Opinion - In Defense of Congressman Bera: Part 1

By Dan Schmitt | February 10, 2016 |  Some of my Progressives compatriots are upset with Congressman Bera, charging him with bein...

By Dan Schmitt | February 10, 2016 | 

Some of my Progressives compatriots are upset with Congressman Bera, charging him with being “insufficiently progressive.” This has culminated in a group of Democratic activists, “the Sacramento Democrats for Truth (SDFT),” successfully blocking Bera’s endorsement at the California Democratic Party Pre-endorsement Caucus held on January 31, 2016.

These Democratic activists say that many of Bera’s votes in Congress do not adequately support the will of the delegates and the people he represents in the 7th Congressional District. They accuse him of voting more like a conservative Republican. The problem with this thinking is that it ignores political demographic reality.

It’s true that Bera doesn’t always vote like we Progressives think he should, and he does lack leftish purity. But, when one ponders the question, “Who exactly are the people Bera represents?”, the answer takes shape. The voter registration in the 7th Congressional District breaks down as follows: 38% Democrat, 36% Republican, and 26% Decline to State or Other. Now, I know quite a few Democrat and Decline to State voters, and, truth be told, they are not like me! They’re not especially progressive, and they’re as likely to vote for a Republican candidate as they are for a Democratic one. They don’t see issues like the Syrian refugee vetting as I do either.

Bera represents those centrist Democrat, Republican and Decline to State voters too. If he were to always vote as we wish, he’d never get reelected. I’m a high school baseball coach, so let me make an analogy here: Congressman Bera won the last two elections in extra innings by wild pitches! That’s how close they were. Bera represents, unequivocally, one of the most contested congressional districts in the country.

I even hear rumors on the Progressive streets that some think it would be better for Republican Scott Jones to win the 2016 7th Congressional District race. Then, in 2018, a “Progressive Democrat in Shining Armor” can be drafted, ride into town on his/her white horse, defeat Jones, and everyone on the left will live happily ever after. My response to that is 38%-36%-26%!

Congressman Bera has cast over 1,900 votes since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, and when taken in their entirety, his votes represent a fairly progressive bent. In the realm of women’s health issues, Dr. Bera has voted to oppose legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, voted against legislation to criminalize abortion and to block access to it. In the area of immigration, Bera has supported comprehensive immigration reform and opposed Republican efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Congressman Bera has been a staunch supporter of dealing with climate change and improving the environment. He supports measures to reduce our country’s carbon emissions and opposed two Republican bills to block the EPA’s carbon emission standards for new and existing power plants. He opposed efforts by Republicans to overturn the Clean Water Act. And to restore an even playing field in our political process, Congressman Bera supports repealing Citizens United and supported an amendment to a Republican bill that would require the disclosure of secret political donors.

That doesn’t look like an overly conservative Republican voting record to me! I believe the majority of Dr. Bera’s constituents recognize that he has represented his district well and will support him in 2016. As a middle-of-the-road Democrat friend of mine recently said, “If these activists on the left are so livid at Congressman Bera that they want to take him to the progressive wood shed, he must be doing lots right. He’s got my vote!”

* This commentary represents my views on the Bera issue. I do not speak for the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club - Dan Schmitt

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I find the Sacramento Democrats for Truth operating in a selfish manner. Why are they doing this now?! Why did they not primary Dr. Bera and let the voters decide if there was a better choice? Why would we sacrifice this seat that we ALL have worked so hard to maintain. The seats in Congress are critical and in this Presidential election we cannot afford to loose anymore Dems in the House and or Senate. Donald Trump winning last night should be a loud bell for the Progressives. We cannot take anything for granted. I have been disappointed with several votes of Dr. Bera but I am a smart enough Progressive Democrat to not cut my nose to spite my face. And now this group is pitting Democrats against Democrats. Do they think Scott Jones is going to vote like Doris Matsui?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club turned its back on its own party by refusing to endorse Congressman Ami Bera. It is very presumptive to think that the voters who elected Dr. Bera to Congress are in agreement with this juvenile maneuver. As a lifelong progressive Democrat, I am not. We elected a free thinking, intelligent pragmatist. I will lobby the Congressman for what I believe in and other Democrats should do the same. But I resent that some are willing to give this election away when they don’t get their way.

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