In What Sense Is Brian Schatz Progressive?
A great deal has been made over the weekend of the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race between U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa and incumbent Brian Schatz. Voting was delayed in a small number of precincts due to a tropical storm, and so the race has been declared too close to call.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, headquartered online at BoldProgressives.org, has launched itself into the electoral conflict, declaring itself on the side of Schatz, and pledging its support should he need to mount a legal battle against Hanabusa. One might presume, therefore, that Senator Schatz has a progressive record in Congress – that he is a Bold Progressive.
Is he? His voting record doesn’t reflect it.
When U.S. Senators were asked to confirm David Barron, the architect of a White House policy of execution of people, without trial, by flying robots (yes, really), Brian Schatz went along with the plan. That’s not very progressive.
Now that the United States has been dragged back into war in Iraq, without a congressional vote of approval, Brian Schatz is refusing to offer criticism. That’s not very progressive.
Brian Schatz refused to support the Climate Protection Act. He wouldn’t support the Uniting American Families Act, to help families divided by the U.S. border. Schatz declined to join with senators seeking a vote on the Follow the Money Act, to provide increased transparency in shadowy campaign donations. He wouldn’t support the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act. Schatz even refused to sign his name to the Ending Secret Law Act, which would have forced the President to reveal the legal reasoning behind apparent violations of constitutional rights in programs that conduct widespread spying against the American people.
None of this looks very progressive to me.
Of course, Colleen Hanabusa doesn’t have much of a progressive record, either. She voted against the Back To Work Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and voted against an amendment that would have required the NSA to specify particular individuals as targets for its espionage, rather than conducting a massive dragnet of all telephone communications. Like Schatz, she has declined to support the Ending Secret Law Act and the Uniting American Families Act, and has refused to help bring the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to a vote in the House. Hanabusa has also withheld support for the The Fair Minimum Wage Act.
There will be a great deal of chatter from Democratic political groups over the next couple of days, calling for money to support either Schatz or Hanabusa. Given a close look at their records in Congress, however, it looks like neither contender is deserving of progressive grassroots support.