A diary at Daily Kos makes the case for Representative Maxine Waters of California as the Democratic standard bearer. It’s a good case; she is a tough, smart, fearless advocate who has not spent her 30 years in Congress going along to get along, but has been a fighter for progressive politics even in the most hostile environments, and even when it meant going up against her own party.
There is one aspect of the diary that could have been stronger, however. The diarist includes a lengthy bullet list of admirable actions and votes by Waters, introducing it with, “Where does she stand on the full spectrum of progressive issues? See for yourself.”
But upon examination, the list turns out to be somewhat thin on core progressive economic issues, such as trade, Wall Street regulation before the mortgage meltdown, union organizing, and minimum wage; as well as on foreign policy. So, I thought I’d take a look and see how she stacked up on a somewhat fuller full spectrum of progressive issues. And it turns out she’s awesome!
- Voted against NAFTA
- Voted against Glass-Steagall repeal (Gramm-Leach-Blilley)
- Led a the first Congressional delegation to visit Cuba, in 1999
- Voted against CAFTA
- Co-sponsored Single Payer Medicare for All bill
- Voted against War in Iraq
- Voted against the Financial Services Act of 1998 (I’d never actually heard of this bill before I started digging; I just know that the name “Financial Services Act of 1998” scares the fertilizer out of me.)
- Co-sponsored the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007
- Voted Yes on Withdrawing from WTO
- Founded the Congressional Out of Iraq Caucus
- Voted against Most Favored Nation Status for China
- 100% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO
- Voted against the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005
- Voted against Fast Track Authority
- 0% lifetime rating from the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute
Representative Waters has developed a national following recently, emerging Bernie-like from decades of left-wing obscurity to become a prominent leader in the party in this era of the anti-Trump resistance. It is a role to which she is brilliantly suited. Maxine Waters is a fighter, and exactly the kind of strong economic progressive that supporters of Bernie Sanders should rally behind. I want to be in her fox hole, and a lot of people agree.
But it’s worth noting that this standing up as the principled resistance is nothing new to Waters. She was the resistance in the 1990s, when standing up for a pro-worker, single-payer, anti-“free trade,” anti-“financial modernization” platform was not nearly as welcome in the Democratic Party as it is in 2017. Maxine Waters is a principled progressive from way back. And she can do this.