Identity politics is subverting the democratic process in Wisconsin “Democratic” primary

Perhaps you have heard about the congressional race in Wisconsin to unseat Paul Ryan? Perhaps you have heard about the candidate that has been installed by not only the Democratic establishment, but many high profile progressive personalities and organizations? Before I get started here, let me state that there is little question that Randy Bryce, or “Iron Stache” as he is known, is a much better choice for our movement than Paul Ryan, you’d never get that argument from me. Many of his policies, including his stance on single-payer healthcare are in line with a solid progressive platform and if I lived in Wisconsin and he was my only choice against Ryan, I would have zero problem voting for him. In fact I would probably do so enthusiastically, although he does have some issues that he needs to challenged on.

However, there is a situation in the primary race, (yes, there is a primary before the midterm election) that has caused me to take pause and really wonder what is going on here. After everything this movement has been through over the last couple of years, how can progressives that I have grown to admire just ignore the primary race? After witnessing the democratic establishment attempt to completely shut Bernie Sanders out of his own primary race against Hillary Clinton, this feeling is eerily familiar. The democratic establishment found this guy who’s never won an election and now progressives are falling over themselves to endorse him without even glancing at his opponent. That doesn’t seem very democratic to me. and definitely not fair.

Although I am in disagreement, I understand the way of thinking here: a big, strong, iron worker with a prominent mustache and a decent platform, from a political campaign marketing standpoint seems like a good choice to take on one of the most feared men in Washington, but are we not taking a HUGE step backwards by not giving Cathy Myers the time of day? If you have been following the story on social media you would know that she can’t get a cup of coffee from any elite personality on the left, it’s almost like she doesn’t exist. I have posed the question more than once on social media and so far not one person can give me a reason why Bryce is a better candidate than Myers, other than his gender, his occupation and of course, his facial hair. The bottom line is that Randy Bryce is being chosen over Cathy Myers because he is a man. Plain and simple.

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I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to tear Bryce down to help Myers, that’s not the point here. The point is that we, all of us, should be researching all of the candidates in a primary race and then selecting a candidate based on their platform and not playing identity politics. Sadly though, that’s exactly what has happened here. Like I said, not going to spend a bunch of energy on this but he has questionable stances on pipelines, as evidenced in this exchange with Naomi Klein that happened while Standing Rock was still very fresh in our minds. Of course he is pro-pipeline, he’s an iron worker by trade. This issue alone should make progressives take a second look at his primary opponent.

As mentioned earlier, some people that have inspired a whole lot of progressives (including myself) have endorsed Bryce. Topping the list off would be Bernie Sanders, who I support in almost everything but as you can see from this article, not all things. Much in the way Bernie himself is, we can disagree with him or anyone else on certain issues, but still support them on other things. We owe it to ourselves, to the movement in general and the democratic process to speak up when we see an injustice happening and that is what is happening here. Plus, a primary where each candidate is challenged to be the best they can be should strengthen them in the long run.

If we as a movement are going to hand select the candidates, then why waste the time, money and valuable energy on a primary?

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G.A. Dunlap