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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, 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.

brian schatzIs 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.

11 thoughts on “In What Sense Is Brian Schatz Progressive?”

  1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    Brian Schatz (D) – Incumbent Senator
    Colleen Hanabusa (D) – Congresswoman, Ex-State Senate President & Attorney
    Cam Cavasso (R) – Ex-State Rep., Financial Advisor, Army Veteran & Frequent Candidate
    Michael Kokoski (Libertarian) – Machinist & Preacher
    Joy Allison (Non Partisan) – Self-Employed

    By that logic you don’t like either Democrats, so you don’t want them elected at all. Yeah, they’re DINOs, so no one should fund their campaigns at all letting Cam Cavasso or whoever else Hawaiians like most instead of them win.

  2. J Clifford says:

    From Peregrin’s perspective, it’s better for Democrats to place their focus in other states, and in supporting actual progressive Democrats, instead of supporting the rightward slide of the Democratic Party, and the ethical disintegration of organizations like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. It’s better to help elect a progressive Democrat in another state than a rotten Democrat in Hawaii, where a genuine progressive could actually win next time.

    I agree.

  3. Tom says:

    “Running As Dems While Sounding Republican.” Hey, What Could Go Wrong?

    They say that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one Politico story certainly doesn’t make a campaign season. But if a recent article there is correct – if the Democratic Party’s strategy this year really is “Running as a Dem (while) sounding like a Republican” – then the party may be headed for a disaster of epic but eminently predictable proportions.

    “It’s one thing for Democrats running in red parts of the country to sound like Republicans on the campaign trail,” writes Alex Isenstadt. “It’s another when Democrats running in purple or even blue territory try to do so. Yet that’s what’s happening in race after race this season.”

    Red Dems

    Certainly this isn’t true of every race. Populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been brought in to help with Senate contests in several red states, for example. And a recent commentary (in Politico, come to think of it) argued that “an ascendant progressive and populist movement … is on the verge of taking over the party.”

    So which is it? Are Dems tacking left or veering right? The answer isn’t clear yet. But Isenstadt offers some worrisome anecdotes. He points to several Democratic candidates who are recycling Republican rhetoric, even in districts that went for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

    Isenstadt highlights, for example, a campaign video and accompanying material from Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff’s video is indistinguishable from a Republican’s, complete with a Paul Ryan-style graph of “soaring” federal debt and admonitions that “you don’t buy things you can’t pay for.”
    [there’s more]

  4. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    Tom brings up interesting facts. 2014 is a midterm. Time for Democrats to sound like Republicans and for Republicans to sound like Tea Party. I do need to compare all the candidates in this race. I will report back after studying how the three non Democrat candidates compare.

  5. Stephen Kent Gray says:,_2014 Both candidates for the primary did receive progressive endorsements including Elizabeth Warren for Brian Schatz. All the endorsements are in the wikipedia article with references as proof.

    1. J Clifford says:

      Does an endorsement from a progressive politician necessarily make the endorse politician progressive? Elizabeth Warren endorsed Barack Obama for President. Obama is no progressive. Sometimes, these endorsements are matters of political alliances, rather than ideological similarity. I prefer to look at what a politicians actions are, rather than what other people say about them.

      1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

        On the other hand EMILY List did endorse Colleen Hanabusa. While endorsements do not have intrinsic value, they do tell you who supports them. Usually though when a conservative or tea party individual or group endorses someone, it means they are the same.

      2. Stephen Kent Gray says:

        Endorsement for him

        Barack Obama, President of the United States[12]
        Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City[13]
        Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States[14]
        Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator (D-IA)[15]
        Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader (D-NV)[12]
        Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator (D-MA)[16]
        John D. Waihee III, former Governor of Hawaii[17]

        Council for a Livable World[18]
        Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters[17]
        League of Conservation Voters[18]
        National Weather Service Employees Organization[18]
        Ocean Champions[18]
        Sierra Club[19]

        Honolulu Star-Advertiser[20]

        1. J Clifford says:

          these are endorsements, not policies… and an endorsement from Obama is not an endorsement from a progressive.

  6. Stephen Kent Gray says: It is a Facebook rather than a traditional campaign site.

  7. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    Michael Kokoski is a candidate who is not part of the Duopoly!

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