You'll be shocked to find that The Hill didn't want my response to Rep. Pocan's piece a week ago. Alas, tptb will have to do. Here it is:
After my representative, Mark Pocan, decided to follow in the footsteps of Nancy Pelosi and endorse Representative Joe Kennedy III over incumbent Senator Ed Markey in the Massachusetts Senate race, I both tweeted and wrote a letter to his office expressing my contempt for his choice and acknowledging that I’d support a progressive primary challenge next cycle. So, when Representative Pocan penned a public response to, his words here, “the vitriolic response by some to stating their view on Twitter” in his piece for The Hill, I couldn’t be more excited to anoint myself as the unofficial official local progressive voter response voice. I’ll be addressing Rep. Pocan’s points individually. Original piece here.
Rep. Pocan, first, you argue most importantly that Massachusetts had two progressive options on the ballot. This is a waste of progressive political capital and now, to most, Joe Kennedy looks like a very weak politician. By pitting progressives against one another, you’re weakening the progressive cause. By endorsing one progressive over another, you’re dividing a group that should only be uniting. You’re not normalizing progressives running, you’re normalizing progressives losing. Ed Markey was not losing that Senate race and it should’ve been considered an affront to challenge him simply based on personal political ambitions. You note that it was Rep. Kennedy who was first in the race to forego corporate contributions but failed to note Kennedy’s willing and desperate acceptance of endorsements by the most corporately owned Democrats.
You claim that serving with both has allowed you a unique and first-hand look at deciding which is more effective. I’m going to take you at your word on that. You’ve served with both and I haven’t. I’m not prepared to call you a liar, so I’ll concede that you’re certainly more aware of the personal character of both men. I will note, however, that you highlight Rep. Kennedy’s transgender championing while failing to mention Sen. Markey was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and The Rainbow Times and has many LGBTQ+ victories to his name.
Third, I’m aware that some are newer to politics. This may be a shock to you Rep. Pocan but I’m actually aware of Senator Markey’s less than ideal history! I considered myself patronized to assume I wasn’t. Senator Markey embraced progressive ideas and became the progressive senator he was asked to be. I am however, concerned to hear you reference Sen. Elizabeth Warren as someone who “got it right at first”. Certainly the former registered Republican didn’t get it right at first? C’mon, sir.
Fourth, 44 years is certainly a long time in a job. Nobody is going to argue with that. Personally, I’m in favor of term limits and I’m happy to hear you’ll be championing a bill to establish them in the House next term. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t recall Senator Markey accidentally voting for anything, let alone to give the insane leader of the free world more nukes. An unconscionable mistake and one that Joe Kennedy III’s name is on record with, it only took him four years in a federally elected position. Imagine what he could’ve done with 44 years.
Fifth, you noted the progressive champion Kennedy has become on the Congressional Progressive Caucus by giving vague overviews but as previously established, we’re not watching this race in a vacuum here, sir. We’ve been watching for years. We’ve watched as the DNC choose Kennedy to rebut the 2018 SOTU. We haven’t seen him endorse progressive primary challengers to incumbent corporate dems. In fact, minus the Elizabeth Warren endorsement for the presidency, we didn’t hear anything from him.
Sixth, are we certain Rep. Kennedy has a long career ahead of him, as you claim? His track record of crazy mistakes continued on the campaign trail: spelling the name of a Massachusetts city wrong in a campaign ad in the newspaper, claiming Markey hasn’t visited Massachusetts towns that have been underwater since the 1930’s, and calling out Senator Markey for an exact same vote Rep. Kennedy made under President Obama, to name a few. The lack of preparation mirrors his aforementioned 2017 “mistake” vote. I have my doubts on Rep. Kennedy’s staying power in Washington.
Lastly, I appreciate you writing your thoughts. It shows that you’re not dismissive, although not exactly receptive or understanding of the “vitriol” received. I’ll explain it as a progressive voter in your district: We saw what happened with Bernie in 2015. It’s now been acknowledged and the people who were involved have written books and profited from it. We saw what happened with Bernie this primary cycle as corporate Dems united to drop out in sync after a certain phone call was placed on the weekend before Super Tuesday. This is nothing more than a slap in the face to progressive voters. We saw 12 powerful corporate Democrats unite in January to endorse Rep. Kennedy. And then we saw Nancy Pelosi, Mrs. Don’t Endorse Incumbent Democratic Challengers, enter the race to endorse a challenger to a progressive incumbent. Rep. Pocan, when you put your name next to Joe Kennedy III’s name, you also put it next to Rep. Pelosi. If you can’t see, from a progressive perspective, why that’s a problem, then sir your political acumen is worse than the voters you patronized.