Sunday, August 28, 2016

Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain

There is a giant sucking sound coming off Lake Champlain.

It’s the sound of Bernie Sanders operatives sucking Bernie supporters back into the corporate Democratic Party.

Take the case of Matt Funiciello.

Funiciello is the Green Party candidate for Congress in New York’s 21st Congressional district, fifty miles across Lake Champlain from Sanders’ new $600,000 summer home in North Hero, Vermont.

Funiciello is one of those articulate Greens who can bring it – in 2014, he received 11 percent of the vote against a corporate Democrat – Aaron Woolf – and Elise Stefanik, a young Republican who worked with the likes of Paul Ryan and Joshua Bolton.

Funiciello is a Nader Green – against the war machine, for closing the wealth gap, for single payer and for the $15 an hour minimum wage.

He’s running again this year, against the incumbent Stefanik and the corporate Democrat and former Republican – Mike Derrick.

Funiciello refers to Derrick as “an air dropped Republican – a lifelong Republican who just switched parties and who has espoused some fairly conservative views along the campaign trail.”

Turns out that Bernie Sanders’ successor organization – Our Revolution – was holding an “Meet Your Progressive Candidates” Forum in Albany August 25.

“Hear what they stand for,” the event notice declared. “Ask questions. Find out how you can help make sure that they, along with progressives running for office across the country, can win their elections and continue fighting for all of us.”

One problem.

Invited to the event was the corporate Republican turned Democrat – Mike Derrick – but not the guy with the life long Bernie positions and activism – Matt Funiciello.

Funiciello said that he was “confused” by Our Revolution’s decision to invite the Republican turned Democratic candidate since Funiciello was “the only progressive in his race.”

“As the only progressive in the NY-21 race, I had hoped to be given a chance to talk about my campaign to other progressives and the Capital District Bernie Sanders network, especially since so many people in my district who had backed Senator Sanders have voiced support for my campaign,” Funiciello said. “Many of them have asked me why someone who has spoken out consistently in favor of a $15-an-hour living wage, single-payer health care, a 100 percent renewable energy grid, a massive government public works program to get us to full employment, and the need to end our imperial wars overseas, would be excluded from such an event and not be given an opportunity to speak to the rank-and-file of this group. But the leadership of this informal group has firmly decided to invite only the Republican-turned-Democrat, Mike Derrick to speak.”

“And if this ‘progressive’ group is willing to stretch the definition of ‘progressive’ to include Mike Derrick, they may as well invite Elise Stefanik to speak, as well.”

Funiciello said when he asked Our Revolution organizers why he wasn’t invited, he was told his campaign was too “aggressive and divisive.”

“I have called Mike Derrick an air dropped Republican who worked in the State Department on missile defense,” Funiciello said.  “I’ve asked – why is this air dropped Republican spoiling the race? That’s me being hostile and aggressive? I consider it being honest.”

Funiciello is not the only independent or third party candidate with doubts about Our Revolution’s pledge to support the most progressive candidate in the race – Democrat or not. (The fish rots from the head down, as they say, and it was Bernie himself after all who endorsed the war hawk Hillary over the peace candidate Jill Stein.)

But Funiciello is the first known qualified Congressional candidate to be excluded by Our Revolution.

Put your ear to the ground.

Hear that giant sucking sound?

It’s Our Revolution sucking disappointed Bernie supporters back into the Democratic Party to support the likes of Mike Derrick and Hillary Clinton.

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