by Eric Goldin
I wrote a snarky article almost a year ago about the Justice Democrats. It painted them in a bad light, and many of my criticisms in it weren’t justified. I gave very little information and didn’t convey all the facts properly. It was one of the most juvenile things I’ve ever written. After doing more research about the Justice Democrats, I feel an obligation to do a proper analysis of this group. I still have some strong disagreements with them, but I want this article to be a fair assessment of their history and the policies they are championing.
Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election was the last straw for many progressive liberals. They were not only disgusted by the final results but were also furious at the overall incompetency of the Democratic party. They had finally seen enough and were ready to take action. They blamed Hillary Clinton and other moderate Democrats for not inspiring citizens to come out to the polls. Progressives said that Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric didn’t appeal to working-class people, which allowed Donald Trump the room necessary to attract and win over those votes.
For example, Hillary initially favored the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – an agreement between the United States and eleven other countries that would make trade much easier for corporations but would also guarantee that thousands of manufacturing jobs would be outsourced and put tons of Americans out of work. She later retracted her support of TPP by the time of the election, but her glowing words about the bill years earlier would come back to haunt her.
Donald Trump took a vehement Anti-TPP stance and promised to preserve American jobs. Trump’s natural savviness and instincts for what people want to hear is his greatest asset, and his masterful deduction skills of the public and their concerns about specific problems made Hillary seem out of touch by comparison. Hillary touted cliché empty platitudes and focused on trivial nonsense while ignoring the real needs of the American people. Trump outsmarted her on how he presented the issues and what he was going to do to help citizens. He did a much better job of captivating people in Rust Belt states such as Wisconsin and Michigan. Trump also benefited from Clinton’s neglect of Florida, and he took those vital electoral votes. Hillary’s apathy towards the residents in those states ended up being fatal and ultimately lost her the election.
After Trump triumphed over Clinton, a group of progressive liberals led by Cenk Uygur and Kyle Kulinski banded together in January 2017 and formed the Justice Democrats – a faction that they believed could defeat Republicans and also rejuvenate the humiliated Democratic party.
They have vowed to be true advocates for poor, working-class, and overall disenfranchised people. The Justice Democrats also want to win back liberal voters who have become disillusioned with the Democratic party and voted for Trump in 2016.
They have differentiated themselves from regular Democrats by advocating for positions that are much further to the left. Some of the main things they are fighting for include single-payer universal healthcare, a federal jobs guarantee, a living wage, protecting social security, free college, ending costly and unnecessary wars, prison reform, protection of women’s rights, protecting the rights of racial minorities, equality for LGBTQ people, and a Green New Deal. The full list of all their policy platforms can be found on their website https://www.justicedemocrats.com/.
The key thing that defines the Justice Democrats is they will not accept big corporate PAC money. The Justice Democrats want to get rid of the corruption in Washington, and they demand that anybody who runs under their banner not take money from billionaires and corporations. The main goal of the Justice Democrats is to make sure that lobbyists no longer control our government. They believe the best way to hold elections openly and honestly is if politicians only take small donations from regular people.
If this model becomes the standard in the future, it will ensure that elections are fair, and no candidate will get beholden to large funders. The Justice Democrats hope to one day completely reform campaign financing and end the days where politicians can be bought off.
Prominent members of the Justice Democrats have been asked why they chose to make their group an offshoot of the Democratic party and not just create a whole new organization from scratch. They’ve said the current system makes it very challenging for third parties to be successful in political campaigns. It would be almost impossible to combat the two major political parties in the United States with a completely new brand, so the founding members of the Justice Democrats decided that since their views align more closely with the Democratic party, they would make their group a division within that party.
But make no mistake about it – the Justice Democrats vehemently oppose centrist and moderate Democrats, and even though they’re technically in the same party, they are huge opponents. Leaders of the Justice Democrats have said that they will gladly give a primary challenge to any mainstream Democrat who doesn’t comply with a leftist vision.
Since their inception, the Justice Democrats have been very successful in their brief history. In the 2018 midterms, out of the 76 candidates who officially ran as or were supported by the Justice Democrats, twenty-six won their primaries and seven of them were victorious in the general election. For a group that has only been around for a short amount of time, they’ve had a ton of success.
By all measures, the Justice Democrats have triumphed in many ways; however, their image has been damaged by some horrendous in-fighting.
In late 2017 old embarrassing blog posts of Cenk Uygur resurfaced, where he wrote detrimental humorous remarks at the expense of women. Cenk deleted them a long time ago, but these words still plagued him.
The higher-ranking staff members of the Justice Democrats demanded that Cenk Uygur resign immediately from his leadership position because they believed that his former blogs – even though he wrote them two decades ago – were not a good reflection of their values, and they didn’t want to associate with him any longer.
Cenk Uygur apologized for his words and has said that he is not the same kind of person who would make those types of jokes anymore, but he didn’t dispute the decision and stepped down graciously. His primary concern is to ensure the success of the policies the Justice Democrats are championing, and he didn’t want to drag them down with an unnecessary battle. Cenk knows the movement is bigger than any one person. He willingly sacrificed himself to maintain the stability of the group.
However, shortly after Cenk resigned, the Justice Democrats released some statements where they called him a “sexist.” Kyle Kulinski, who is good friends with Uygur and opposed his resignation, was outraged at how Cenk got portrayed. As an act of protest, Kyle also left the Justice Democrats (but he still supports the candidates and the policies they are fighting for).
No matter how terrible Cenk’s past writing may have been, he’s a different man today than he was twenty years ago. He doesn’t stand by those words and has expressed great shame. Cenk Uygur has been very outspoken in favor of women’s rights and is a huge advocate for the fair treatment of women.
I personally feel the leaders of the Justice Democrats created an untenable situation for themselves. This absurd purity test hurts their image. When they do stuff like this, they come across as unreasonable authoritarians overly obsessed with identity politics. Many people who initially supported the Justice Democrats and donated money to them have back off and been completely turned away by their behavior.
In my opinion, the Cenk Uygur situation made the Justice Democrats look cruel and unforgiving. Those are harsh words, but I believe in that instance, they embodied all the negative stereotypes some people attribute to leftists.
The Justice Democrats can do a lot of good for the nation, but all their work will have been for nothing if they continue to eat each other alive.