Jun 21, 2023Liked by Jordan Zakarin

Excellent newsletter today.

2 questions (apologies if you've addressed these inquiries in past newsletters).

What is the problem with Durbin? Is he simply a fearful older man, terrified of attacks from the right? Or is he inept, an example of the Peter Principle, where Democrats value seniority over competence?

I know that NY has ruby-red pockets, but so does Michigan. Is Hochul simply far less nimble a politician than Whitmer, or is she simply in over her head as a governor, or other?

Expand full comment

Thank you for reading!

The modern Democratic Party has been described as a big tent coalition made up of supporters of various interests and ideologies. I’d say that extends to its lawmakers and leaders, as well.

Durbin and Hochul represent two different strains of infuriating Democrat. Durbin is the liberal institutionalist, someone who values government norms and traditions and believes that they, along with civil bipartisanship, are key to upholding democracy. While mechanics of government do sometimes help to stave off threats, they are worth little if government is overtaken by corrupt fascists and their enablers.

The liberal instituonalists have largely been in DC so long that they think Americans so deeply value these norms and traditions and appreciate the preservation of things like Blue Slips on judicial confirmations and public refusal to expose corruption on the court.

Durbin generally votes the right way, and as the Senate whip, he puts in effort to get good bills passed, too. But he won’t take action on the court because he believes it’s essential that Americans have full faith in a wildly corrupt group of ghouls.

As for Hochul, she’s just a pro-business Democrat who takes record-setting sums of money from deflects and landlords and every other millionaire under the sun.

She’s from Western New York, which is certainly more conservative, and she as a local official and then member of Congress, she held positions on immigration and guns that reflected it.

Hochul does have to worry about protecting Democratic reps from those places, but her catering to business interests and cultural conservatives on issues big and small goes far beyond anything that wouldn hurt incumbents’ standing.

Issues with rent prices are a statewide problem that she won’t address in any serious way that might cost developers or landlords, her patrons, a few bucks. Nominating a conservative judge to be chief Justice was an attempt to sneakily ensure a right-leaning check on the state government and hurts Dems through redistricting. Blocking health care for poor undocumented immigrants is a sop to Republicans. Refusing to raise taxes on the rich is a gift to her donors (and herself). And her keeping unions at arm’s length even after they saved her job in November in a state that overwhelmingly supports organized labor is defying her supporters and overall political wisdom.

These are all the decisions of someone who is just uninterested in leading a very blue state into a progressive future, and instead eants to preserve the vastly unequal status quo.

Expand full comment

Thank you for the comprehensive response.

Durbin has very strong 'Garland vibes' - both men misread the room. Strengthening norms ignored by one party serves only to further weaken the institutions. Lincoln took the country to war to preserve our values, Durbin won't even eliminate blue slips.

The Democratic party infrastructure in NY must be remarkably inept. They lost 5 Congressional seats in 2022, losing the House, and backed Hochul (who barely defeated a Republican) and Adams.

Expand full comment

Hi Jordan,

I really enjoy reading your reports…thank you. However, you badly need a proofreader (Thomas Alito?), and I am offering to audition for the job. I’m retired, and would do it gratis.

Expand full comment

Damn yeah that’s really embarrassing, I don’t know how that happened. Fixing now.. want to email me? Jordanzakarin@gmail.com.

Expand full comment