But today's fog is only slightly thicker than the fog that beset the entire month of November 2018. Now, in December, when the post–Election Day fog is clearing, all those Progressives giddy about a new Democratic majority in Congress are seeing that even candidates who campaigned left are now lurching to the right before they're even sworn in.
Fact is, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. O'Rourke runs with the New Democrat Coalition, a group of staunchly pro–Big Business Democrats who prefer working with their Republican colleagues to working for working people.
Another fact is, as Jimmy Dore reports in the video above, his replacement in TX-16, Veronica Escobar, has also announced that she is joining the New Democrats. So are two Texas Democrats who defeated Republican incumbents last month: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in District 7 (West Houston) and Colin Allred in 32 (North Dallas). They join Joaquin Castro, Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, and Marc Veasey as NDC members of Texas.
Dore also does yeo-person's work, bordering on actual journalism, in analyzing the pro-corporate tendencies of Democrats in Congress over the last 20-plus years. He cites, at length, an October 2010 article from Pro Publica detailing the Clintonian origins of the New Democrats and the damage their bipartisanship had done up to then. A couple of weeks after the article was posted, the clock ran out on that Democratic majority, and the Tea Party wave sent in the clowns.
Even during the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress, with a Democrat in the White House, they enacted virtually no progressive legislation; they repackaged Mitt Romney's gift to Big Insurance as Obama's "new" health care plan.
Flash forward to now: Even with the addition of a few strong Progressives, the 116th Congress may have a different look—younger, browner, queerer, more female, more ecumenical—but it will still act like the 111th. If anything, centrist Democrats of the late 2010s look even more like the moderate Republicans of the 1960s and '70s. They will consider serving corporate interests the first bullet-point in their job description.
To prevent the New Democrats from repeating those errors and fumbling away all that electoral good will, Congressional Progressives will need guts of steel, a strong sense of unity, and the will to shame (loudly and frequently) their neoliberal colleagues into doing right by the People.
The Part That Jimmy Missed
None of the pull-quotes used in Dore's 20-minute rant included this rather chilling portion, which illustrates how, as early as 2006, the New Democrats set out to make their agenda and their strategic approach more like that of the Republicans:
When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 they promised to usher in a new era that would end the excesses of what they labeled a Republican "culture of corruption." One of their prime targets was the K Street Project, in which the Republican congressional leadership placed political operatives in lobbying jobs so they could direct money from big business to GOP campaigns in exchange for access to lawmakers for their clients. The project collapsed after Democrats assumed power and several Republican congressmen, staffers, and lobbyists were convicted on corruption charges.
Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind, one of the New Democrats' vice-chairs, was among those who campaigned for ethics reform in 2006. "Pay-to-play politics have no place in Congress," he said at the time.
Today, however, many of the same techniques and tactics that formed the basis of the K Street Project are still in use, this time by Democrats. While Democratic House leaders haven't tried to place operatives in key positions at K Street firms or court business interests as openly as their predecessors, various coalitions within the party have stepped forward to fill the K Street Project vacuum. The Blue Dog Coalition, composed of 54 lawmakers from primarily rural areas, is the best known. But the New Democrat Coalition is larger and arguably as successful in courting the business community. Even if Republicans win big at the polls next month [November 2010], the group is likely to retain its power, because both GOP leaders and the Obama administration will seek their votes in order to pass or block legislation.
As Dore and ProPublica note, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) was also a member of this coalition, although his name does not appear on the roster now. With a combination of smart grassroots organizing and a lot of shoe leather, a candidate with a progressive message defeated him in the June primary. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, foibles aside, will be a much better reflection of NY-14's constituency.
For that matter, on aggregate the US population is far more progressive than the political consultancy cartel will ever acknowledge. Disregarding any such labels, however, the people of the US crave substantive and lasting change; with New Democrats running the show, they're not gonna get it. Thus, voters will vote for the candidates who they perceive will bring that change.