Before you jump into the comments to yell at me for not voting, I did vote. I voted blue across the board and I voted on every race and every proposition and every initiative.
I also got swept up in the pressure to yell at people to vote before this year's midterms, but I did not feel good about it. And this is exactly why:
Progressive Dems back off "Abolish ICE" at first meeting since midterms
Not just Dems in general. "Progressive" Dems, they say.
"We are absolutely still going to be pressing that," said Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, the caucus co-chair. "However, I think our main goal of getting out of the gate is going to be the issues that we ran on across all districts — around healthcare, around good-paying jobs, around dealing with the culture of corruption."
Pocan, who in July released a statement saying ICE must be abolished, added, "I still think many of us still have issues of immigration reform as a very, very high priority."
This in itself doesn't sound bad, and I've already fielded excuses made for these "progressives" that they're just focusing on what they can do for now, since abolishing ICE will likely not be possible when they only have control of the House. I'm not saying that's not true. But here's the thing.
I'm on the old side for a Millennial. I remember the George W. Bush years. I remember how so-called progressive Democrats were horrified at the unprecedented powers that Bush gave himself following 9/11 via the Patriot Act and other legislation. I remember how hard they fought against it. They brought it up as much as conservatives brought up 9/11 itself.
Then Obama was elected president and people partied in the streets.
Then he kept those same powers for himself. Not only that, he and his Democratic congress renewed these powers so that he could go on to drone bomb thousands upon thousands of civilians in the Middle East. Suddenly, the Democrats didn't have much to say about the Patriot Act anymore. Now, those powers are just an accepted part of the presidency that Trump now gets to use to his pleasure.
This is what I have come to expect from the Democrats. They used "abolish ICE" as a rallying cry to get more votes, i.e. more power. Now that they have gained some power back, they're backing off. They don't want to abolish ICE and they never did. Why would they rid themselves of another arm of power and control?
Even Pramila Jayapal, a representative in my state who I had come to admire as possibly a real progressive, is backing off hardcore from the idea of abolishing ICE.
Pocan and two fellow Progressive Caucus leaders introduced legislation over the summer aimed at scrapping the agency. One of the lawmakers who introduced the legislation, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, took issue with the attention paid to the "Abolish Ice" slogan and wondered whether any of the assembled reporters had read her bill, which she said focuses on reforming the immigration system.
"I would really love it if all of you would read the bill and if you would report on what was in the bill and how we propose building immigration that is humane, where enforcement is transparent, saves taxpayers dollars, and is effective," Jayapal said.
In July, Jayapal's office issued a press release about the bill with the headline, "Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Terminate ICE and Transfer Critical Functions to Other Agencies."
Later Monday, Jayapal told reporters she had "never used" the "Abolish ICE" slogan. She said progressives "need to stop taking the president's frame for this issue."
"ICE is the agency that is not accountable, humane and transparent and effective. So I think that this agency as it exists is not doing a good job for us. That doesn't mean we are getting rid of enforcement overall, and I just think there's a real distinction between abolishing an agency and abolishing the function. And it would be great for people to just think about that," Jayapal told CBS News.
And so we go from real change to promises of "reform." What I hear in this is that maybe the name of ICE might change, maybe there will be an agency "shakeup," but the essential function of the agency will remain. Latinx people will still be profiled, harassed, brutalized, arrested, torn from their families, and sometimes murdered by U.S. officials who are largely white.
After the legislation was introduced over the summer, House Republicans tried to force a vote on the bill in an apparent effort to put Democrats on the record on abolishing ICE. The progressives responded by saying they would vote down their own bill and called the move a "political stunt," according to The Hill. The bill has not been considered on the floor.
This is why people feel like they're being forced to choose between a party of blatant, outward evil and one that only pays lip service to good but is happy to dance with the Devil in private.
Yes, there are many ways in which Democrats are far better than Republicans. But the Democrats, even those who acted like they might be real progressives, continue to let us down. This is why I don't feel good about yelling at people to vote for Democrats. I really don't want to look into the eyes of the black, Latinx, Native, and Middle Eastern people that Democrats string along time and time again only to toss them aside like a soiled sponge when they're not needed anymore. How many times are Democrats going to betray those of us who are the most oppressed, and how many times can I tell them to vote for Democrats anyway?
And before you tell me or said oppressed people that they should vote AND work to build dual power or do the incredible amount of work it would take to muscle a third party into our two-party system, you're gonna need to tell me what work you've done toward that goal. Then maybe tell the Democrats to stop fighting those efforts.
I'm not going to stop voting and I'm going to keep voting for Democrats. But if Democrats really want to keep our support, they need to stop betraying us. I think that's only fair. Seriously. Could there be a fairer statement than that? Just stop dangling liberation in front of our faces and then yanking it away. It's downright cruel.