Last night went just about as well as it could possibly go for progressives. The more progressive candidate won in Pennsylvania when Joe Sestak ousted long-time Republican, short-time Democrat Arlen Specter. Clearly, a win for progressives.
Democratic candidate Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns to hold on to Jack Murtha’s old seat for the Democrats. Critz is certainly not your ideal progressive, but between those two options obviously progressives preferred Critz. Two for two.
Speaking of non-progressive Democrats, there is hardly a less progressive Democrat in the country than Blanche Lincoln. She had a credible progressive candidate against her in Bill Halter. Progressives didn’t just vote for Halter, they actively campaigned for him. And he forced Lincoln into a run-off, where she has a much smaller chance of winning. Three for three.
Then in Kentucky, Rand Paul, tea party favorite, won the Republican primaries against Trey Grayson. How is that a win for progressives? Well, in two ways. First, he beat the establishment candidate hand-picked by Mitch McConnell. I’d much rather have a wild-card libertarian in Congress than a party line Republican who is going to blindly vote for corporate interests every time. Second, Paul actually agrees with progressives on many important issues, including auditing the Fed, getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and disdain for the Patriot Act. Between Paul and Grayson, it’s a no-brainer for progressives, you would much rather have Paul. Four for four.
You can even make the case that progressives actually went five for five because it is actually better that there is a run-off in Arkansas than Halter winning outright. Why? Because Blanche Lincoln has a strong amendment reforming derivatives in the Senate. It’s the only truly progressive thing she’s ever done and was obviously brought out when she got a challenger from the left in her primary. If she had won or lost, she might have jettisoned that amendment since it was a political trick she didn’t need anymore. Now she has to keep pretending she cares for another three weeks, by which time we might have already concluded financial reform and her amendment might actually pass.
I already see some articles saying this was a loss for Obama since he endorsed Specter and Lincoln, and hence a blow against Democrats. That’s laughable. Obama endorsing establishment candidates who were more right-wing than their challengers was his problem, not ours. Maybe he should learn something from that. Here’s what’s clear about last night – the establishment lost and progressives won.
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