How battered will I be? In the midst of Black Lives Matter and surging protests against militarized police departments and racial profiling, how insensitive will I be characterized? Will I be vilified for being racist, because although the narrative of this post is dedicated to electability and pragmatic election strategy, it addresses black candidates in its premise. Or, more importantly, the necessity of avoiding progressive black candidates, at least in Southern elections.
Yet I must, must protest the fallacy of Democrats running, supporting, and encouraging “Progressive” black candidates in Southern States. In their hubris and ignorance, they sabotage the very reforms we need. I supported Stacey Abrams. I voted for Andrew Gillum. But in whatever context you want to position the results, they lost. If held again today, the results would be the same. Probably in the same manner, through voter suppression with a tall side order of bigotry and hate.
Is it so far-fetched to Progressives that Republicans choose their opponents? Democrats do. These are the very incendiary actions the Bernie supporters railed against; the embedded preferential treatment of preferred candidates in the Democratic National Committee is also alive in Republican politics. Why would it not be? Such actions are and have been at play for centuries in politics. The act of Party insiders supporting and choosing Party candidates before the people vote is nothing new.
Equally it is a tried and true method of election for the opposing party to try to choose your candidate as well. Do Progressive’s really live in a vacuum, a fantasy land of ‘Fair Play” where the people choose the candidates to run? Are they that ignorant? Politics, local as well as national, is akin to war not chess. In every instance that they are able, politicians and their parties, work to choose the candidate that will oppose them. In the South, for Republicans, this is a black candidate.
Nixon chose the Southern Strategy in 1968 because it works. Racial bigotry will get a candidate elected. Yes, it is 52 years later. But what makes you think it is no longer a viable option in politics, especially in the South. Because Barack Obama got elected? Because black people are no longer profiled by the police? Because we aren’t, 60 years after Martin Luther King, still demonstrating in the streets for minority equality?
Right now, we have a white woman, Amy McGrath, running to beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. By all accounts this would be a hard race, one that she should lose. But against these odds she is tied or ahead in the polls. Democrats should be gearing up to support her. Mitch McConnell is a pox on the United States. The only reason he does not exist as the single most insidious member of the elected class is because Donald Trump beats everyone to that position. We, the United States, need to defeat this 78-year-old cancer before it metastasizes anymore. For Providence’s sake, he is 78 years old! If he gets elected, if he lives, he will be 84 before the next election. That alone should disqualify him.
But what do the Democrats do? Instead of embracing McGrath, warts and all, the Progressive arm of the Democratic Party searches out a black first term state representative and has their marquee leaders embrace him and raise funds for him. They take this as an opportunity to showcase their agenda and to hell with defeating McConnell. This challenge then turns into a fight wasting months of McGrath’s hard fundraising on an internal election. Making our own party fight the Republican’s battles for them. We show the weaknesses of our candidate for the Republican incumbent and damage her electability in the eyes of the public. McConnell has to do nothing as we sit and eat our own.
There is no loss here for the Republicans in the Democrats internal fight. And foolish Democrats feel it is Democracy in action as they protest against accepting ‘establishment’ candidates. Progressives Democrats cheer as one of their own tacks to the wind and pushes their farther left agenda. Not once. Not once do they even consider that the very Republicans they despise have, in fact, created this internal crisis. This is not Progressive ideals against Democratic establishment. It is a clever, and oft used political gambit to have Republicans chose the candidate they prefer to run against. They want the weakest candidate. The one most likely to be defeated in the general election.
If Charles Booker, McGrath’s challenger succeeds in the primary, Progressive Democrats will drool with excitement. They will contemplate with glee the chance of removing the biggest obstacle to their agenda and planting their green flag in McConnell’s face. But Mitch McConnell will have gained his opposition candidate. The one he knows he has the best chance to defeat. He knows this choice all but assures his victory even though he is reviled by most Kentucky voters. McConnell know his constituency. He knows there is nil to zero chance that white voters will replace a white Senator with a black man in Kentucky. Booker will turn out more black voters, minority voters, and progressive voters. But he will also turn out more white men and women and turn many that may have voted Democrat back to the Republican, Mitch McConnell.
Dour, sour, and out of touch in today’s new election climate you reply? Maybe. Probably not. I live in the South. I have run campaigns and witnessed firsthand how well financed Republicans choose Democratic candidates. I have also witnessed the bigotry they fashion out of earshot of those that may be offended. The Southern Strategy, while not as influential as it was in 1968, still thrives in most Southern states. You, dear reader, have witnessed it in countless videos and news articles.
To some this sounds familiar. Wasn’t the same tactic used in the Presidential election of 2016? Did not the Progressive candidate stay in until June forcing the eventual female candidate to spend millions upon millions of needed dollars to defend a position she should have settled in April? Weren’t those attacks by the Progressives used against her in the general election? Wasn’t her position so weakened by so many attacks from her own party that she herself, after years of public service, was deemed ‘unlikeable’. The resulting action was an apathetic electorate that should have been enthused to elect the first woman candidate. The result? The most vile, narcissistic, piece of self-serving flesh that has all but destroyed our Democracy and sold us out to our enemies.
The same strategy now appears in place in Kentucky. And why not? What has Mitch McConnell to lose? A black man will not get elected in Kentucky to replace him. Voter suppression and bigotry will ensure his election. Having the black man challenge McGrath through use of the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party will damage the enthusiasm that she should have been able to engender. She will also have wasted millions that could have been spent on the general election on her race with Booker. The apathy created in Kentucky by this challenge along with the millions in funds wasted will, if allowed, return McConnell to the Senate.
The sad part of this strategy, beyond the seemingly ignorance of the Progressive Democrats, is this is just another voter suppression strategy finely honed by Republicans. Not only that, but if McConnell returns to the Senate, progressive issues will never see the light of day. At least not for six years. Yes, he is that good at Senate rules. Progressives in their exuberance to prove their strength through internal revolution are now the architects of their own demise. How do we make them see, understand and learn that at least in Kentucky this is not their time? The purpose is to defeat McConnell, not advance an agenda. If McConnell isn’t defeated. If Progressives fall for this ploy. Nothing. Absolutely nothing they stand for has any chance of success. Defeating McConnell is the goal. All else at this time is irrelevant.
We, and Progressives, must understand that McConnell is not looking for a mandate. He doesn’t need popularity. He is looking for a win. He only needs 1 vote more than his opposition to win. He is seeking just that 1 vote. Kentucky will be tight with McGrath as the candidate. McConnell and his allies want a weaker candidate. If not a weaker candidate, a weakened one.
McConnell and his allies know the odds are difficult if not outright against him winning another term. But if they can stoke this Democratic primary challenge, they can, if they can’t put Booker in her place, at least reduce McGraths’ voter’s enthusiasm. Because in classic voter suppression if they can keep one more McGrath voter apathetic and at home or stop her from posting that one needed ad that motivates that one needed voter, McConnell wins. Then we, the United States, get the scourge of McConnell back in the Senate. Not because he should be or even because Kentucky wants him. All because Progressives decided to back a black man in a southern state, seemingly unaware that they themselves were being played as patsies by the establishment. Just not by the establishment they expected.