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Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:53 am
With almost a dozen terrorist attacks from Lahore to Sehwan and Peshawar to Balochistan this week, the terrorists have yet again struck Pakistan with a vengeance. Hundreds perished while many more have been maimed. The resurgence of this orgy of dreadful slaughter and mayhem by the forces of black reaction has shaken both the state and the society.
The shock and grief for the already traumatised masses aggravated their suffering, being inflicted through class oppression. For the ruling elites, it was the usual response of condemnations and the impotent rage to eradicate terrorism. The tragedy would soon pass into oblivion while the nauseating routine of hurling corruption allegations, scandals and bickering of the ruling elites warring factions captures the media and the social psyche in this period of social inertia. The surge of terrorist acts is not due to changes in the militarys high command as depicted by some media analysts but is the manifestation of a deeper socio-economic malaise.
The intrusion of religious fanaticism by General Zia at the behest of US imperialists to destroy the Afghanistans 1978 Saur Revolution has come back to haunt the imperialists and the Pakistani state. However, the official ideology indoctrinated in the states institutions, agencies and intrusions, in the constitutional clauses continues to be practised even today. The policies based on religious sectarian doctrines of Zias dictatorship have been pursued even by the secular and liberal democratic regimes, leading to the disastrous ramifications that are ravaging Pakistan.
These reactionary ethics are embedded in the attitudes of mainly the upper and middle rungs of the states institutions. There is a palpable reluctance in the sections of officials in taking any decisive action against these fundamentalist citadels indoctrinating hatred to the level of inculcating terrorist impulses in raw minds. These are run by obscenely rich Mullahs through the massive influx of black capital generated through crime and terror. The intrusion of dirty money in the structures of the state gives a material basis to this mindset and reactionary thinking. Nobody can predict when the so-called moderate clergy would morph into his terrorist version and vice-versa. For almost 40 years, the educational syllabi, and the societys morality and ethics have been shackled into these bigoted fetters. It is this sectarian hatred that provokes acts of terror and mayhem. Serious sections of the state and the ruling elite now feel threatened by the catastrophic devastation being perpetrated by these once compliant elements. The top echelons of state desperately want to eliminate this menace but not so hidden hands within the executive structures always succeed only in attacking selected targets during the states operations.
In the name of the national ideology of political Islam, the black mafia bosses heavily invest in the political parties, institutions and echelons of state power. They have eroded the discipline of the state structure and are now posing a threat to the civic existence of society. The desire for a substantial policy change by stakeholders of state and political power is a pipedream as they are compelled to continue the Zia-era policies benefitting the vested interests of the reactionary, corrupt, upstarts and crime infested ruling classes. It is this economic character of the present system that these political and state actors are destined to serve.
Proxy wars are strategies by the new states in a period where the national and world wars are unaffordable, unsustainable and could end up in the mutual destruction of the adversary elites. The involvement of a foreign hand cannot be excluded in this terrorist wave but laying all the blame on external factors actually conceals the failure of the state to eliminate terror and the complicity of certain official elements in the protection and nurturing of these reactionary forces for their vested interests. Now the successors of the mentors of these Frankenstein monsters are faced with the retribution of history. The mingling of these terrorists in the thickly populated cities and suburban towns makes it a herculean task to find and surgically remove them out of the population in general. Even though these religious bigots have a meagre support base amongst the masses, they have organised structures and an abundant capital. They can launch small demonstrations to pressurise the corrupt rulers with hundreds of destitute children seeking shelters from the socio-economic onslaught of capitalism in their seminaries. Such sectarian bastions exist in the hearts of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other cities and towns across the country indoctrinating sectarian hatreds. They defy the laws by bribing state officials and threatening the judiciary. Above all, they exploit the religious and sectarian sentiments of the states petit bourgeois functionaries.
But these policies of proxy conflicts and the exacerbating infightings of the varied capitalist interests are tearing apart the social fabric of the country. The collapse of the left and betrayals of traditional parties and leaders have further added to this apathy. The ultimate weapon to eradicate terrorism the peoples mobilisation is crucial to crushing these forces of black reaction. With no real revolutionary alternative in the political spectrum has blunted this revolutionary weapon of the class struggle. In the present state of inertia temporarily blanketing society, lumpen sections of the petit bourgeois youth despaired with the prospect of a bleak future can move towards such outfits in sheer frustration and commit such harrowing acts.
The neoliberal economics that replaced the failed Keynesianism model is rapidly intensifying inequality and social turbulence. The crisis of the capitalist system is so acute that its historical obsoleteness and economic bankruptcy has not only debilitated the state structures but also the surge of Islamic fundamentalist terror is a manifestation of this crisis. Terrorism can neither be eliminated through peace deals and agreements with these bestial creatures nor can it be crushed by the states that cast them as proxy options.
Without transforming the socio-economic material basis of these vile outfits the scourge of terrorism cannot be eliminated. This social, economic, political and administrative system is obsolete and beyond repair in its terminal decay. Only the mobilisations of the toiling classes can fight and vanquish religious terrorism and reactionary socio- cultural onslaught upon society by putting end to the system that needs these evils for its exploitation and ruler ship.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at ptudc@hotmail
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Posted: at 11:50 am
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Iraqi forces advance on Islamic State-held western Mosul
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operation on state TV, saying government forces were moving to "liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression and terrorism forever," using the Arabic acronym for IS. He called on security …
Iraqi forces launch push to retake western Mosul from IS
Iraqi Security Forces Begin Operations to Liberate West Mosul
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Posted: at 11:49 am
Thousands of Roman Catholics marched in the Philippines capital Manila on Saturday in the biggest gathering denouncing extra-judicial killings and a government plan to re-impose the death penalty for criminals.
Dubbed a Walk for Life prayer rally and endorsed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the gathering came just days after the church launched its strongest attack against President Rodrigo Dutertes war on drugs.
Organizers claimed as many as 50,000 people took part in the march toward Manilas Rizal Park, while about 10,000 based on police estimates stayed to hear speeches.
More than 7,600 people have been killed since Duterte launched his anti-drugs campaign seven months ago. More than 2,500 died in shootouts during raids and sting operations, according to the police.
Duterte says campaign a success
Amid mounting criticism about a surge in killings, Duterte said Saturday that the campaign was by and large successful.
Speaking at the Philippine Military Academys alumni homecoming in Baguio City, he said the drug problem was more complex than he initially thought, prompting him to seek military support.
I need the help of each one, especially the military, not for social control but protection (for) the citizens from the lawless, the reckless, and the selfish, the firebrand leader said.
Both the government and police have denied that extra-judicial killings have taken place. But human rights groups believe many deaths that police had attributed to vigilantes were carried out by assassins likely colluding with police.
Participants join a procession against plans to reimpose death penalty, promote contraceptives and intensify drug war during “Walk for Life” in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 18, 2017.
Archbishop: Killing is wrong
We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who also joined the rally, called for strengthening and promoting the culture of nonviolent movements.
In its most strongly worded attack on the crackdown on drug pushers and users, a CBCP pastoral letter read out at services across the country early this month said killing people was not the answer to trafficking of illegal drugs.
Nearly 80 percent of the Philippines 100 million people are Catholic and until recently the church had been hesitant to criticize Dutertes war on drugs.
Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Dutertes war on drugs now facing three drug-related charges, also joined the rally. She said the charges were meant to silence her.
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Posted: at 11:49 am
In 2015, nearly 1.25 million people in the United Stateswere arrested for the simple possession of drugs. Moreover, Americas War on Drugs has led to unprecedented violence and instability in Mexico and other drug-producing nations. Yet in spite of billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, drug abuse has not decreased.
The stigma of the addict has remained tried-and-true for decades, even centuries, and it affects every proposed solution to eliminating drug abuse and the drug trade, from treatment models to aggressive drug enforcement measures. With the solidification of the punitive drug control system in the 1970s and 1980s, years of stigmatizing individuals dependencies to substances like cocaine, derivatives of the poppy plant, and alcohol reached its logical conclusion: the addict was cast as a criminal. But if the stigma of the addict were removed altogether, many fear that drug addiction would increase to the overall detriment of society.
With the drug war concept growing increasingly unpopular, treatment policies have been touted as the next frontier in reducing drug abuse and crippling the drug trade. However, the success of treatment policies is more than simply discarding the War on Drugs. Its reckoning with the addict. If the treatment approach is to achieve widespread success, we must minimize our stigma of the addict in conjunction with creating more viable rehabilitative options that can successfully displace punitive drug control measures.
A look at how American society has stigmatized the addict over the last 100 years reveals how much work remains to be done.
Drug addicts have gone to great lengthsmonetarily, physically, emotionally, etc.to cure themselves of myriad addictions. In the 1930s, an experimental treatment known as the serum cure used heat plasters to raise blisters on the addicts skin. Upon withdrawing the serum from the blisters, the administers of the treatment then re-injected the serum directly into the addicts muscles multiple times over the course of the week that followed. Remarkable results were claimed from the serum cure.
Other miracle cures included horse blood injections, the infamous Keeley Cure, which introduced a substance into the body that allegedly contained gold, and placing the excrement of animals into substances like alcohol to induce aversion to them.
Those who did not turn to vogue, experimental treatments often resorted to substituting one substance addiction for another: cocaine for morphine or morphine for alcohol. It all depended upon which substance society deemed the more undesirable at the time.
At one point, the stigmatization of the addict proved so intense that some resorted to sterilization, especially in the age of eugenics. Addicts, as it went, did not have the right to pass on their undesirable addictions to their offspring or to society at large.
While the personal cost of such remedies was high for the addict, it was by no means as costly as enduring the sense of shame that came with being an addict in US society.
While todays addict is more likely to undergo a stay in a treatment facility, a prison, or on the street rather than an unusual, experimental cure, the stigma of the addict remains as sharp as ever, so much so that it prevents treatment resources from being made available to a greater portion of the population. It discourages addicts from seeking the help they need.
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 14% of people struggling with drug dependency seek treatment. Treatment implies accepting the status as addict in the path to recovery, a step that for some is too gruesome to endure.
Contrary to popular belief, many of the architects of the US War on Drugs were politicians in favor of treatment approaches to drug abuse. The US anti-drug campaign was not initially intended to be a war per se, but instead an incredible mobilization of US resources to target widespread drug use in the 1960s and 1970s, a period wracked by civil unrest and opposition to authority figures.
But ultimately the desire to minimize crime overtook an increased focus on treatment. Mistakenly, drug control came to be associated with increasing numbers of non-white, lower class drug addictsalready undesirables. Soon the larger umbrella of crime prevention subsumed drug addicts, many who might have been successfully rehabilitated if the conditions proved more favorable. Tackling addiction then grew increasingly intertwined with making US cities and towns safer.
In time, leaders would mobilize supply control measures domestically and abroad, and soon an entire bureaucracy formed around criminalized drug control where the addict was the criminal. Those who advocated genuine treatment options from the 1970s onward fought a losing battle. This made sense given longer traditions of stigmatizing addicts and the intense pressures addicts faced to overcome their dependencies.
The question now is not whether we can fund more treatment programs to reduce drug addiction and move past the War on Drugs, but whether or not we discard the stigma of the addict, which undergirds any solution to drug abuse in our society. With drug control in the United States an inherently racialized, class-based phenomenon, its easier to stigmatize and blame than it is to rehabilitate.
While increasingly sophisticated treatment options and facilities have developed over time, our society is not yet in a position where we embrace our addicts, especially those of lower classes, races, and ethnicities. Although blacks and Latinos use and sell drugs at similar or lower rates to whites, they comprise nearly 60% of those being held for drug offenses at state prisons. Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs, according to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.
As it stands, drug control fluctuates between two extremes: addiction as crime versus addiction as disease. For most of our recent history, we have subscribed to the former position. Treatment programs on a mass scale should be carefully constructed so that they promote the recuperating addict and his or her recovery post-addiction in a less stigmatizing environment. We must give addicts a second chance to be full citizens in our society capable of making a fresh start.
Perhaps the first step involves supporting campaigns that popularize the notion of seeing addiction as a disease through events and social media, such as National Recovery Month each September. Supporters of this cause offer support to addicts and their families and celebrate recovery. Could such awareness, if it grows powerful enough, then serve to inspire more aggressive political action?
In whatever direction we proceed, we must find a way to reckon with the stigma of the addict, an effort that has to be more powerful than the inclination to see the addict as a criminal.
Featured image credit: Chainlink by Unsplash. Public Domain via Pixabay.
Posted: at 11:49 am
If youre old enough to fight and die for your country, you should be old enough to play blackjack and drop a few dollars into a slot machine at the local casino.
At least, thats the logic of Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, who brings to the table Assembly Bill 86, which, with any luck at all, will be 86d right out of the Legislature.
The bill would reduce the legal age to gamble in Nevada from 21 to 18.
Credit to Wheeler for introducing a philosophical debate among lawmakers. But with just four months to complete the business of the state and the introduction of a solution to a problem that doesnt seem to exist, it makes no sense to spend any time on a proposal that isnt going anywhere.
Dead on arrival, one gaming regulator said at a recent meeting.
Colleague Colton Lochhead reached out to Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo about the proposal, and he was as puzzled as everybody else about it.
The industry has not come to us with any wants for dropping this, Alamo said. Everyones happy with 21 years of age.
Indeed, Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resorts Association, said her membership isnt bucking to change the law.
Weve never supported it in the past, she said. Theres really no compelling reason to change that position.
In fact, the change could create a problem.
With a legal gambling age of 18 and a legal drinking age of 21, drink servers at casinos would be compelled to card patrons to see if they could be served a drink.
Of course, the argument could be made that carding a customer might be a good thing because casinos could guard against underage drinking as well as underage gambling.
Some observers say that adding players who are 18, 19 and 20 could increase play and thus generate additional tax revenue for the state.
But really, just how much money would the average 18-to-20-year-old spend gambling? For the state, it looks like a big investment with little return.
Nevada is no longer the only state with casinos. Whats the legal gambling age everywhere else?
For most, its 21.
According to the casino.org website, the legal age to gamble at tribal casinos in Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota and Wyoming is 18.
In some states, the legal age is 18 or 21, depending on the game. For example, the age to legally place pari-mutuel bets the type most commonly associated with horse racing is 18 in Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington.
If youre 18, you can play bingo at casinos in Connecticut, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, Wisconsin and at tribal casinos in South Dakota (but not the commercial sites in Deadwood).
For real confusion, the legal gambling age is 18 or 21, depending on the casino, in California, New York and Oklahoma.
Its easy to sympathize with 18-year-olds who wonder why they can drive, vote and go to war but cant consume alcohol or gamble. It doesnt make sense.
But its a debate from which legislators should keep away.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.
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Posted: at 11:49 am
This year, online gambling is expected to generate $50.65 billion dollars and jumpto $56.05 billion in 2018. Thats a lot of money. Just for comparison’s sake, Disney generated $52.47 billion last year.
Last weeks Super Bowl LI was expected to top the amount wagered on last years game between Carolina and Denver, with one bettor putting $1.1 million on the Falcons to win — imagine the emotional roller coaster ride that individual experienced during the game.
The history of online gambling is very interesting, full of twists and turns. Take a look at the infographic below, which highlights this billion-dollar industry from its beginning to its current state.
Jonathan Long is the founder ofMarket Domination Media,a performance-based online marketing agency, blerrp, an influencer marketing agencyand co-founder of consumer productSexy Smile Kit&trade…
Posted: at 11:49 am
I suppose it’s what the hippies used to talk about when they sang about the age of Aquarius. I don’t know what astrological age we’re meant to be going through, but there’s something in the wind.
Where that wind will take us is impossible to predict. But in the current atmosphere, where the traditional 24-hour news cycles now changes every few hours, even people who vehemently disagree with each other can concur that we’re witnessing seismic events.
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Posted: at 11:48 am
FEBRUARY 19 This article was written from Kelantan, a few nights before the Himpunan 355 rally in support of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awangs private members Bill for harsher punishments by Shariah courts.
If party propaganda is to be believed, the rally is a much-anticipated major event, with several billboards advertising it erected across Kota Baru, calling Kelantan citizens to head down to the capital.
In fact, Sunday (today) has even been declared a holiday by the PAS state government so Kelantan folks can attend the rally supporting the party. This is in an action that comes close to either gross abuse of power, or just sheer narcissism.
But talk to the Kelantan grassroots and you find that some are not even aware what RUU355 means; the Malay acronym used for the Bill, named after Act 355 which it aims to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
For some who claim to understand, know it by one point only: hudud, the controversial Islamic penal code that has become the elusive holy grail of the Islamist party.
There has been no proper survey done on the Bill, but it is easy to imagine that knowledge and insight about what the Bill and the Act do is insufficient among Malaysians, even the Malay-Muslims. And part of this has been a result of its proponents deliberately out to obfuscate the public, in order to justify and garner support for the Bill to be passed.
Supporters of the Bill had mainly relied on strawmen arguments that are purposely neither right nor wrong, so critics found themselves tangled while trying to dismantle their arguments, instead of targeting the real issue:
1. Only the ignorant opposes RUU355
This argument is actually a mere insult directed at critics, by claiming that they do not understand the Bill put forward by Hadi, rather than a statement of fact.
By comparison, ignorance is rife on both sides. But activists who staunchly oppose RUU355 are arguably more informed about the Bill. There have been lawyers, journalists and civil liberties activists who have pored over the Bill ever since it was first tabled until it was finally amended on Umnos advice.
Staunch critics know exactly what they are talking about. They can even point out how Hadis Bill has been poorly written and how it could have been better drafted instead.
2. Non-Muslims should not oppose RUU355 as it does not affect them
This argument is used to present a narrative that only non-Muslims are opposing RUU355. Of course, this is not true.
Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awangs private members Bill is actually not well understood by its supporters. File PictureIn the lead-up to this week, we have seen many open letters and statements from those with Muslim backgrounds opposing the Bill, including G25 members Azimah Rahim and Mohd Sheriff Kassim. So are the activists who managed to temporarily block Hadis Bill from being tabled through the court.
It is true that by principle, Shariah laws, and RUU355 that bestows the power to Shariah courts, do not have jurisdiction over non-Muslims. But we all know in reality this sadly does not work this way.
In just the past year we have seen how Islamic laws have indirectly and directly impacted the lives of non-Muslims. Islamic regulations had affected non-religious businesses like the Ninja Joe pork burger and McDonalds birthday cake fiascos.
Shariah laws also claim jurisdiction over a Muslim, even when he has renounced the religion, as he is viewed an apostate a Shariah offence that can be punishable by death in some states. Thankfully, this cannot yet be implemented.
But the truth is, there is no way that Shariah laws will not affect non-Muslims. Because we live in the same society, not in silos. What affects one part of the society would inevitably affect the other.
The only way Shariah laws will not indirectly affect non-Muslims is when the two demographics are segregated. The way things are going, this might happen in some degree if we do not resist.
3. RUU355 is not about hudud
In part, this is true. After all, the Act is not about implementing hudud. The word hudud is not even mentioned anywhere near the Bill.
But this was not true prior to 2016. Even in 2014, PAS and a bipartisan technical committee discussing how hudud can be implemented in Malaysia consistently argued that Act 355 is one of its stumbling blocks.
After all, the Shariah courts can only sentence offenders with fines, prison and lashes. It cannot deliver brutal hudud punishments such as stoning, crucifixion, amputation, and death; or the eye for an eye punishments under qisas until Act 355 is amended to allow them to do so.
It was only after Hadi was allowed to table the Bill, with endorsement from Umno ministers, that any mention of hudud magically disappeared. Suddenly, it was all about upgrading the Shariah courts.
Despite that, even Hadis Bill cannot allow all hudud punishments to be implemented. His previous Bill did not allow death sentences. The current Bill fixed by Umno still does not allow stoning and amputation.
But, it still allows some hudud punishments. Illicit sex among unmarried couples can be punished by 100 lashes if Hadis Bill goes through, up from for example the current maximum of three-year jail, RM5,000 fine or six strokes of the rotan under Section 11 of Kelantans Syariah Criminal Code 1985.
Drinking alcohol can be punished by 80 lashes, instead of the same set of maximum punishments, under Section 25.
But that is not the point: Hadis Bill, if passed, would increase the punishment cap to maximum 30 years imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane. And this can be applicable to a lot of Shariah offences that ultimately are victimless crimes, not to mention discriminatory.
Shariah offences in many states do not only penalise a person for being a transgender, eating during Ramadan, skipping Friday prayers, indecent acts, but also insulting Islam, teaching without credentials, and criticising and insulting the religious enforcers themselves.
Go through every offence in each state, and you will start questioning whether many are even fit for the 21st century.
To be continued in Part 2 next week.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
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Posted: at 11:46 am
Activists have already circled a number of Senate Democrats who have failed to meet their standards, including vulnerable and increasingly rare red-state Democrats. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
On the evening Donald Trump announced his supreme court nominee, thousands of protesters gathered outside of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumers Brooklyn apartment. They chanted Just vote no and Obstruct while carrying signs Get a spine, Chuck and a prop skeleton to illustrate their point.
The protesters are part of a sudden swell of liberal activism that has drawn millions to city streets and airport concourses across the US, in a startling show of resistance to Trumps presidency. Emboldened by this groundswell, some progressives have started using the word primary as a verb and as a threat.
For Democrats in Washington, many of whom are still surprised by the scale and furiousness of backlash, the challenge is how to convert this energy into electoral success.
Schumer has significantly slowed the pace of Trumps cabinet confirmations and excoriated many of the presidents nominees. But the activists outside Schumers home on that January night were unimpressed by his votes in favor of Trumps nominees to represent the US in the UN and to lead the Pentagon, CIA and Department of Homeland Security.
Our message to Democrats is simple: fight Trump or well find someone who will, said Waleed Shahid, a co-founder of the progressive group All of Us and a former organizer with the Bernie Sanders campaign. This week, the group launched the political action committee We Will Replace You, the latest in a series of projects to warn Democrats that failures to oppose Trumps agenda will have consequences.
Our message to Democrats is simple: fight Trump or well find someone who will
The group argues that Democrats need exercise the little political power they still have. The activists have a long list of demands: votes against all Trump appointees, opposing his supreme court nominee, using congressional procedures to bring all business to a crawl to block Trumps agenda and demand Steve Bannon be fired. Elected officials, they say, should publicly support impeachment if Trump is found to have broken the law or violated the constitution.
The activists have already circled a number of Senate Democrats who have failed to meet their standards, including vulnerable and increasingly rare red-state Democrats, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Both Democrats are up for re-election in 2018.
The Democratic party establishment wants the support of the Tea Party of the left but they dont want to earn it, Shahid said, alluding to the 2010 movement that mobilized rightwing activists, confronted moderate Republicans and helped the party take control of the House in a wave.
They say they love the grassroots activism, but they dont want to take the next step and challenge the Democratic leadership.
Their demands puts leaders such as Schumer in a bind. Shut out of power in Washington, public shows of support are arguably his partys most powerful weapon, but he must also worry about the lawmakers in his caucus facing elections in states where Trump won.
Democrats must defend 23 Senate seats in the 2018 election cycle, 10 from states that Trump won in November. Already, outside groups have targeted these vulnerable red-state Democrats to try to soften their opposition to Trumps nominees for the cabinet and supreme court.
Activists threatening to primary Democrats live in a bubble. They have no idea how to win places that arent sky blue
The activists threatening to primary Democratic candidates live in a bubble, said Jim Kessler, a former Schumer aide and co-founder of a centrist thinktank, Third Way. They have no idea how to win in places that arent sky blue already.
Kessler believes the path back to power will require the Big Tent party to grow geographically, and not just move sharply to the left with its demands. In his view, red-state Democrats are an endangered species worth protecting not threatening.
The activists campaign says its goal is not necessarily to primary the candidates and that the threat becomes a tool that successfully pushes Democrats to fight Trump harder.
Blanket obstructionism has proven to be a tall order even for progressive politicians from safely Democratic states. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive favorite from Massachusetts, has already been forced to defend her vote for Ben Carson for secretary of housing and urban development.
A number of activists who support using this tactic agreed that the real test will be the supreme court battle. Senate Democrats have the ability to filibuster Trumps nominee, Neil Gorsuch, meaning that Republicans need to earn support from at least eight Democrats to confirm Gorsuch unless the controlling party changes the rules.
This nominee cannot be allowed to ever take the oath of office. It just cannot be allowed to happen, said Anthony Rogers-Wright, a Seattle-based climate and environmental activist who was a surrogate for the Sanders campaign.
If any Democrat does not take part in a mass filibuster theyre disqualified.
Already, a handful of senators have flatly refused to support Gorsuch, arguing that Republicans stole the seat from Barack Obama when they refused, for a record 293 days, to hold a hearing for his nominee, Merrick Garland. But more have said Gorsuch deserves a fair hearing, and that they will wait to hear more about his views and background before making a decision.