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Squad In Trouble As Bowman And Bush Struggle In Primaries

Much-needed course correction

During the 2018 midterms of Donald Trump's presidency, four women were elected to the House, a barometer of the public's mood toward Trump. All results were improbable, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan followed a brilliant playbook devised by the Justice Democrats, an ultra-Left Wing progressive and socialist fringe group of the Democratic Party - and won.

The candidates were chosen for their extreme positions on immigration, climate change, racial and social justice, capitalistic greed, and foreign policy. The districts were heavily Black and Brown, ensuring that a Democrat would win in the general election no matter who appeared on the ballot. The playbook's trick was to run these extreme candidates in the Democratic primaries and unseat incumbents, mostly left-of-center, who had been winning without having to do much other than perhaps secure a Congressional appropriation to spend some federal dollars in their districts.

The four stars immediately became known as the Squad and became notorious for advocating ideas in front of cameras that were hitherto not even whispered in private company. The more extreme their utterances, the more their social media following became, giving them even more air time on broadcast networks. In fewer than 18 months, with their re-elections assured, having won in ultra-safe districts with advantages of 20 plus points among registered Democrats, the Squad fanned out around the country to help elect more of their ilk.

In 2020, as the nation was engrossed in Covid, George Floyd, and the confusion around 100+ last-minute changes to every aspect of the 2020 election, two other ultra-left-wing radicals - Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri - also won unlikely victories. Having been heavily endorsed and supported by the Squad, the Squad was growing in strength and visibility. Indeed, after the 2022 midterms, Greg Casar of Texas, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, and Delia Ramirez of Illinois ran on similar ultra-Left positions, followed the Playbook to the T, and won, increasing the Squad's strength to nine in a House where the Democrats had been returned to a minority.

Now, the Squad is in trouble - big trouble.

As New York's 16th district votes in the state's primaries on June 25, Jamaal Bowman risks losing to Westchester County Executive George Latimer, with Latimer leading by 17 points, according to an Emerson College poll. In Missouri, under DOJ investigation for misappropriating federal funds to hire her boyfriend to a security role, Cori Bush was lagging behind her opponents in a three-way August primary. A February poll showed her losing by 22 points.

Members of the Squad losing? No one saw that headline coming because they represent such safe districts that they should be assured of returning to Washington no matter what they did. And they did do things that were not worthy of representing their constituents in the People's House.

Jamaal Bowman, who as a Democrat did not vote for either Obama or Hillary because he thought they were too conservative, faced controversy for pulling a Capitol fire alarm when there was no emergency. He had also faced criticism for spreading conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks on his blog in 2011. After the deadly murders of innocent Israeli civilians on October 7, Bowman made statements that downplayed reports of sexual violence during the Hamas attack, comments that he later reversed after the United Nations confirmed the incidents.

Rashida Tlaib was censured in the House for statements about the Israel-Hamas war. She defended the chant "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which is code for giving Palestinians control of all land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and the elimination of the state of Israel. Tlaib has been accused of racism and anti-Semitism for several comments, many of which have centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ilhan Omar, in June 2021, seemed to equate the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban. In 2019, Omar tweeted, "It's all about the Benjamins baby," invoking slang about $US100 bills and an anti-Semitic trope involving Jews and money. She was removed from a committee over her past comments about Israel.

AOC revels in being controversial. She visited the Southern Border when Trump was president and attacked him for separating families. But she had little to say when 11 million illegals flooded the country, including her district, bringing a crime wave and quality of life crisis to New York City not seen in decades. In an interview on "Face the Nation" on September 24, 2023, AOC expressed concern about the inequality crisis and the wage decrease workers have experienced over the last 10 to 15 years. Yet, she was the champion who led protests against Amazon and led the giant to abandon establishing a second headquarters location in New York, which cost New Yorkers tens of thousands of jobs and the city billions in tax revenues.

If Jamaal Bowman loses on Tuesday, the Squad will suffer a devastating defeat. To prevent this humiliation, Bowman was joined by AOC and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chief Socialist among them all, in campaign events over the weekend. Social media clips showed sparse crowds, who had gathered more to see the theatrics of Bowman and AOC on the stage as they jumped up and down rather than engage in astute political conversation.

And if Cori Bush loses in Missouri, that would handicap the Squad even more.

It is about time the Squad was brought in line by the very people who elected them. A course correction was sorely needed.

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