The Progressives Aren’t Progressive

What To Expect When You’re Electing




Despite the buzz that many Democratic presidential candidates have individually generated, and the romanticized images that portray many of these candidates as the new, progressive faces of the Democratic party, their politics and records often couldn’t be further from the “progressive” tag.

For this article’s purposes, a true progressive is someone whose reform attempts go further than putting a “coexist” sticker on their bumper. Here’s why a few of the potential and affirmed Democratic candidates for the 2020 election do not actually represent a progressive vision.

Let’s start with Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. Luckily for me, O’Rourke himself admits it. In fact, when asked if he considers himself a progressive, O’Rourke said he’s “not big on labels,” words reminiscent of a teenage boy shying away from committing to the girl he’s been “talking to” for nine months.

If O’Rourke’s fear of taking a stand against injustice isn’t enough to dissuade you from supporting him, consider the fact that he’s entrenched in the pockets of the oil industry as well as many large corporations whose interests are certainly against environmental justice, the wellbeing of working-class people and other issues important to achieving a progressive vision.

In addition to O’Rourke’s campaign finances, his voting record and congressional activity suggest he’s no better than any Clintonian, centrist Democrat, having supported increases in military spending and opposed various legislative efforts at achieving a single-payer healthcare system.

Next up, we have Kamala Harris. If I told you that at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement a cop would run for president as a progressive for the Democratic party and actually receive support from its increasingly liberal base, would you believe me? Regardless, for this election, we’ve got the next best thing; an aggressive prosecutor. Aside from her 21-year career fulfilling her duties as such, Harris has an atrocious record from her time as attorney general of California.

According to her own book from 2015, Harris believes that we should not reduce prison sentences or incarceration rates. Her time as the district attorney of San Francisco confirms this view, because during her term convictions rose more than 15 percent as a result of her punitive philosophies. While attorney general, Harris opposed a federal order to expand parole programs that would have eased the overcrowding seen in California’s prisons, on the grounds that it would reduce the cheap labor pool offered by the current system.

Harris later claimed the attorneys in her office who made this argument on her behalf do not represent her values, but how are we supposed to believe her when she has mixed feelings on the death penalty, opposed legislation to increase the accountability of police officers and made a career out of locking people up since 1990?

The laundry list of regressive, harsh actions and initiatives that Harris has supported and advanced as a prosecutor and as attorney general certainly disqualifies her from being considered progressive.

Finally, we have Cory Booker, who might as well be a Republican. In his time as Senator, Booker has served the interests military industrial complex, charter schools, the pharmaceutical interest, and other dominant corporations. By voting consistently voting in favor of an ever-expanding military budget, and against universal healthcare initiatives from the likes of Bernie Sanders, as well as against public education. That last part about education is particularly grotesque, because Booker has been on the front line in the fight against public education. Booker has publicly supported and collaborated with the current Secretary of Education and notorious conservative Betsy DeVos. Again, the list of woes found in Booker’s voting record and in his time as mayor of Newark undoubtedly suggest he’s not just anti-progressive, he’s a Republican in sheep’s clothing.

Lastly, all three of these candidates have demonstrated an unwavering support for the Israeli government, and no recognition of Palestinian humanity. All three of these candidates have received financial and public support from AIPAC, the highly influential Israeli lobbying group. All three of these candidates have also demonstrated their support for Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Israeli Likud party, best known for his dehumanizing rhetoric when describing Palestinians, violating the rights of Palestinians and advancing the apartheid-like nature of the state.

Even scarier is that Booker is currently pushing through Congress legislation that would make it illegal to boycott goods as a protest against the Israeli government as a direct attack on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which aims to discourage U.S. and corporate support for Israel. In the end, all three of these candidates have made it more than clear that they will support Israel through its every human rights violation, so long as it is a profitable venture for the United States.

Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have not been progressives in the past, are not progressives now, and would not be progressives if they ascended to the presidency. As even more candidates come into the fold and try to misrepresent their views as progressive in order to appease a left-moving base, I urge you to actually research these candidates and hold them accountable before parading them on your Instagram stories.