#ALLofUS2016, along with still more former members of the Bernie 2016 campaign are involved in the creation of yet another group targeting elected Democrats. We Will Replace You is another supposed liberal or progressive group looking to take out sitting Democrats from Congress in 2018. Instead of focusing their attention on the Republicans who control our federal government, they are instead choosing to pose a threat to elected Democrats.
Claire Sandberg is one of the co-founders of We Will Replace You. Ms. Sandberg was the Director of Distributing Organizing for Bernie 2016. Kenneth Pennington, listed as an advisor to We Will Replace You, was the Press Secretary for Senator Sanders before going Bernie 2016 as the Digital Director. Once again an organization has arisen with substantial connections to Senator Sanders that is dedicated to removing sitting Democrats from office.
“We Will Replace You is the most visible effort gearing up to back primary challenges from the left.”
Their website asks,
Here is the answer,
“Millions are rising up in resistance, but too many Democrats have been enabling and collaborating with him instead,”
We Will Replace You calls on sitting elected Democrats to,
“Do everything you can to Resist Trump, or we will replace you with someone who will,”
Like other groups such as Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and Brand New Congress, that are dedicated to mounting primary challenges against sitting Democrats, We Will Replace You is long on rhetoric but short on the identification and recruitment of actual candidates running under their banners. The group says that,
“Our intention is to spend the first few months of the Trump administration pushing Democrats to do more to fight Trump on the critical early battles, and then later in 2017 announce next steps for supporting primary challengers to Democrats who have not shaped up.”
We Will Replace You has identified Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL) and red state Democratic Senators Claire McKaskill, (D-MI) and Jon Tester, (D-MT) as being worthy primary challengers for certain sins such as not,
”Fighting the confirmation of Trump’s extreme right-wing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
They have also targeted the three Democratic Senators who voted yes on the confirmation of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and the fourteen Democratic Senators who voted yes on the confirmation of CIA Director, Mike Pompeo.
No takers have yet stepped forward to run as primary challengers under the We Will Replace You banner against any sitting Democratic Senator.
Consider the present make-up of the United States Senate consisting of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, along with two Independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both of whom caucus with the Democrats. So long as all of the Republicans vote yes, there is nothing that the Democratic caucus can do to stop a confirmation vote on any of the Republican President’s nominees. The reason for this is that in November, 2013 the Democratic controlled Senate did away with the filibuster as to all presidential appointments other than Supreme Court nominees.
Predictably, the Senate vote on January 30, 2017, to approve Rex Tillerson as the new Secretary of State included all 52 Republicans. This means that despite the three Democrats who voted yes, and the yes vote from Independent Senator King, Rex Tillerson would have been confirmed even if those four Senators had voted no.
Former Kansas Congressman, Mike Pompeo, was confirmed by the Senate as the new Director of the CIA on January 23, 2017, receiving 51 Republican votes, the only no Republican vote coming from Rand Paul of Kentucky. It is true that fourteen Democrats and the Independent Angus King also voted to confirm Congressman Pompeo but once again, had all of those votes been no, the result would not have changed.
As to the procedure that has now led to the confirmation of the now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, We Will Replace You is wrong in their conclusions that sitting Democratic Senators are in some way at fault for failing to do everything possible to block the nomination. It is true that the actions by the Republican Senate majority denying a hearing or a vote on Judge Merrick Garland was shameful and a never before politically motivated effort to denying a sitting President the constitutional duty to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate Democrats did filibuster the Gorsuch nomination exceeding the 40 vote threshold required to keep a Supreme Court nomination from proceeding to a final vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to the Democratic filibuster by doing the unthinkable, breaking Senate tradition unleashing the “nuclear option” allowing the Gorsuch nomination to proceed to a final vote with a simple majority. Justice Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2017 with all 52 Republicans voting yes along with two yes votes from Democratic Senators. Had Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp voted no on the Gorsuch nomination, he would still have been confirmed.
We Will Replace You regards these votes for the confirmation of the administration’s nominees as unforgivable, in that,
“Any Democrats who would give legitimacy or support to Trump do not represent us and must be replaced by people who will stand up for our lives, our values, and our democracy.”
Another reason identified by We Will Replace You for mounting primary challenges against sitting Democrats is that,
“We can’t trust Democrats to lead the resistance if they are in the pocket of the same corporate interests: Wall Street, fossil fuel CEOs, and Big Pharma.”
The language appearing on the group’s website about all out resistance to the administration, of standing tall to accomplish the defeat of the Gorsuch nomination, and not trusting Democrats in the pockets of the corporations, all seem to be subterfuge. The real goal of We Will Replace You might very well be a populist takeover of the Democratic Party by extremists, like the Tea Party now controlling the Republican Party and holding our government at the federal level hostage.
Claire Sandberg a co-founder, of We Will Replace You, speaking about the group’s threat that Democrats who do not engage in total resistance against the administration will face replacement, has said that it is,
“A high bar, and one that not even Sanders has met.“
We Will Replace You always looks the other way ignoring the fact that their inspiration, Senator Sanders, has not committed himself to total resistance against the administration. Keep in mind that Sanders has voted yes to confirm John Kelly as Homeland Security Director, yes to confirm James Mattis as Defense Secretary, and yes to confirm David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Most recently, Senator Sanders failed to cast a vote for or against Heather Wilson who was confirmed as Secretary of the Air Force with 76 yes votes, 51 from Republicans, a yes vote from Angus King, the Independent Senator from Maine, plus 24 yes votes from Democrats.
Consider too the February 28, 2017 appearance by the Independent Socialist from Vermont when Senator Sanders told Chuck Told that,
“I think it would be absurd for democrats to say that anything that Trump says or does or that republicans say or do, we are automatically an opposition. I think that is counterproductive politically. I think it`s counterproductive to the best interest of the American people.”
Senator Sanders has consistently indicated that he would work with the new administration on infrastructure repair telling Chuck Todd on the same February 28, 2017 MTP Daily broadcast that if,
“He comes forward in a sensible way, let`s go forward together.”
This is the same statement of cooperation with the administration on infrastructure made January 11, 2017, by Senator Sanders on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. In addition to trashing the Democratic Party and being encouraged to do so by Mika Brzezinski, who admitted that she supported and voted for Sanders, the Senator from Vermont also spoke about the possible areas of common ground with the new President saying that,
“If he is prepared to work with us on a trade policy which works for the American worker and not just the CEO of large multinational corporations, let’s work together on those areas.”
Recently, on April 25, 2017, Sanders repeated his willingness to work with the administration on trade saying that,
“If Trump wants to develop a rational trade policy that demands that corporations start investing in this country instead of China, that’s something that we can work on.”
Senator Sanders has also been supportive of the new belligerent President’s handling of foreign policy. Sanders did not openly condemn the strike on the Syrian Airbase only criticizing the President for failing to obtain permission from Congress before acting. The Vermont Senator has praised the President for his policy of abdicating responsibility for dealing with North Korea to China, saying that the President is doing the right thing. Does anyone recall the Republican criticism of President Obama whom they constantly accused of “leading from behind”?
Example after example exists beginning before the inauguration of the new President where Senator Sanders has shown a willingness to work with the administration, agreement with the administration’s actions manifested by yes votes for the President’s nominees, and through public statements in support of the administration’s action. This would seem to be in direct conflict with the warning by We Will Replace You to Democrats that failure to fight the administration by resisting the agenda “every step of the way” will result in a primary challenge.
A movement to tarnish sitting Democratic Senators based on the belief that they are in the pockets of corporate interests, such as “big pharma”, was recently manifested using false claims arising out of the Senate’s votes on a non-binding joint Congressional resolution that could not be vetoed or signed by the President,
“Setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2017 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2018 through 2026.”
The resolution passed the Senate on January 12, 2017 getting 51 Republican votes in favor with 48 votes against. 47 no votes came from the Democratic caucus with one no vote coming from Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein of California did not vote as she was unavailable recovering from a medical procedure. The House approved the measure on January 13, 2017, with 227 Republican votes and all 189 Democrats voting casting no votes.
As part of the Senate’s proposed amendment process to the budgetary resolution, SA 178, the Klobuchar Amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Sanders, intended, among other things, to allow Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The Amendment also included language to move Congress towards allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. SA 178 was voted down never making it into the final Resolution that the entire Democratic caucus voted against.
Despite all of these facts, the supporters of the We Will Replace You movement went on the attack falsely claiming that the Democratic Senators who voted against the Klobuchar Amendment, prevented Bernie Sanders from moving legislation forward that would have lowered the cost of prescription drugs. The 13 Democratic Senators who voted against the Klobuchar Amendment are now threatened with primary challenges. Many believe the headlines in this regard to be manufactured and misleading political theatre.
Even if the Klobuchar Amendment had passed, it would not have succeeded in lowering the costs of prescription drugs because the Republican controlled Congress has no interest in doing so. Then there is the mind numbing reality that even if the Amendment had passed, every single Senator in the Democratic caucus would still have voted against the Resolution that would have incorporated the Amendment within it. As to the provisions relating to allowing the importation of prescription drugs, that cannot happen without Congressional action repealing the laws banning the importation or reimportation of prescription drugs. In other words, without specific legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, the ban would stay in place unaffected by a non-binding Congressional budgetary resolution.
Waleed Shahid is listed on the We Will Replace You website as a co-founder and “#ALLofUS” is displayed on the We Will Replace You website. According to The Nation, Mr. Shahid is a founder of #AllofUS.
The #ALLofUS2016 website invites voters to take a pledge that includes a promise to,
Writing for the Nation on May 10, 2016, in an article entitled It’s Time For a Tea Party of the Left, Mr. Shahid said that the 2016 success Senator Bernie Sanders had in,
“His primary race should encourage others to challenge establishment Democrats from the left.”
Shalid admitted that,
“The rise of the Sanders campaign has also shown the appeal of a populist platform with white working-class voters who do not typically refer to themselves as progressives—or even Democrats.”
We Will Replace You and other similar Bernie Sanders inspired groups, are clearly emulating the extremists from the right and the results from their activities will be harmful. Looking at recent history, the,
“Tea Party activists focused on challenging GOP incumbents in primaries managed to sometimes replace a lawmaker with someone more conservative, they also lost winnable general election races.”
Self identified Progressives who are focusing attention on elected Democrats that do not measure up to their personal standards of being far enough to the left should pay more attention to the recent Tea Party driven history of the Republican Party.
“For every Mike Lee or Ted Cruz, both tea party-backed candidates who took on the GOP establishment before knocking off Democratic opponents in Senate races, there have been cautionary tales, like Sharron Angle and Richard Mourdock, who fumbled away seats Republicans expected to win.”
Right wing media, such as Newsmax, jumped on the band wagon promoting the activities of We Will Replace You. Michael Sainato and the Jared Kushner connected Observer, eagerly jumped for joy to report this latest discord among Democrats as it related to a possible primary challenger to Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The RT Today collaborator, Cenk Uygur, through TYT, ran a video on March 2, 2017, promoting the We Will Replace You intent to challenge Senator Joe Manchin.
The idea that “too many Democrats have been enabling and collaborating” with the administration has been proven without any doubt to be ludicrous. Even full blown, total, resistance cannot stop the Republican Speaker of the House from getting his way or the Republican Senate Majority Leader from pushing through the Administration’s appointees, including a Supreme Court nominee. The demand for Democrats to throw themselves onto their swords otherwise be labeled an enabler or a collaborator, is unreasonable. The Republicans, along with voters on the far left who refused to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee or for Democratic candidates for Congress, in truth are the enablers and the collaborators.
These divisive threats being made towards elected Democrats by groups such as We Will Replace You, and the other groups dedicated to the removal of elected Democrats from office, show a disrespect for the political independence of elected Democrats who are best in touch with the desires of their constituencies. They disavow the democratic process as to sitting Democrats who fail to cast the right votes, or who fail to act in accordance with their sliding scale of resistance. Threatening sitting Democrats with primary challenges if they do not toe the line behind a Bernie Sanders inspired draconian list of “progressive” demands so stringent that not even Sanders himself can meet, does not seem like a recipe for a coming together in a Democratic Party Kumbaya. The activities by We Will Replace You, and other similar groups, are a threat to elected Democrats. We must question on whose side they really are on.