SocraticGadfly: Why endorse Beto O'Rourke if you have a DSA rose?

September 17, 2018

Why endorse Beto O'Rourke if you have a DSA rose?

This is largely adapted from my "Is Beto a ConservaDem," but I was getting to the point where I thought this needed a separate pullout — and I wanted to give it one.

People who are knowledgeable about this year's Texas US Senate showdown between Robert Francis O'Rourke and Rafael Edward Cruz know, as noted in my original post about him this year, that Beto is a squish on health care issues. He has called single-payer "one way to get there" on health care access, stresses "access for all," and never signed on as a co-sponsor of HR 676, the House's "Medicare for All" bill. He's elsewhere discussed "universal health care" without defining it.

Per that original post, I partially agree that HR 676 had the flaw of not including for-profit hospitals. That said, per the Texas Observer, he said he couldn't support Bernie's bill in the Senate, either. Why? He wants everyone to have both a copay and a premium payment. I might "accept" that as part of a compromise to get something passed, but making that my starting point? No way.

On Facebook, others have challenged him too, including Green Party Maryland Senate candidate (and MD) Margaret Flowers. Elsewhere, Flowers says that Bernie's bill is itself considerably weaker than the House bill, and Beto can't even support it. She also provides the background to HB 676, including explaining why Conyers' bill excludes investor-owned for-profit facilities and other things.

And with that, let's jump into the angle behind this post's header.

Sema Hernandez — maybe to remain a good-graces Democrat to prepare for running against John Cornyn in 2020 — as of Sept. 3 decided to drink the Kool-Aid herself. See the letter for details.

Sorry, Sema, but not buying.

Why doesn't Beto flat-out endorse HB 676 right now, if this is the case?

Or, why didn't he ever create his own bill, as he told the Texas Observer he was going to?

Or, at a minimum, why doesn't he endorse S 1804 now, and retract his previous dissing of it?

And, per my link above, given that Beto has already rejected Bernie's bill, I see no reason to believe that he would change his stance and then endorse it next year if he becomes a senator.

Would you believe him, if he were instead running for House re-election, and he said, "Oh, next year, I'll finally back HR 676"?

Not me. I stopped believing in Santa Claus long ago.

Beto ALSO promised, last year, to put forth his own Medicare for All bill. Still waiting on that, too. You're also still waiting, aren't you, Sema?

Further evidence to support my cause? O"Rourke not walking the walk on marijuana legalization, decriminalization or anything close to that.

Sema, I think, knows better. She's wanting to run against Cornyn (good luck on that, if you get the nomination; Cornyn isn't personally disliked the way Cruz is) and so is keeping her Democratic Party bread buttered and gunpowder dry. And, that explains the problem that DSA Democrats face.

If she doesn't know better, and is actually now taking Beto at his word, then we have a serious error in judgment already presenting itself.

Beyond that, Our Revolution's Harris County branch has refused to endorse Beto, as David Bruce Collins noted. In an update, he notes that Our Revolution, Texas Gulf Coast Region, though not having a website link, has made basically the same endorsements — and lack thereof with O'Rourke (and Lupe Valdez and Mike Collier). Collins adds that normally, a group like this doesn't endorse without being asked. But, that's on Beto, still. He knows Our Revolution's roots, and probably, if he was thinking about it, realized that his head fake on "universal health care" wouldn't pass the sniff test.

Sema, even with political ambitions, you could have kept radio silence rather than endorsing Beto. If you do run against Cornyn in two years, people like Our Revolution — the type of people that are supposed to be your focus — may well ask you about this. (It should be noted that, as of the time this post was written, Our Revolution Texas and active local chapters within Texas, outside of the Harris County one, had not issued general election endorsement lists.)

Then, there's this, along related lines:
Sorry, Scap,  but as you'll see in me tweeting the link to this blog post back to you, that's not true. I note above, of course, that O'Rourke doesn't support Bernie's bill, and even if he did, it's quite arguably weaker than HR676 anyway.

Also "shock me" that as of March 14, 2019, Beto is STILL SCHWAFFLING on supporting single payer, per a transcript of a radio interview in Iowa.

And, there's two other points here.

One is that Beto is a ConservaDem at worst, a ModeratoDem at best, per the header. He's certainly not a DSA Dem, whether official like Scap, or either quasi-official or official, like Sema.

The second is that DSA Dems are still Dems at bottom line. If they're activist DSAs, they're presumably activist Dems at bottom line, refusing to take the ultimate pressure step of publicly calling for a candidate undervote to pressure that person.

To the degree that icons in a person's Twitter handle mean anything, that's why I have a sunflower, not a red rose. And, if the Green Party cracks up enough for me to drop that sunflower, I'd be more likely to add a red flag than that red rose, if you catch my drift.

(And, as I have noted before, besides the Greens, the Socialist Party USA exists as an actual political party of the Left.)

This also illustrates the tyranny the duopoly — and duopoly-based thinking — continue to have.

Thus, just as a Beto, like a Dear Leader, needs to be pushed from the left, DSAers like Sema Hernandez also need to be pushed from the left. We've seen this in one other case already. DSA Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a hasty retreat from staking out even a mild pro-BDS stance. If you DSA folks are going to fold on major issues, at bottom, aren't you just another subgroup of current Democrats? (Hernandez, in her 2018 platform, did say she wanted to "end the wars." That's also more than Beto wants to do. More on this in another piece.)

See Brains' own good piece from last week, and our conversation, for largely similar, but not exactly the same, thoughts on some of these issues. Per that conversation, I can't think of any reason why, other than running against Cornyn and wanting a Gilberto Hinojosa head-pat, that Hernandez is staking out this position.

Let's put this another, stark, blunt and snarky way.

Let's say our country did NOT have Roe v. Wade-based reproductive choice freedoms. Let's say some Democrats were trying to pass that in the House. And, one House member said, "I favor getting there (Iron Stache!) but I don't support that bill because it forces certain hospitals into this." Then a Senator proposed a weaker bill, but one that might get us some sort of reproductive choice freedoms. And this House member said, "I favor getting there, but this bill doesn't make women pay enough for reproductive choice freedom."

Let's say this person then said, "Elect me to the Senate, and I'll (I guess) support that weaker bill then."

You buying that, Sema?

Otherwise, especially as I get closer to certain "finish lines," I'm getting closer to being a single-issue voter on this substance. I didn't buy vacuous Obama promises in 2008 and I'm damn sure not buying vacuous O'Rourke promises in 2018. And, that's why I remain officially not a Democrat. Also per convo with Brains, it's why I've blogged occasionally about the Socialist Party USA; Greens, on this whole "decentralization" nuttery, you need to nationally get your act together.

This is also not to say that all DSAers — including past, present and possible future candidates — will "cave" to the traditional Democratic hierarchy. Nor is it to say that those who give a bit here are there are "caving." But ... when you give more than a bit, and on a blank check, you could at least be charged with a cave.

Speaking of that? Some Hillbot types aren't all wrong in talking about usage. The DSAers actually are NOT "democratic socialists." If you go to a place like Wikipedia, you'll see that, as one moves gradually left politically, you have "social democrats," then "democratic socialists."

Hernandez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al are all "social democrats." They're not "democratic socialists." None of them advocated for government ownership of any means of production. The same is true of Bernie Sanders.

Note: None of this is meant to crush DSAers, especially young ones running for office. You're better than non-DSAers — including better than the ones you endorse to suck up to the DSA establishment. But, you're not really democratic socialists.

I am. And, I do, in at least some cases, support the government ownership of a few "means of production."

I support a National Health System like Great Britain's. I don't think single-payer will be enough by itself to get capitalism out of our health care.

I support converting the U.S. Postal Service back to the pre-1971 directly government owned U.S. Post Office.

I support having that Post Office be allowed to do postal banking, but we don't need to restrict that to a quasi-private Postal Service.

I support 49 other states following North Dakota and creating something similar to the Bank of North Dakota, only with that bank's original powers, not with later trimming.

I'm a democratic socialist.

You all are social democrats.

And, with that, I'll stop there, but will likely do a pullout of this into a separate piece in the future.

I'm a leftist, at least for America. But, yet, a skeptical leftist.

And, this is all coming further to roost in the Twittersphere as Donut Twitter touts Beto 2020 more and more, and Sema and Scap are silently having to eat some words.

Then, there's this, Dec. 11:
Sorry, Sema, and I'm not alone on this, but ... I never saw a public, unequivocal support of single payer, rather than universal health care, by Beto after you endorsed him.

The top line of the tweet is the most important, though: "I voted for him after all he was the nominee." Folks, I can't find better proof of how DSA roses will remain Democrats at bottom line.

Unlike the likes of Sema and Scap, not all DSA roses drank the Kool-Aid. Dan Derozier, Houston DSA elections committee chair, in a Chronicle-run retrospective, notes clearly that Beto stood for Beto and little else. So true. Even worse than Obama, he left little "apparatus" to build on. (Derozier dodges Beto's stance, or lack thereof, on specific positions, though. He's just criticized as a values-free campaigner without noting WHAT values he was free of.)

Update, Dec. 17: Scap now claims to have refuted me. My quote tweet back:
In my first quote-tweet back, I noted that Beto's first words in that video use his old trick of conflating "single payer" and "universal health care."

Plus? Claiming to like Sanders' bill, while attacking a key portion of it — no co-pays — is not "liking it." That said, every non-single payer Texas House Dem in that piece offered up some version of lies or bullshit.

On Beto's stance on Bernie's bill? Let's use an analogy.

It's like saying, "I like your jelly donuts, except for them having too much jelly." Does that person really like them?

If that's Scap's proof, well, then, it's only because he drank, not so much Beto's Kool-Aid, but Sema's Kool-Aid. And, Sema brewed up her own batch of Beto Kool-Aid with a shot of her own sidebar flavor because she wants to be a player in the 2020 Democratic Senate primary.

That's her biz. Doesn't make her claim, or Scap's, about Beto any more true.

It's no wonder that Actual Flatticus rightly laughed at many roses. I am not sure he singled Scap out by name like he did Esha, but he may have.

David Sirota now notes how often Beto voted against the majority of House Democrats in his Congressional career.


As Beto continues to get hammered by David Sirota, Norman Solomon, Elizabeth Breunig, Zaid Jilani and others (with me adding my own tidbits) over his Congressional voting record, taking money from the oil and gas industry for that, taking money from the FIRE sector for that, refusing to walk the walk on marijuana reform laws (I checked; that blog post of mine was before Sema officially endorsed Beto) and more, the following questions arise:
1. Did Sema Hernandez know all that? (She should have; she saw the first version of this ConservaDem piece as it was updated at that time, without the oil and gas info, before her endorsement, if I recall my Twitter timeline correctly.)
2. Why did she make that endorsement, other than moving into Just.Another.Politician.™ territory?
3. Will she own up to being, in any way, Just.Another.Politician.™?
4. Will she, if worried about fellow Roses or about the Our Revolution folks in Houston and elsewhere who refused to endorse Beto, try to rescind her endorsement?

1. Yes, as noted.
2. For that reason, as noted.
3. No, because that would undercut 1 and 2, IMO.
4. Call me back in about 12 months.

These are all issues that hold true whether or not Beto allegedly gave an explicit promise to back single-payer (not the "universal health care" fudge) after she endorsed him. (BTW, based on his actual 2018 history with Sanders' bill, I don't believe such an explicit promise was made.)

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