The United Democracy Project, a super PAC for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, poured millions to defeat Lee in a Pennsylvania House primary. Similar dark money groups have targeted several progressives.
BY ABIGAIL TRACY Wanity Fair
MAY 19, 2022 – Around seven weeks before Pennsylvania’s primary elections, Summer Lee commanded a lead of 25 points over rival Steve Irwin in the race for Pennsylvania’s 12th District, a blue stronghold encompassing Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs. It appeared that Lee, 34, a Black woman and progressive activist who currently serves as a Pennsylvania state representative, would make history.
Then came the outside money. By election day, Democratic groups had dumped more than $2 million into the primary race to defeat Lee—dwarfing the outside money spent attacking Irwin, a mere $2,400. Specifically, the United Democracy Project (UDP)—a political action committee for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—spent $2,025,297 against Lee and $660,317 in support of Irwin, 62, a Pittsburgh lawyer and county Democratic Party organizer. The ads painted Lee as anti-Israel and claimed she was “not a real Democrat,” following a playbook that moderate groups have run against other progressives nationwide, including against Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman.
Lee declared victory on election night, at 12:30 a.m.; as of midday Wednesday, news outlets still hadn’t called an official winner—the race was too tight. Progressive groups and lawmakers including Senator Bernie Sanders congratulated her on the win. Lee declared, “This is the mightiest movement in the land!” Much of Pennsylvania’s Democratic establishment, including the retiring representative Mike Doyle, whose seat Lee and Irwin are after, had thrown their support behind Irwin. “They say a Black woman can’t win. Well, we came together. We can’t be stopped. We have a lot of work ahead of us. When we set out to do this, we believed a better world was possible; now we have to go do it,” Lee said in her remarks early Wednesday morning.
But the efforts to stop Lee are part of a broader trend in Democratic politics, as super PACs with big budgets have sought to prevent progressives—often women of color—from winning races across the country. “It’s really concerning to see the huge influx of outside money flowing into this race and the disingenuous effort to paint a progressive woman of color and the only sitting elected official in the race as an opponent of the Democratic Party,” a senior progressive official in the House told me.
April 4, 2022 – The Congressional Progressive Caucus Pac Is Throwing Its Weight Behind A Democratic Socialist Running For The House In Pennsylvania.
The Political Action Committee Is Endorsing State Rep. Summer Lee In The 12Th Congressional District, The Hill First Reported, Offering A Boost In The Crowded Democratic Primary From Top Lawmakers On The Left.
“The Progressive Caucus Has Been Building Power In Congress To Hold Our Party Accountable To The Needs Of Everyday Working People Across The Country,” Lee Said On Monday About The Endorsement.
“They Led The Movement To Pass President Biden’S Full Agenda And Have Been On The Frontlines Of Expanding Our Labor Movement, Advocating For Medicare For All And A Green New Deal And Putting People Back At The Center Of Our Policy.”
Progressive Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) And Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Who Co-Chair The Pac, Called Lee A “Champion For Union Rights And The Labor Movement, A Leader For Environmental Justice And Strong Advocate For Working Families Across Pennsylvania” In A Joint Statement.
Lee, Who Entered The Five-Candidate Primary In The Fall, Has Already Earned The Support Of Other Major Figures Among The Party’S Left Flank, Including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). She Is Also Backed By National Progressive And Labor Groups Like The Seiu, Working Families Party, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats And The Pro-Female Candidate Organization Emily’S List.
“She Has Led The Progressive Movement In The Pennsylvania State Legislature And Has Built Power For Her Community From The Ground Up – Helping Elect Progressives Up And Down The Ballot,” Pocan, Jayapal And Raskin Said Of Lee.
“We Know She Will Bring This Dedication To Progressive Advocacy And People-Powered Organizing To Congress, And We Are So Proud To Endorse Her In This Campaign.”
Lee Is The Pac’S Latest Endorsement. The Committee Is Seeking To Help Elect Progressive Candidates Into Office — Including By Wading Into Intraparty Primaries — That Share Leaders’ Vision For A Fairer And More Expansive Version Of Government.
We can best understand the major political parties in the U.S. as constantly changing coalitions with no firm commitment to program or discipline.
The electoral strategic terrain is constantly changing, and we don’t want to be stuck with old maps and faulty models. In 2014, I first suggested setting aside the traditional “two-party system” frame for US politics, which obscures far more than it reveals, and making use of a “six-party” model instead. Every two years, I’ve revised the model, and now, with the November 2022 elections coming up, it’s time for another update. What follows is an abbreviated version of the explanation; you can read it in full here.
Some critics have objected to my use of the term “party” for factional or interest group clusters. The point is taken, but I would also argue that the major parties in the U.S., in general, are not ideological parties in the European sense. Instead, they are constantly changing coalitions of these clusters with no firm commitment to program or discipline.
The Democratic and the Republican Party each contain three such clusters, as they have since 2016. Under the Democratic tent, the three main groups remain the Blue Dogs, the Third Way Centrists and the Rainbow Social Democrats. The GOP umbrella covers Donald Trump’s Rightwing Populists, the Christian Nationalists, and the Never-Trumpers.
But since our last update in 2018, the question of a clear and present danger of fascism has moved from the margins to the center of political discourse. Far from an ongoing abstract debate, we are now watching its hidden elements come to light every day in the media. We also see the ongoing machinations in the GOP hierarchy and in state legislatures reshaping election laws in their favor. Now, the question is not whether a fascist danger exists, but how to fight and defeat it.
So here’s the new snapshot of the range of forces for today.
The Six-Party System
The Right-wing Populists
This “party,” as mentioned, has taken over the GOP and is now tightening its grip.
The economic core of right-wing populism remains anti-global “producerism versus parasitism.” Employed workers, business owners, real estate developers, small bankers are all “producers.” They oppose “parasite” groups above and below, but mainly those below them—the unemployed (“Get a Job!” as an epithet), the immigrants, poor people of color, Muslims, and “the Other” generally. When they attack those above, the target is usually George Soros, a Jew.
Recall that Trump entered politics by declaring Obama to be an illegal alien and an illegitimate officeholder (a parasite above), but quickly shifted to Mexicans and Muslims and anyone associated with Black Lives Matter. This aimed to pull out the fascist and white supremacist groups of the “Alt Right”–using Breitbart and worse to widen their circles, bringing them closer to Trump’s core. With these fascists as ready reserves, Trump reached further into Blue Dog territory, and its better-off workers, retirees, and business owners conflicted with white identity issues—immigration, Islamophobia, misogyny, and more. Today they still largely make up the audience at his mass rallies.
Trump’s outlook is not new. It has deep roots in American history, from the anti-Indian ethnic cleansing of President Andrew Jackson to the nativism of the Know-Nothings, to the nullification theories of John C. Calhoun, to the lynch terror of the KKK, to the anti-elitism and segregation of George Wallace and the Dixiecrats. Internationally, Trump combines aggressive jingoism, threats of trade wars, and an isolationist ‘economic nationalism’ aimed at getting others abroad to fight your battles for you. At the same time, your team picks up the loot (“We should have seized and kept the oil!”).
Trump’s GOP still contains his internal weaknesses: the volatile support of distressed white workers and small producers. At present, they are still forming a key social base. But the problem is that Trump did not implement any substantive programs apart from tax cuts. These mainly benefited the top 10% and created an unstable class contradiction in his operation. Most of what Trump has paid out is what WEB Dubois called the “psychological wage” of “whiteness,” a dubious status position. Trump’s white supremacist demagogy and misogyny will also continue to unite a wide array of all nationalities of color and many women and youth against him.
Trump’s religious ignorance, sexual assaults and a porn star scandal always pained his alliance with the Christian Nationalist faction (Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos, et. al.), and the DeVos family (Amway fortune). They were willing to go along with Trump’s amoral lifestyle for the sake of his pending judicial appointments. The Feb 7, 2022 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering against Black voters in Alabama is only one case in point. The Trump-Christian alliance, nonetheless, has become more frayed since Jan. 6 and the ‘Hang Mike Pence’ spectacle.
2. The Christian Nationalists
This “party” grew from a subset of the former Tea Party bloc. It’s made up of several Christian rightist trends developed over decades, which gained more coherence under Vice President Mike Pence. It includes conservative evangelicals seeking to recast a patriarchal and racist John Wayne into a new warrior version of Jesus.
A good number of Christian nationalists are Protestant theocracy-minded fundamentalists, especially the “Dominionist” sects in which Ted Cruz’s father was active. The ‘End Times’ Domininists present themselves as the only true, “values-centered” (Biblical) conservatives. They argue against any kind of compromise with the globalist “liberal-socialist bloc,” which ranges, in their view, from the GOP’s Mitt Romney to Bernie Sanders. They are more akin to classical liberalism than neoliberalism in economic policy. This means abandoning nearly all regulations, much of the safety net, overturning Roe v. Wade, getting rid of marriage equality (in the name of ‘religious liberty’) and abolishing the IRS and any progressive taxation in favor of a single flat tax.
The classic liberalism of most Christian Nationalist is also a key reason they attract money from the Koch Brothers networks. While the Kochs hold Trump and his populists in some contempt, the Christian Nationalist faction has access to Koch funds and its American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) legislative projects, along with access to the DeVos fortunes. Effectively, Christian nationalist prosperity economics amounts to affirmative action for the better-off, where the rise of the rich is supposed to pull everyone else upwards. Those below must also pay their tithes and pull upward with their “bootstraps.” They argue for neo-isolationism on some matters of foreign policy. But as “Christian Zionists” they favor an all-out holy war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” to the point of “making the sand glow” with the use of nuclear weapons. They pushed for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and ripping up the Iran nuclear deal. All this is aimed at greasing the skids for the “End Times” and the “Second Coming.” With Cruz, Pence and DeVos as leaders, they have become the second most powerful grouping under the GOP tent, and the one with the most reactionary platform and outlook, even more so than Trump himself in some ways.
3. The Establishment Neoliberal ‘RINOs’
This is the name now widely used in the media for what we previously labeled the Multinationalists. It’s mainly the upper crust and neoliberal business elites that have owned and run the GOP for years, but they are now largely out in the cold. This neoliberal grouping included the quasi-libertarian House Freedom Caucus, the smaller group of NeoCons on foreign policy (John Bolton and John McCain), and the shrinking number of RINO (Republican In Name Only) moderates in The Lincoln Project. The Establishment also favors a globalist, U.S. hegemonist, and even, at times, a unilateralist approach abroad, with some still defending the Bush-Cheney disaster in Iraq. Their prominent voice today is Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
We also need to keep in mind the global backdrop to these shifts. The worldwide process of technology-driven financialization has divided the ruling class of late capitalism in every major country into three—a local sector of the transnational capitalist class, the nation-based multinationals, and an anti-globalist national sector. Thus among traditional U.S. neoliberals, some are U.S. hegemonists, but many have a transnational globalist understanding of the world with vast amounts of their money in foreign stock. China and global value chains integrate them with other global capitalists. This is why Trump’s trade policy is so controversial with Wall Street elites of both Republican and Democratic leanings. U.S. economic hegemony makes no sense at this financial and productive integration level. The global three-way division also serves to explain why Trump’s rightwing populism, despite its American characteristics, is connected to the rightwing nationalist-populist rise in all European countries. He is not ‘explainable’ in American terms alone.
This subordination is a big change for the traditional GOP top dogs. They would like to purge a weakened Trump from the party and rebuild, but so far lack the ability. They could try to form a new party with neoliberal Dems. Or, more likely, they could join the Dems and try to push out or smother those to the left of the Third Way grouping. At the moment, however, the much-weakened GOP’s old Establishment is left with the choice of surrender, or crossing over to the Third Way bloc under the Dem tent. A good number already did so to vote for Biden in the Dem 2020 primary and general, expanding the Dem electorate to the right.
Now let’s turn to the Dem tent, starting at the top of the graphic.
4. The Blue Dogs
The Blue Dog grouping has close ties to big corporate interests, including the fossil fuel and health insurance industries and Big Pharma. It has PACs “that raise millions of dollars every cycle from hundreds of corporate PACs, then send maximum donations of $10,000 back out to their members and more business-friendly Democratic House candidates.”
This small “party” has persisted and gained some energy. The recent effort of West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin to block or gut Biden’s reforms is a case in point. One earlier reason was that the United Steel Workers and a few craft unions had decided to work with Trump on tariffs and trade. The USW also got firmly behind Connor Lamb (D-PA) for Congress. Lamb won a narrow victory in a rural, conservative Western Pennsylvania congressional district, but with many USW members’ votes. He was endorsed by the Blue Dog PAC, although he is not a formal member of the caucus. Getting into a nearly physical floor fight with the GOP over Jan. 6 “radicalized” Lamb a bit, moving him leftward.
But the small Blue Dog resurgence may not last. On the one hand, the DNC Third Way gang currently loves people like Lamb, and wants to see more candidates leaning to the center and even the right. On the other hand, an unstable Trump out of office has little to offer on major infrastructure plans save for “Build The Wall” chanting at rallies. His potential votes among USW and other union members may shrink.
5. The Third Way New Democrats
First formed by the Clintons, with international assistance from Tony Blair and others, this dominant “party” was funded by Wall Street finance capitalists. The founding idea was to move toward neoliberalism by creating distance between themselves and the traditional Left-labor-liberal bloc, i.e., the traditional unions and civil rights groups still connected to the New Deal legacy. Another part of Third Way thinking was to shift the key social base away from the core of the working class toward college-educated suburban voters, but keeping alliances with Black and women’s groups still functional.
Thus the Third Way had tried to temper the harsher neoliberalism of the GOP by ‘triangulating’ to find neo-Keynesian and left-Keynesian compromise policies. The overall effect has been to move Democrats and their platform generally rightward. With Hillary Clinton’s narrow defeat, the Third Way’s power in the party diminished somewhat, but it gained clout with the Biden victory.
As mentioned above, its labor alliances have weakened, with unions now going in three directions. Most of labor has remained with the Third Way. Some moved rightward to the Blue Dogs while others—Communications Workers, National Nurses United, and the U.E.—endorsed Bernie Sanders and are part of the social-democratic bloc. Regarding the current relation of forces in the party apparatus, the Third Way has about 60% of the positions and still controls the major money.
The key test was the November 2020 battle with Trump: Which political grouping under the Dem tent in 2020 inspired and mobilized new forces within the much-needed ‘Blue Wave’, gave it focus and put the right numbers in the right places? This question brings us to the last of the six “parties.”
6..The Rainbow Social Democrats
This description is better than simply calling it the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), as this article’s first version did. I’ve kept the “Rainbow” designation because of the dynamic energy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad. (The Third Way has kept the older and more pragmatic voters of the rainbow groupings under its centrist influence.)
The “Social Democrat” title doesn’t mean each leader or activist here is in a social-democrat or democratic socialist group like DSA. It means the core groups–the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Working Families Party (WFP), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Justice Democrats and Our Revolution and Indivisible—all have platforms that are roughly similar to the left social democrat groupings in Europe. Germany’s Die Linke’s election platform, for example, is not that different from Bernie’s or the Working Families Party. This is made even more evident with AOC and Bernie’s self-descriptions as “democratic socialists” in the 2020 primaries and the general election, where it only seemed to help. The platform, however, is not socialist itself, but best described as a common front against finance capital, war, and the white supremacist and fascist right. This is true of groups like Die Linke as well, which met recently with PDA and Congressional Progressive Caucus members.
This grouping has also been energized by the dramatic growth of the DSA since the 2016 Sanders campaign. Now with nearly 100.000 members and chapters in every state, DSA has already won a few local and statehouse races. They are now an important player in their own right within these local clusters.
This overall growth of this “party” is all for the good. The common front approach of the Social Democratic bloc can unite more than a militant minority of people who identify as socialists. It can draw a progressive majority together around both immediate needs and structural reforms, expressed in a platform like the “Third Reconstruction” program championed by the Poor People’s Campaign.
What does it all mean?
With this brief descriptive and analytical mapping of American politics, many things are falling into place. The formerly subaltern rightist groupings in the GOP have risen in revolt against the Neoliberal Establishment of the Cheneys, Romneys and the Bushes. Now they have rightwing populist and white nationalist hegemony. The GOP, then, can be accurately called the party of the neo-Confederates and the main target of a popular, anti-fascist front. Under the other tent, the Third Way is seeking a new post-neoliberal platform, through President Joe Biden’s reforms. The progressive-center unity of the earlier Obama coalition, with all its constituency alliances, is still in place. At the same time, the Third Way still wants to co-opt and control the Social Democrats as an energetic but critical secondary ally. The Sanders forces have few illusions about this pressure on them, and don’t want to be anyone’s subaltern without a fight. So we on the Left are continuing to press all our issues, but adapting some policies to the common front against the fascist right. If we work well, we will build more base organizations, more alliances, and more clout as we go.
A longer version of this article can be found HERE at the Online University of the Left
The map slightly favors Republicans — with some important wins for Democrats.
Pennsylvania’s new congressional map, as chosen by the state Supreme Court.
By Jonathan Lai Philadelphia Inquirer
Feb 23, 2022 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has selected a new congressional map that will shape power and politics for the next decade, one that’s largely based on the current map and slightly favors Republicans — but with some important wins for Democrats.
In a 4-3 decision Wednesday, the court chose a map that was drawn by a Stanford professor and proposed by Democratic plaintiffs. It’s a major decision for the justices, one that will draw intense political scrutiny for the court’s elected Democratic majority. It also left the state’s May 17 primary in place, despite worries it would need to be delayed.
Congressional maps are redrawn every decade to reflect changes in population, and Pennsylvania has a history of partisan gerrymandering — drawing maps to unfairly favor one political party. With the state losing one of its 18 seats in the House of Representatives, the new districts will help determine control of Congress and how communities are represented in the years to come.
With at least four competitive House districts, Pennsylvania is a key battleground in this year’s campaign for control of Congress, with Republicans needing to gain just five seats nationwide to take the majority.
The new map was drawn by Jonathan Rodden, a well-known Stanford expert on redistricting and political geography. Rodden drew the map based on the current one, using a “least-change” approach.
It creates nine districts that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, and eight that voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, according to a detailed data analysis conducted for The Inquirer by the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project. It slightly favors Republicans on multiple measures of partisan skew, according to the analysis.
Looking at the two-party vote share in the two most recent presidential and U.S. Senate elections, The Inquirer classifies six of the districts as strongly Republican, five as strongly Democratic, and three each as leaning Democratic and Republican. Four districts in the new map are so closely divided that either party could realistically win them, the same as in the previous version, and a few others could become competitive in wave elections.
Unlike redistricting in some other states this year, the new Pennsylvania map doesn’t reduce the number of competitive swing seats.
But there are some individual winners and losers within the parties.
ALIQUIPPA — Gov. Tom Wolf visited Aliquippa Wednesday morning to take a closer look at what a several-million-dollar investment into the city will look like.
The city was awarded several state grants since 2015 reaching a little over $11 million. Each grant targets innovation and revitalization in the old mill town, which has struggled economically since the demise of the steel industry.
“If you think about the history of Aliquippa, 51% of the population lived and worked in that mill,” Mayor Dwan Walker said Wednesday. “So why not us? Why not Aliquippa come back as a phoenix rising from the ashes, why not a renaissance in Aliquippa?”
Walker explained what the city has done, and plans to do in the future, with the grant money.
Some of those projects include reconfiguration of the Route 51 interchange, manufacturing, updated housing and commercial buildings, updated zoning ordinances, pedestrian and vehicle safety measures, and other developments spearheaded by local committees, residents and officials, including the Aliquippa school board, city council and water authority, the city Economic Development Corporation, and others.
Wolf visited the East End Development Site in Aliquippa to see how state investments have helped the city to remove blighted properties and prepare the land near a Route 51 interchange for future business development and prepare to capitalize on the petrochemicals plant that Shell Chemicals is constructing a few miles from the city.
More than $7.7 million of the $11 million will support the East End Development Site.
Some of the investments made in Aliquippa to date include:
Grant and low-interest loan financing to perform environmental site assessments and remediation work at former industrial sites through the Industrial Sites Reuse Program.
Funding through the Blight Remediation Program to assist with blight remediation.
$7 million to reconfigure the Route 51 interchange adjacent to the East End Development site through the TIIF program.
$72,500 in Act 47 funding to support Aliquippa in its redevelopment efforts.
$365,000 in Keystone Communities funding to demolish commercial buildings at the East End Development site.
$500,000 to make pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements to the main corridor on Fifth Avenue through the Multi-Modal Transportation Program
$140,233 to complete site preparation and clearance on the Bricks site project.
$25,000 through the Municipal Assistance Program to update land-use regulations including the zoning ordinance.
More than $2.4 million in Neighborhood Partnership Funding via a donation from BNY Mellon to fund the redevelopment of Aliquippa.
Visiting Aliquippa reminded Wolf of his own town of York. Before getting into politics, the governor said he was involved in revitalizing that community.
“I got into politics because I was concerned about my own community, York,” Wolf said. “And I saw in Dwan the kind of leadership that every community really needs.
“It takes both state and local leadership to make projects like Aliquippa’s effective,” he said.
“There is an inside game and an outside game, and state is the outside game, and we need to do what we can do to help, but it really is a wonderful thing when you have leadership and the energy that you’re showing, Dwan, because Aliquippa early deserves to be back to where it was, and even better,” Wolf said. “And you’re doing that, and I’m proud to be a partner with you.”
Some during Wednesday’s briefing asked if gentrification could result from these revitalization efforts.
Wolf said having local people spearhead these projects will help keep the integrity of the community.
“Who’s in charge of this development? That’s going to make a really big difference,” he said. “They’re not just at the table, they are the table.”
Walker said as a life-long resident of Aliquippa, he and others committed to these projects will make sure gentrification doesn’t happen.
“Gentrification is not something we speak of,” he said. “Everybody in this city will have an equal opportunity to speak on anything that comes. We’re looking for partners, we’re not looking for bullies.
“So if you want to sit down and talk about how the future is going to be, we’re here to listen. But if you’re going to come in and take advantage of us, we’ve already had that happen,” Walker added. “I don’t know why our residents think gentrification is going to happen — it’s not.”
He called the projects and initiatives in the city “a renaissance of Aliquippa,” built on partnership and collaboration, and hope and possibility.”
“The state programs have helped usher in a renaissance in the city of Aliquippa,” Walker said.
The US Congress is an important battleground in the campaign to slow, stop, and reverse global warming induced catastrophic climate change. The dumping of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is overwhelming planet Earth.
The financial weight of the coal, oil, and gas industries and their Wall Street owners floods Capitol Hill with their thousands of lobbyists. They write legislation then lobby and threaten Congress to pass dozens of laws that transfer public funds to their industry. These funds are transferred in numerous ways – tax credits, depletion allowances, interest rebates, research funds, loan guarantees, amortization, foreign tax credits, oil spill deductions, income tax exemptions, credits for coal washing.
The carbon polluting industry’s control of Congress guarantees that taxpayers, and actually all citizens, directly subsidize global warming. And we are increasingly victimized by the effects of catastrophic climate change – increased hurricanes, floods, fires; rising ocean levels; melting arctic ice with consequent growing release of methane hydrates that accelerate global warming.
On July 28 Rep. Michael Doyle PA-18 introduced HR4758, co-sponsored by Rep. Conor Lamb PA-17, Mike Kelly PA-16, and Bill Huizenga MI-2. This bill “amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend and modify the section 45 credit for refined coal from steel industry fuel, and for other purposes.” This bill has not been printed yet, so the details are not yet available. (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr4758)
History was made on May 18, 2021. Ed Gainey secured the Democratic nomination for Pittsburgh mayor, almost certain to become the city’s firstever Black mayor. He ran on progressive policies, and to the left of incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto on policing. He focused his campaign on racial and economic inequalities, promising to do more to address these glaring issues in the Steel City.
While this moment is truly historic for Pittsburgh — a city and region that are overwhelmingly white, and have many documented instances of racism against Black people — there are also several other impressive electoral wins that deserve recognition.
Criminal justice reforms
Pittsburgh voters overwhelmingly passed a ban on no-knock warrants for Pittsburgh Police officers. “Yes” on the ban secured more than 81% of the vote. This initiative was inspired by Breonna Taylor, who was shot five times and killed by police officers after police entered her apartment on a noknock warrant.
Allegheny County voters also approved a ballot initiative that would limit the use of solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail. A “yes” on that question received 69% of the vote.
Additionally, out of nine open seats for Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, voters selected five candidates who were endorsed by a coalition of criminaljustice reform groups. Common Pleas Judges are responsible for overseeing trials for criminal, civil, and family cases and delivering sentencing.
The coalition said back in March that electing these candidates would help move reforms like reducing the use of cash bail, increasing diversionary programs and alternatives to carceral punishment, and other mechanisms to combat mass incarceration and racial and other demographic disparities in the system.
There were also victories at the Magisterial District Judge level. The Magisterial District Judge court is directly below Common Pleas and is responsible for assigning bail conditions, deciding eviction cases, and is a defendant’s first introduction to the state’s criminal judicial system. In Lawrenceville, candidate Xander Orenstein narrowly defeated incumbent Anthony Ceoffe on a platform of being more compassionate in eviction cases and limiting cash bail. Orenstein, if they were to win the general election, would become the state’s first nonbinary magistrate judge.
Jehosha Wright also won his race for Magisterial District Judge in the North Side, after receiving the backing of some criminal justice reformminded politicians.
Progressive victories over incumbents
On top of celebrating Gainey’s victory, which many progressive advocates are boosting, there were a series of other wins in smaller races that portend more momentum for progressives in Pittsburgh.
In Mount Oliver, JoAnna Taylor ousted Mount Oliver Mayor Frank Bernardini, a conservative Democratic incumbent who was seen last year with Democratic Mount Oliver council member Nick Viglione, who was sporting a MAGA hat at a Allegheny County Democratic Committee meeting. State Rep. Jessica Benham (DSouth Side) also congratulated Lisa Pietrusza for winning a spot on Mount Oliver Council, and Jamie Piotrowski for winning her election for Pittsburgh Public Schools board member.
“I am so thrilled about the progressive movement we are building in South Pittsburgh JoAnna, Jamie, & Lisa represent the hard organizing work we are doing in areas that don’t get much progressive political attention,” tweeted Benham on May 19.
By Candy Woodall Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau via Beaver County Times
Feb 8, 2021 – Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Monday officially entered the 2022 U.S. Senate race, vying for a hotly contested seat that could determine the chamber’s balance of power in the midterms.
The formal bid comes after Fetterman raised more than a $1 million in less than a month after he said he was eyeing a run.
“Thank you to all 35,000 of the folks who chipped in a few dollars and encouraged me to run for Senate, today I am excited to announce that I am running, and I am glad to have the support of people in all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties,” Fetterman, 51, said in a statement Monday.
He is running for a seat that will be left vacant by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, RLehigh Valley, who is retiring upon a selfimposed term limit.
Analysts say it’s the top U.S. Senate race to watch in the 2022 midterms.
“The sole tossup Senate race to start the 2022 cycle is Pennsylvania,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the nonpartisan newsletter at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
The U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the most expensive in the country and could eclipse the $164 million spent in 2016 when Toomey was challenged by Democrat Katie McGinty.
McGinty defeated Fetterman in the 2016 Democratic primary.
A rising profile for Fetterman
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman went on a tour of all 67 Pennsylvania counties to get feedback from residents on recreational marijuana legalization. He is in favor of legalizing the drug.
At the time, he was mostly known in western Pennsylvania, where he was the mayor of Braddock, an old, bluecollar industrial town Fetterman was working to rehabilitate.
Since then, Fetterman has become better known to voters statewide after running a successful campaign to become Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor in 2018. He was also a frequent guest on national news programs during the pandemic and 2020 presidential election, and he has built a robust social media following.
DEC 8, 2020 – WASHINGTON — The architects of a newly unveiled 10year, $600 billion climate plan to revitalize Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley region are moving forward with a difficult task of building political willpower in Washington while gaining the trust of rural communities tied to the coal and natural gas industries, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told a group of sustainable development advocates Tuesday.
That coalitionbuilding — a communications strategy to be forged over the next six weeks among academic institutions in Pittsburgh and seven other cities — is a critical step toward executing the plan Mr. Peduto described as both idealistic and grounded in reality.
It is also necessary as a divided Congress gears up for a fight next year over PresidentElect Joe Biden’s proposal to pull the country out of an economic downturn while investing in clean energy development. Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans for a COVID19 relief bill have dragged for months, raising the question of whether Mr. Biden’s plan could garner enough support.
“We have been in touch during the [plan’s] research phase with the Biden campaign and their ‘Build Back Better’ authors,” Mr. Peduto said, referring to PresidentElect Joe Biden’s jobs and economic recovery plan.
Peduto joins mayors from W.Va., Ohio, Ky. to call for public/private support in climate-friendly industrial growth
Since Mr. Biden won the White House last month, Mr. Peduto and other local officials “have had contact with the transition team,” he said, “working to see what we can try to be able to get on the radar in Washington during the first 100 days of a new administration, while simultaneously working with grassroots organizations.”
OCT 15 2020 – Though few will dare admit it, much of America is preparing to celebrate the end of Donald Trump. Not only would his defeat bring the curtain down on an administration they regard as the worst in modern US history. In their eyes, it would also dispel the MAGA hat-wearing, militia-sympathising deplorables who make up the US president’s base.
It would be a moment of redemption in which not only Mr Trump, but Trumpism also, will be written off as an aberration. After four years of unearned hell, America could pick up where it left off.
That would be a natural reaction. It would also be a blunder. Should Mr Trump lose next month, it would be with the support of up to 45 per cent of expected voters — between roughly 60m and 70m Americans. Even now when Joe Biden’s poll lead is hardening into double digits, a Trump victory cannot be discounted.
Even if he loses, it is highly unlikely to match the sweeping repudiation that Walter Mondale suffered against Ronald Reagan in 1984, or Barry Goldwater to Lyndon Johnson in 1964. America is too militantly divided for that.
A victorious Biden camp would need to take three concerns into account. The first is that the Republican party is Mr Trump’s, even if he departs the scene. Five years ago, many evangelical voters still felt distaste for Mr Trump’s libertine personality. They quickly learned he was the kind of pugilist they wanted.
The likely Supreme Court confirmation next week of Amy Coney Barrett, and that of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch before her, are testaments to that. America’s Christian right has embraced its inner Vladimir Lenin — the end justifies the means.
The same applies to professional Republicans. Self-preservation might imply they would distance themselves from Mr Trump as his likely defeat drew nearer. The opposite has been happening. As an Axios study shows elected Republicans have become steadily more Trumpian over the past four years.
Partly this was because a handful of moderate representatives either retired in Mr Trump’s first two years, or were ejected by hardliners in primaries. Mostly it was because of the visceral power of Trumpism. It turns out there is not much grassroots passion for fiscal conservatism in today’s Republican party — if there ever was. The impetus is with those who fear that America will cease to be America, partly because of the US’s growing ethnic diversity.
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The second point is that America’s information culture is far more degraded today than in 2016. Democrats often blame Mr Trump’s victory on the Russians. Maybe so. But whatever disinformation Russia spread was dwarfed by home-grown material. According to a study this week by the German Marshall Fund, the amount of fake, or disguised fake, news that Americans consume on their social media has more than tripled since 2016.
Facebook is a much greater vehicle for disinformation today. More importantly, US consumer demand for news that is either distorted or plain false — about the pandemic, for example — continues to grow. A dark conspiracy cult such as QAnon would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. Today it reaches tens of millions of Americans.
The evermore disruptive impact of digital technology on public culture makes governing increasingly difficult. A Biden presidency’s first priority would be to roll out a national coronavirus strategy to flatten America’s curve. Little else can happen before that.
Much of its success would depend on Americans following rules such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds and complying with contact tracers. But a Trump defeat is unlikely to banish the cultural divisions he has stoked. Large numbers of Americans say they will reject a vaccine and view masks as a surrender of their freedom. Mr Biden’s fate will partly hinge on the degree to which he can marginalise those sentiments.
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His final concern should be on the conditions that gave rise to Trumpism. The ingredients are still there. Hyper-partisanship, blue-collar deaths of despair, the China threat and middle-class insecurity are all worse, or as bad, as four years ago. Most of those looking to follow Mr Trump, such as Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, or Tom Cotton, the Arkansas senator, are harder-line versions of him without the caprice.
The fixes to America’s problems are manifold, complex, and painstaking. A vaccine will not suddenly banish the pandemic. Nor would Mr. Trump’s defeat magically bring an end to Trumpism.