Barbara Boxer and Progressives

While Jerry Brown is on the verge of defeating Meg Whitman, recent polling suggests the US Senate race is actually tightening. It is an extremely high priority that we defend Barbara Boxer against Carly Fiorina – control of the US Senate may depend on it, and we need to ensure that we support a progressive hero like Boxer.

Here’s the SF Chronicle on Fiorina’s “surge”:

A poll last week by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed Brown opening an eight-point lead over Whitman, up from a virtual tie in September. But Fiorina had edged to within five points of Boxer, with 13 percent of likely voters undecided. A Rasmussen poll Friday showed Fiorina closing to within three points, and leading by five among those who said they are certain to vote….

Public Policy Institute President and CEO Mark Baldassare said voters are deeply unhappy with both Sacramento and Washington, but draw a distinction between the two very different jobs of governor and senator.

“You’ve got a Boxer-Fiorina race that revolves around how people are feeling about Congress, and you don’t have that same dynamic in the Whitman-Brown race,” Baldassare said. Aside from partisans, he said, “Independents are really the interesting issue. What do they want in Sacramento? And what do they want in Washington?”

There’s no doubt that the public is, quite rightly, upset with the failures of Congressional Democrats, and the Senate in particular. At the same time, it would be extremely self-destructive to take that out on Barbara Boxer, who has been an effective Senator and stood up for Californians and our values even in the face of intense pressure not to do so, such as her courageous and correct vote against the Iraq War eight years ago.

Independent voters are the most susceptible to Fiorina’s argument, although the choice here is clear and easy: Fiorina believes in sending jobs overseas instead of creating them here at home, doesn’t support expanded health care coverage, and supports the right-wing’s extremist social agenda that most California independents reject.

But there are some that are trying to argue that Boxer also has a problem maintaining progressive voters as well. That’s the argument in Christopher Cook’s new article at In These Times, which includes a quote from me that appears to be taken out of context:

Boxer also suffers from a nationwide “enthusiasm gap” among Democrats, says writer Robert Cruickshank, Public Policy Director of the Courage Campaign. “Voters, especially the so-called ‘Obama surge’ voters from 2008, have seen the U.S. Senate in particular fail to implement an agenda of change,” and are turned off. “All Senate Democrats are suffering as a result of the obstructionism employed by Democrats such as Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman,” says Cruickshank, and some California Democrats “are indicating they won’t vote in November.”

I spent all night searching for that quote of mine – I never spoke to Cook, and though I recall writing those words, I certainly did not mean them to suggest that California Democrats won’t have Boxer’s back. They will. The point I was making there was that Boxer is hurting because of problems outside her control – like other Senate Dems, the self-destructive actions of people like Nelson, Lincoln and Lieberman made it impossible for Democrats to implement their agenda and therefore have made Boxer more vulnerable than she should be.

In fact, California Democrats aren’t showing much of an enthusiasm gap. They are quite likely to vote, especially to protect Barbara Boxer. Here’s what I had to say about Boxer in the Calitics statewide endorsements:

The choice here is stark and simple: a progressive champion who fought against the war in Iraq and led the effort to pass a strong climate bill (among MANY other accomplishments) or a right-wing extremist who praises the Tea Party and defends her record of shipping tens of thousands of jobs overseas. Barbara Boxer had our back in the Senate when few others did. She deserves our support now against Carly Fiorina’s radicalism. Further, if Boxer wins, it is very difficult for the Republicans to retake the US Senate, another reason to vote for Boxer and maintain the firewall.

Every California progressive voter I talked to understands the importance of this race and of defending Barbara Boxer. It’s time we spread that word over this final week before the election. We cannot afford to let Boxer lose.

11 thoughts on “Barbara Boxer and Progressives”

  1. My discussions with independents show that many of them have swallowed whole the “Boxer hasn’t done anything” meme.  If you are working to get independents and moderates to vote for Boxer, or even some progressives and liberals who are suffering amnesia, please take a moment to memorize some of these very significant accomplishments by our Senator:

    These accomplishments show that she works with the other side to address important issues (even co-sponsoring a bill with Inhofe!).  The truth about Boxer is that she is nothing like the caricature that her opponents have created.  Please help set the record straight.  

  2. So until 8PM next Tuesday, don’t take ANY of them as real.  Work every last voter – because every one of them count and matter.

  3. Three guesses what senator Stephen Zunes is describing in this paragraph?


    “The senator has strongly defended Israeli attacks on civilian population centers in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Lebanon and has categorically rejected calls for linking the billions of dollars in U.S. aid to human rights considerations. The senator has attacked reputable human rights organizations and leading international jurists for daring to document war crimes committed by Israeli forces (in addition to those committed by militant Islamists.) The senator has openly challenged the International Court of Justice on the universality of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution attacking the World Court’s landmark 2004 decision. The senator has led the effort in the Senate to undermine President Obama’s efforts to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, insisting that Obama refrain from openly challenging Israel’s right-wing government to suspend its illegal colonization drive. The senator has attacked supporters of nuclear non-proliferation for calling on Israel to join virtually every other country in the world in signing the NPT. The senator has endorsed Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem and expansion of settlements in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, as well as Israel’s construction of a separation barrier deep inside the occupied West Bank to facilitate their annexation into Israel and virtually eliminate the possibility of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. The senator defended Israel’s illegal attack in international waters of a humanitarian aid flotilla, even after a United Nations investigation revealed that five people on board, including a 19-year old U.S. citizen, were murdered execution-style. Indeed, this senator has consistently sided with Israel’s right wing government against those in both the United States and Israel working for peace and human rights.”

  4. People wanted change and there was some, But only grudgingly, Democrats had a 60 seat majority and It was squandered, Carter moved more bills through in His 1 term than Obama has so far. We can now only hope for the best and maybe a miracle on the 2nd.

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