Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Marty Party Rides Again

I really have to stop calling him Marty - he doesn't like the nickname - but yes, Martin O'Malley is back!
O'Malley isn't back in the presidential race, mind you.  The former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore has made his first endorsement in a 2016 political campaign since suspending his own bid for the Presidency.  O'Malley is endorsing John Fetterman (above, left), mayor of the notoriously hard-luck Pittsburgh suburb of Braddock, Pennsylvania, for the Democratic nomination that state's U.S. Senate seat up for election this year.  Fetterman has been trying to bring his town back from the dead and supports a solidly progressive economic agenda, but the immigration issue is the main reason O'Malley is supporting him.
Fetterman's wife Gisele is an immigrant herself; her family came from Brazil felling violence and instability.  The family overstayed their visa and had to live in the shadows for years while Gisele's mother cleaned houses for living, sometimes twelve hours a day.  Though Gisele eventually received a green card, it should have been much easier than it actually was.  This obviously resonated with O'Malley, as he explained in an e-mail to his supporters:
"Throughout my service as [a] mayor, as [a] governor and [my] campaign for President, I never wavered on the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that our outdated and inhumane immigration laws no longer meet our economic needs, our national security imperatives, or most importantly, our values as a people. I believe that we need to lead with the compassionate message and actions that have made us who we are: a nation of immigrants, bonded together by our diverse beliefs and traditions . . ..
"It's time we approached the issue of immigration with humanity and an understanding of how we have all been shaped by it, directly or indirectly. Once again, we must remember that the enduring symbol of our nation isn't the barbed wire fence - it's the Statue of Liberty."
O'Malley continues to fight for immigrants' rights, and he's clearly ready and willing to support any candidate for office who does.  Fetterman may have an uphill battle as tough as O'Malley's was; he's running in Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate primary against the reputable and respected retired Navy admiral and former Delaware County congressman Joe Sestak. But regardless of whom he endorses, O'Malley's official support for any down-ballot candidates is a smart move.  He is establishing a base of support and a network of contacts and allies to back him if and when he runs for the Presidency in 2020 or 2024.  As for endorsing either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (Fetterman backs Sanders), O'Malley should champion neither of them, as both of those campaigns - perhaps even the candidates themselves - ridiculed his own presidential bid when he was in the race.
But if O'Malley does run for President again, it likely won't be as a Democrat.  The way I see it, Donald Trump is likely to be our next President, and the Democrats will disintegrate because they will be bewildered and demoralized by Trump's election, just as, as historian David Jacobs once noted, the Whigs were by Franklin Pierce's election in 1852 (it will be the same reaction: "We lost to him???")   I continue to believe that a new, progressive party has to replace the Democrats because the Democratic Party is intellectually and politically spent.  And by connecting with true-blue progressives farther down the ballot, Martin O'Malley may be helping to build that new party now.  

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