Jeff Cohen Norman Solomon Politics

How to Elect Progressives and Defeat Republicans in the Midterms

Progressive Michelle Vallejo narrowly won a Democratic primary in South Texas. [Twitter]

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon 

Almost all the primaries are behind us now, and the current outlook is still grim for the midterm elections this fall. The semi-fascist Republican Party is very well-positioned to win control of the House and has a decent chance of also gaining a majority in the Senate. But demagoguery is not destiny. Progressives can help steer the future in a better direction over the next two months. 

An important congressional primary remains — the battle for an open seat in Rhode Island — where the renowned progressive activist David Segal is waging an uphill campaign against corporate Democrats. For 20 years, Segal has been a highly talented organizer — from the local level to federal policy victories in Washington, DC. 

A recent profile by The American Prospect was accurate when it headlined Segal as a “populist coalition builder.” After stints on the Providence City Council (elected at age 22) and in the state legislature (from age 26), Segal co-founded the stellar online activist group Demand Progress in 2010. It soon gained national acclaim after successful organizing to defend an open Internet against powerful corporate interests. 

Whether in elected office or working as a determined activist, Segal has put together formidable grassroots efforts to expand economic justice, defend civil liberties, resist corporate greed and end destructive wars. We’ve worked with him in coalitions for nearly 20 years, and we’re fully confident that no one would be better at navigating the complexities and trapdoors of the House of Representatives. Election Day is Sept. 13. 

Looking ahead to the fall, one race stands out in a “purple district” that could go either way. Progressive Michelle Vallejo narrowly won a Democratic primary in South Texas and is now running neck-and-neck against a lavishly funded, Trump-allied, anti-abortion-rights Republican. 

Unlike many self-described progressive candidates this year, Vallejo has a campaign platform that includes forthright positions on foreign policy. “Combating climate change is very much dependent on changing our foreign policy to stop the disproportionate emission contributions from our military and trade deals,” she says. “And most importantly, enough with sending our young people to the frontlines fighting wars for defense contractors and big donors.” 

Another notable candidate in a closely contested general election is Jamie McLeod-Skinner, running for a House seat in Oregon. She has already done the country a major service by delivering a primary defeat to Kurt Schrader, one of the worst corporate Democrats now in Congress. 

McLeod-Skinner is facing a tough race against a Republican whose website devotes more space to one issue above all others: “Oppose Critical Race Theory.” In sharp contrast to McLeod-Skinner, an activist who has relied heavily on small donations, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that “the vast majority” of her opponent’s individual contributions “have been at or above $500 each.” 

And then there’s the Senate, where the cunning Mitch McConnell is licking his chops at the prospect of regaining his role as majority leader so he can thwart any measures toward decency. The latest polling indicates that the most pivotal Senate races are in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

In Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock is running slightly ahead of a Trump-selected ex-football-star, thanks to the GOP candidate’s various scandalsmissteps and lies. Another African American will join Democrats in the Senate if Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes can retire arch-reactionary Ron Johnson. Partly thanks to his serious messaging mishap at a supermarket in a campaign video, Trumpified Dr. Oz is running behind populist Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for Pennsylvania’s open seat. 

As progressives look toward November and aim to help out in the most strategic races, two tasks are imperative — to push back against the racist, anti-democratic Republicans, and to push forward for the full progressive agenda that’s popular with the broad electorate, while much of it is not popular with the corporatized Democratic establishment. 

The dismal performance of the Democrats running the House and Senate should not be denied — or used as an excuse to stay out of the upcoming midterm elections. If the Republican Party wins control of Congress, political realities will surely get much worse, moving the United States closer to fascism. Stopping unhinged Republicans will require that often-deplorable Democrats defeat them. Pretending otherwise would be foolish to an extreme. 

___________________________ 

Jeff Cohen is co-founder of RootsAction.org, a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College, and author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.” In 1986, he founded the media watch group FAIR. 

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.  

19 comments

  1. “Stopping unhinged Republicans will require that often-deplorable Democrats defeat them. Pretending otherwise would be foolish to an extreme.”

    What is “foolish in the extreme” is electing either Ds or Rs when there are better, much better, candidates on the ballot – esp in NC with Matthew Hoh –

    “The dismal performance of the Democrats running the House and Senate should not be denied — or used as an excuse to stay out of the upcoming midterm elections.”

    Indeed – it is time, past time, to stop electing either the “dismal Ds” or the Rs – the Ds have been dismal for decades and for decades we have chosen them over much better 3rd party candidates – which is why we have such a “dismal” government – how low have we fallen when we preach that “dismal” is the best we can hope for – good grief!

    It’s like saying – OK, you have to choose between strychnine and cyanide – orange juice is not allowed

  2. Progressives? I see none. What I see are grifters and opportunists.

    I would gnaw off my right arm before I voted for a Democrat…….or a Republican.

    In fact to vote at this point only validates an utterly corrupted system. To participate in it, is to be complicit with it. The first step in freeing yourself is to accept the truth, you, are a free range slave in the dystopia of the Empire of Lies.

    1. JustA Marverick: “. . . you, are a free range slave in the dystopia of the Empire of Lies.”

      THAT is beautiful! And so fucking true!

    2. How true! No matter who or what you vote for, what you want, what you need will not become reality as both Dems and Republicans do not care about working people.

      1. You aren’t getting it. Millions left jobless, very little or no incomes. Years of work went into dividing and conquer “the masses,” middle class vs. poor, workers vs. those left jobless. Democrats did that. We have a generation that learned nothing from our own history.

  3. Every “so-called” progressive which goes into the House (Democrats) will be co-opted by the Democratic establishment (Pelosi and friends), so what’s the point? Pathetic! End the duopoly now, join a third party and vote your heart. 45+ yrs a Democrat, I’ve had ENOUGH! VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO= HORSESHIT!

  4. US progressives more fascist than conservatives—something all Marxists know

  5. After everything we’ve witnessed in the last few years, we’re still talking about “vote blue because that will fix it.” Seriously??? Have you not paid attention? Have you noticed that the so-called squad falls in line whenever “mama bear” Pelosi breathes into their direction? Have you not noticed that all AOC is good for are tearful Instagram streams and snazzy tweets but otherwise votes in favor of the most militaristic bills? Have you not noticed that Bernie (the so-called Independent) is fully on board with whatever his “good friend” Biden and the D’s want? Have you not noticed that the progressive caucus has completely fallen down and in line? Have you not noticed that people in this country are suffering and nobody in Congress gives a sh**t? So, as a thought experiment, what would happen if we send a so-called progressive to Congress? They’d join the fraud squad. And fall in line. And why? Because they don’t have to listen to us progressives since they believe we will always vote for them because “they’ve got nowhere else to go.” Time to prove them wrong.

  6. There was a time when I believed John Yarmuth, and then Bernie, and then AOC, and then Nina Turner were really going to do something and make a difference. After watching them and the rest of the Squad all sell us out, I AM DONE.

    After 37 years as a registered Democrat with an excellent voting record, I am thoroughly disgusted and have left the party. As much as I despise Mitch McConnell, I will not be voting for Charles Booker. He is pro Ukraine war, so he is already proving to be yet another sellout. I won’t vote for anyone in the duopoly ever again.

    Just stop with the bullshit. All the party does is dangle carrots. They are worse than Republicans because they pretend to be something they are not. They are useless and they do everything they can to block third parties from getting on the ballot. I hate them.

  7. I’d suggest learning the meaning “progressive politics.” The party had swung well to the (regressive) right by the 1990s, reversing nearly a century of socioeconomic progress. Not a single contemporary Democrat is a political progressive.

  8. To authors:

    I just want to say that anyone who still believe in American political and electoral system ranked one of worse undemocratic scam in the world has to have his head examined.

    The Princeton University report settled it. We are living in oligarchic state. Period.

    The politics is a meaningless puppet show.

    Instead of slavishly submit to a sham boycott this electoral farce and heed Jefferson’s words from Declaration of Independence about usurpers of our sovereign power to be throw off by force of pitchforks.

    Voting in US is nothing by self disenfranchisement, self emasculation and submission to oligarchic usurpers of power.

    “The individual loses his substance by voluntarily bowing to an overpowering and distant oligarchy, while simultaneously“participating” in sham democracy.”

    C. Wright Mills,”The Power Elite” (1956)

      1. The current article “Chris Hedges: Let’s Stop Pretending America Is a Functioning Democracy” may be just the antidote needed for those who believe that this tripe about electing “progressives” is somehow related to “truth”.

        FYI – Statements like “Vote for Blue no matter Who” are neither true or false.

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