume similar practices occur in the US where there's limited speaking time that needs to be divided up.

          • Siobhan


            I'm entirely talking about America and the situation within the Democratic Party …as in Wekas piece…and per this pieces choice of photo…Cortez ranks at number 10..same ranking as Hilary Clinton…so again..there is no any justification in sidelining Cortez..

            I very much doubt that someone within the Greens..with that level of support, would be sidelined for a speech in favour of a former national Party supporting General..

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    and the bold as theft of JFK’s legendary Inauguration Speech call to Americans.

    Kennedy reminded people that the country was the people and that if they wanted a better country then they were going to have to work for it collectively.

    Markey just reversed that putting it into the realm of the individualism that has torn society apart over the last 40 to 50 years.

    Society cannot exist without the individuals that form it but the individuals cannot live without society that protects and nurtures them.

    Its a symbiotic relationship that needs to be balanced between the needs and desires of the individual and the needs of society and it all needs to exist within the limitations of the environment.

  9. Lucy 9

    Wasn't there two old white men in the Greens who flipped out at the last election? The problem is that old white men have run the world into the state its in so any of them with left wing cred are part of that state. When the chips are down they tend to revert to type and start yelling for the rule of law. We need change and the old white men can not give us that, they and their children have too much to lose! When i was a punk there was a rule about don't trust anyone over 21 as by then you are part of the system and have more to lose if you lose everything. It was a great rule and you can never trust anyone who has an interest in the system remaining. I worry that AOC is surrounding herself with old white men – the Green deal needs to be run by people with future not people with past.

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