“Did he just call us g--d--- communists?”
April 23, 2019 11:00 AM   Subscribe

“There are definitely days when I wake up now and I am, like, I am not equipped to do this,” Innamorato said later. “But I’ll figure it out. It’s a system. There are rules. It’s imperfect because it’s run by human beings, and I’ll figure it out.” These Women Were Elected As Democratic Socialists, Now They’re Trying To Figure Out What That Means (Washington Post)
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Article is paywalled.
posted by CaseyB at 11:22 AM on April 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

CaseyB - for paywalled articles... (or monthly limits), try opening them in "Incognito" or "In Private" mode in your web-browser, seems to do the trick for me.
posted by jkaczor at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2019

Is this officially defined as Irony if you can't access information about Socialists without paying a fee to a Capitalist news entity?

But also re: the post title... "Communists - Giving Socialists A Bad Name For Nearly 100 Years"
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

Not sure if my comment was deleted or just didn't take.

But before anyone had a chance to ask any questions, she said one more thing: “I withdraw the amendment.”
“There are definitely days when I wake up now and I am, like, I am not equipped to do this,” Innamorato said later.

I have no idea why she would take a job like that if she couldn't face the follow up questions. I certainly couldn't, but I'm terrible at thinking on my feet. I recognize I'm not equipped to be a legislator and never will be.

The "interrogation" is the price you pay to be able to interrogate the other representatives.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I'm not sure what to make of the anecdote about the amendments to the Medicaid eligibility thing. Maybe it was a one-off, or not wanting to put forward amendments that were given to them by lobbyists that they (or their staff) hadn't had time to review thoroughly.

But boy is that not a flattering look. What did they expect a state legislator's job to be? It's a bit...concerning.

Also, for those who aren't familiar with the cast of characters, or are wondering why you haven't heard of them before, this is the Pennsylvania state House and Senate, not the US House/Senate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:27 PM on April 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

What did they expect a state legislator's job to be?

Naively, I'd personally expect that it'd be debate, reconciliation, and compromise. Not withstanding an interrogation.

And sometimes, you just sort of realize that you've got the answers that are logical and rational, but you're not prepared for the slippery "gotcha" questions that are asked in bad faith.

The anecdote was to show that they're learning that controlling the dialogue and the message is sometimes as important as the content of the bill, and that in the span of a few days, they went from withdrawing their bill to holding their own in an interview.
posted by explosion at 1:35 PM on April 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't know, unless you have the right kinds of experience you're pretty likely to come in not knowing various important things, and not knowing what you don't know and what to ask. And yes, candidates should inform themselves beforehand as best they can, but you'd think fellow caucus members would see it as their responsibility to train and mentor as well. I wonder if they've had less support because they didn't run as Democrats, or if there just isn't an effective organized system for onboarding new congresspeople and it's all down to your personal connections.

I wondered a little at the tone of this article. Writing out their actual conversations made them sound extremely amateurish, and I'd be surprised if male mainstream freshmen sound any more professional but I've never seen this kind of writing about them. (Which doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and I'd be interested to see counterexamples.)
posted by trig at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

Annoying article. I've been a fan of Innamorato and Summer and everything that I've read and heard from them has been very well thought out and considered. They're young and inexperienced in a job that you basically have to learn while you're doing because there's no real school for it so you'd expect a few stumbles at the start.

Also what's with the noir-ish photography?
posted by octothorpe at 2:08 PM on April 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

So, Sara Innamorato is my state house rep. I've met her several times, I canvassed and campaigned for her. Summer Lee is also local to me.

They primaried established incumbents and are likely not super popular with the party in Harrisburg (they did run as Democrats, they just beat the incumbents in the primaries in districts where the races are uncontested by Republicans). They are young, they were not grown in the debating team vats that produce creatures like Ted Cruz, and they took over seats that were previously occupied by career machine politicians. They've been in this job (which honestly is a gig that is like 75% having a smooth constituent services game) for a few months, at a level where you don't get a ton of staff and have to DIY it a good bit of the time. If you want people from outside the system to get in there, this is what it looks like, and it's not always perfect.

Annoying article was indeed annoying.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:15 PM on April 23, 2019 [32 favorites]

Lizz Fiedler is my rep and damn is she a badass. Lady was walking the walk long before running for office, canvassing while like 18 months pregnant, with a toddler, and putting up with enough old-school South Philly neighbors to make me *quite* sure she had the diplomatic skills to hold her own in Harrisburg. My only complaint is that she's so much cooler than me that I get, like, middle-school-dork PTSD when I run into her at the park.
posted by catesbie at 3:17 PM on April 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

Huh. I thought it was really humane, they’re doing s job you can’t exactly train for except by doing while dealing with a hostile Congress - The Taiwan I got was I’m glad they have a support network and maybe we should be encouraging these more...

If we’re seriously about having outsiders enter into the halls of power then I thought maybe something we can do as an org is put together a best practices or what I learned guide after our freshmen legislators have been in for a year - The old American socialist party used to provide guides, policy, and handbooks and help to new legislators cause they where usually like, labor organizers or such, not used to the process.
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sara Innamorato is my rep as well. She replaced an ex-cop who spent all of his time in office campaigning for everyone to be nicer to cops, sponsoring shitty anti-immigrant bills and then awkwardly walking them back when people noticed, before going right out and sponsoring more shitty anti-immigrant bills, saying shitty things about how women use abortion as birth control too much, and occasionally sponsoring some events for shredding paper or recycling hard to recycle materials.

She's not doing a perfect job but I am so much more pleased about having her represent me than I was about my former rep. I would rather have someone who is trying to do the right things and can learn from her newbie mistakes to do better next time, than the guy who's been around forever and knows exactly how to accomplish things I do not want a representative of mine doing.

We're having some entertaining drama locally where a guy who was running an "Americans Against Socialism" campaign against Sara specifically is currently being hit with campaign finance complaints and accusations of robocalling. I'm enjoying watching the dude slowly lose one powerful local board position after another for being a shitty capitalist bag of dicks. Those robocalls were really stupid, and the "vote against socialism" campaign signs were hilariously ineffective.
posted by Stacey at 4:23 PM on April 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

...actually I’m going to formally pitch this, a SO YOU’VE JUST UNSEATED A MACHINE POLITICS LIFER guide from all the freshman legislators ,kind of like a worker’s inquiry.
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on April 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

If they're confused about what "democratic socialism" means, perhaps they can look to St. Bernard for some inspiration: Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic Socialist’ Is Just a Synonym for New Deal Liberal
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:47 AM on April 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

For being solidly Democratic, the Pittsburgh area has been frustratingly conservative for a long time. There hasn't been a Republican elected in the city since the early 1930s but that's just allowed the Democrats to drift to the right over the years until you get leaders like my city council person, who sees herself as the voice of cranky old white Pittsburgh and almost certainly voted for Trump.

It's telling that our mayor, Peduto, was seen as a ground-breaking progressive here a decade ago when he's really a pretty standard wonky centrist technocrat. The county Democratic Committee still refused to endorse him in the last election because they think he's too radical because of bike lanes or something.

Young leaders like Summers and Innamorato have really given me new hope about this area and the future of the local Democratic party.
posted by octothorpe at 4:23 AM on April 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic Socialist’ Is Just a Synonym for New Deal Liberal

Is it even better to just say it's the Republican platform after WW2?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:54 AM on April 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

The couple houses on my block who had Trump signs out in 2016 currently have signs out for the endorsed Democratic candidate for city council. I fully expect they'll have Trump 2020 signs up in place of those shortly. For me the county party endorsement (in races where there are multiple candidates in the primary) basically means "Danger, Will Robinson. Look into this person further, they are probably far to the right of me." That's not always the case, but frequently. Sara and Summer are fighting an uphill battle on multiple fronts.

I've also been told by people who have held elected office (I know a few, it's a small town) that Harrisburg is a sucking black hole of misogyny (and misogynoir even moreso). A woman I knew in high school went on to become a lawyer and then a state rep. She lasted one term and declined to run again for the seat because she was so enraged and beaten down by the daily misogyny while she was trying to do her job.

I mean, look at this petty Twitter nonsense that Summer Lee has to deal with from her colleagues.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:13 AM on April 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

*okay it looks like the National Electoral Committee is putting together a guide and interview from our Freshmen legislators
posted by The Whelk at 12:43 AM on April 29, 2019

I really liked the article/opinion linked by Noisy Pink Bubbles above, an excerpt:
In most other contexts, the left works to redefine the terms of America’s ideological debate rightward — which is to say, to raise the threshold for what qualifies as “liberal,” “progressive,” or “left wing” so as to denaturalize the aberrant conservatism of modern U.S. politics. In a global context, the left argues, the Democrats are really a “center-right” party. Viewed historically, Barack Obama is best understood as a “Rockefeller Republican.” Kamala Harris might identify as a progressive — and she may claim to support a variety of social-democratic programs — but given the context of her record, she (and all other Democratic candidates save Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) is a “centrist.” As for the contemporary GOP, it is not a conservative party so much as a “white nationalist” one.

All of these rebrandings are consistent with the objective of moving the boundaries of permissible debate leftward: If Mitch McConnell is a far-right extremist who should not be welcome in polite society, and Obama represents the outer bound of respectable conservatism, then Sanders’s platform is centrist — and collective ownership of the means of production slips into the far-left frame of the “Overton window.”

It gets better, but read it if you didn't already...
posted by mumimor at 1:09 AM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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