The Washington Post reports, “A new Democratic Party is emerging in congressional primaries across the country, united over the most liberal policies in decades, but sharply divided over which candidates to run against the Republicans in the midterms.” This statement aptly applies to our District 19 Democratic Primary race, ranked as one of the most competitive in the country. They all seem to be running more or less on a Bernie Sanders – style platform: advocating policies that were considered “fringe” in 2016, and that only Bernie himself dared to even mention. I thought at the time that Bernie making such an “outrageous” statement as calling himself a “Democratic Socialist” would send all his possible voters running for the hills. (When I was growing up in the 1960’s, the word “socialist” was considered equivalent to “Communist.”) Remember how Reagan so successfully made “liberal” a dirty word in the 1980’s? Now suddenly the word “Progressive” is the hip word to use – and it’s about time! But are all the candidates EQUALLY progressive? (This includes funding your campaign through grass roots fundraising alone). In addition, several of them have past and present business dealings and experience that clearly show they are much richer than we working class folks are. Some of them even have backgrounds working for firms that represented the oil industry, Phillip Morris Tobacco, and firms involved in bankruptcy proceedings, contract disputes, and a defamation suit. One candidate even engaged in activities in the past and present that could have landed him in jail! , I URGE my fellow Democrats, when choosing whom to vote for, to NOTrely on the candidates’ websites or brochures ALONE – they ALLlook terrific! However, do these people all equally “walk their own talk?” Are they really as “Progressive” as they say are? In addition, are they all ethical? A tremendous resource for finding this out is the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics” (opensecrets.org). This non-partisan website is the best “Data Mine” of information about the wealth of, and SPECIFIC DONATIONS given, to every candidate across the country, even categorized by sector(such as “Defense,” “Lawyers and Lobbyists,” etc.) ; by industries (Law Firms, Non-Profits, Insurance, Pharmaceuticals/Health Products, Financial Institutions etc.); by geography (did the donation come from within or outside the District?) and by specific contributors (“Ariel Corp.,” “Akin Gump,” etc.). The Center and its website is also a treasure trove of information to educate the American voter about general voting topics such as where the real power to get a law passed in Congress resides, “10 things you should know about money in politics,” “10 things they won’t tell you,” “Dark Money,” “PACs/SuperPACs,” and how donations can legally go unreported. The Washington Post calls it “the nation’s top resource for “clear and unbiased information, further stating, “The Center for Responsive Politics has made itself into an essential national institution. Now more than ever, with the proliferation of super PACS and 501(c) (4) groups pouring huge sums into campaigns, it is critical to have a reliable and handy of information on money and politics. Opensecrets.org is the go-to site for this data – trustworthy, accessible, and well-presented.” Other good sources are theotherhudsonvalley.com, the online newspaper “The Intercept,” and the Albany Times-Union, all of which I quote from extensively in this article.
I also recommend reading Matt Taibi’s very astute article in Rolling Stone, “The Battle of Woodstock Part II; Dem-on-Dem Violence.
So, in summary, I asked myself three questions: 1) WHY do we have a whopping SEVEN candidates running in a primary for a single lowly seat out of 435 in the House? 2) Is it possible for all seven to really be equally committed to working for the same Progressive changes? 3) Do all seven have the same noble motivations to run for this seat? Sadly, after two exhausting months of research on the candidates’ track records, where they’ve lived, and how they are currently funding their campaigns, I have to conclude that the answer to the last two questions is NO. The first question is one of motivation, which I conclude to be: to serve the interests that are funding them.