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Froma Harrop commentary: The Left Fringe almost always loses

Summary: Had Cuellar lost to Cisneros in the Texas primary, the results would not have been a new lefty in Congress but another Democratic seat lost to a Republican. Smart progressives know that real power comes from supporting candidates, who, even if not their ideal, can get elected.

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Bernie Sanders.
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It's not just Republican voters who are defending a few honest members of their party against right-wing assault. Democrats have pushed back left-wing jihads against their moderates. Note the failure to knock off a conservative Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar, in a recent primary.

This should not have surprised anyone familiar with his South Texas district. Nor should it have shocked those who have followed the string of hard-left losses in more liberal places, like Los Angeles and New York City.

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Froma Harrop Commentary
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Lazy elements in the political media still persist in describing this noisy but small group as "the energy of the Democratic Party." Will they ever wake up to the fact that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders draw their power mainly from the batteries in their megaphones, not the Democratic electorate?

Both trooped down to Cuellar's border community to push their candidate, Jessica Cisneros, over the line. Cisneros is an immigration lawyer who calls for easing immigration controls. Though heavily Mexican American, people in the district worry about the strains posed a chaotic border brings their way.

Cuellar is anti-abortion and a moderate on gun control. These stands tend to be uncontroversial in socially conservative parts of Texas. Cuellar thus had the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who argued, correctly, that the party should accept diverse opinions on abortion. That his politics fit his district was no small matter.

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It would appear that Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders and Seattle's uber progressive showboater Rep. Pramila Jayapal don't have much pull in Cuellar's congressional district. Nor does Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who went there to exert her nonexistent influence.

Although the far left has long fancied its endorsements as electoral gold, recent history tells us they are of interest mainly on left-wing Twitter. Recall how Ocasio-Cortez and Warren famously rallied behind a defund-the-police candidate for New York mayor. In coming in third, she lost not only to a moderate Democrat, but to two.

The left's considerable experience with defeat has not made it a good loser. Even before the vote in Texas, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "If Cuellar wins, leadership's decision to go to the mat for a pro-NRA incumbent will be the reason why."

Guess the voters don't have a say.

For the record, Cuellar supports expanding background checks for gun buyers, which, outside the big cities, is a fairly progressive stance in Texas. Ocasio-Cortez would have known his actual position had she read the local news -- or, for that matter, The New York Times.

It happens that Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders and other self-described socialists have their own party. It's called the Democratic Socialists of America. But if they ran under that label, no one would pay them any mind. That's why they latch onto the Democratic Party. Once there, the saboteurs define successful conquest as exacting revenge on Democrats they don't like.

The left-leaning media tend to ignore the fringe's parade of losses, even in primaries dominated by liberal voters. They seem more interested in the players' performance than their political reality. Right-wing media, meanwhile, can't get enough of these outliers. What would Fox News do without the squad?

The few far-left victories occur in very liberal districts, where jobs are plentiful and health coverage relatively easy to obtain. Life in these places is good, whoever runs Washington. For the political celebrities, there are parties. There are fashion events. There are cover stories in Vanity Fair.

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Had Cuellar lost to Cisneros in the Texas primary, the results would not have been a new lefty in Congress but another Democratic seat lost to a Republican. Smart progressives know that real power comes from supporting candidates, who, even if not their ideal, can get elected.

Froma Harrop can be reached at fharrop@wctrib.com or on Twitter @FromaHarrop .

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Froma Harrop covers the waterfront of politics, economics and culture with an unconventional approach. She takes public policy quite seriously. Herself, less so.


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