It’s true: You can find plenty of progressives who feel betrayed by Maggie Hassan and want her primaried. I debate with them daily on social media.
But in the end, they will campaign for her nonetheless, and here’s why.
The success of the Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns — both here in New Hampshire and across the country — clearly demonstrated that at least half, if not more, of the Democratic electorate is in favor of progressive change.
Biden clearly got that message. He even got it in South Carolina, where he put an end to Bernie’s momentum as a candidate. Exit polling of Biden voters on policy issues demonstrated overwhelming support for everything Bernie had been fighting for. That’s why Biden gradually went from a centrist to a progressive on several of the most important issues during the presidential primary campaign, especially after winning the nomination.
And that’s why you’re watching progressives as the lead whips for his Build Back Better agenda. Biden knows his ultimate success depends on pushing that through.
One overlooked reason for his historic low approval rating now is Democrats feel he should have been able to get Build Back Better (BBB) through the Senate — either by swinging Manchin and Sinema, or by bringing over a couple of the Republicans he claims to have such a good relationship with. If he keeps a Democratic majority and adds two more Senators who will back his agenda, that gridlock will be broken and BBB will pass.
Moreover, Biden is likely to do so because come November, inflation will be on its way down and Democrats will be looking like saviors for having brought about the huge economic gains in wages, employment, and manufacturing post-pandemic. Biden will get the credit.
Notable among economists is that “core” inflation, measured by excluding the most volatile fluctuations caused by temporary spikes in fuel and food, is only about 4.5 percent. That’s similar to what it was in 1984 when the economy took off under Reagan. Even overall inflation has started to reverse direction slightly as supply chain issues resolve. As a result, the GOP tactic of tying Democrats, including Maggie Hassan, to Biden will backfire.
Which brings us to Sen. Hassan.
Maggie Hassan has proven she will back the BBB agenda, and that’s all that really matters. She can continue to vote 64 percent of the time with Republican Susan Collins, she can call for a gas tax holiday, more oil production, and even more border wall. It will be of no consequence as long as she holds the line on Build Back Better because, if that doesn’t pass, our last shot at stopping mortal climate change on an international level will have failed.
Absolutely nothing else will ever matter. We will all be doomed.
Progressives accept the IPCC report and understand that we need to demonstrate the courage to confront energy transformation in our own house in order to press the international community to follow suit. Maggie will vote for that in the end because Biden will continue to push it. Her flirtations with more centrist climate and border policies won’t get traction with this administration.
Sometimes politics is local, like Tip O’Neill said, and sometimes it is even personal. One thing both Maggie Hassan and Joe Biden have in common is that they are both approachable, and they are good listeners.
When Joe came to Berlin during his disastrous New Hampshire presidential primary, I approached him as a Democratic Committee member. I told him that his position on climate action was so dismal that I, and other progressive Democrats here, (mostly Bernie supporters) could not support his fossil fuel lobby climate position if he were the nominee. He listened to every detail of my argument with attention like I had never witnessed before. He confessed that he had been hearing the same thing from other activists and promised that if I stayed tuned to his campaign that he would eventually win me over on that issue.
He did. In the end, he adopted 90 percent of Bernie’s climate action platform and he appears to be sticking with it. I found him to be the most sincere and personable politician I had ever encountered.
Maggie is much the same way. She does not campaign with an entourage of politicos to run flak for her. She gets face-to-face with you and listens with undivided attention. She will not lie to tell you what she thinks you want to hear. Instead, she will show you respect for your difference of opinion, internalize what you tell her, and let you know why she has formed her position and what it would take for her to reconsider it. She is not in a hurry to move on if you have something to say.
Moreover, her office is always responsive to requests for constituent assistance, and she has demonstrated that she will even introduce legislation to address concerns that appear to have been overlooked. As a case in point: A local restauranteur slipped through the cracks of the COVID relief programs as he was not in business when COVID hit, but just organizing. Nonetheless, he experienced the same financial losses as other small businesses once he opened up. He contacted Maggie’s office with this dilemma, she recognized the need for amending the eligibility to include him and similarly situated businesses, and she got a change enacted to address it. As a result, his restaurant is an anchor now on Main Street.
Those actions go a long way with voters in Northern New Hampshire.