Guilt by Association: How the Peace Movement is hindered by antiwar MAGA Republicans like Joe Kent

Tonight I went to a fundraiser for Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who is running for Congress in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

Perez’s opponent is Joe “America First” Kent, a far right MAGA Republican endorsed by Donald Trump.  Kent appears frequently with Steve Bannon and with Tucker Carlson.  He supports crazy conspiracy theories. He has called the Covid vaccine an “experimental gene therapy” and wants to investigate Anthony Fauci and Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, which he continues to question. Kent allegedly had a Proud Boy on his payroll.

Kent defeated incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jaimie Herrera Beutler in the Republican primary, while coming in second place to Perez. Beutler had voted to impeach Donald Trump.

The 3rd Congressional District, near the Oregon border, is mostly rural and leans Republican, but Democrats believe Perez has a chance to win, because Kent is so extreme and because demographic changes and migration have made the district less Republican.

At the fundraiser incumbent moderate Democrat Suzan DelBene (WA-CD1) spoke on behalf of Perez. Before DelBene’s speech I asked her to sign Rep. Pramila Jayapal letter calling for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine. DelBene said she hadn’t heard of the letter. “There are so many letters going around, ” she said.  I explained, “There’s a risk of a nuclear war. Don’t we need a negotiated solution?” She replied that the U.S. can’t allow Putin to get away with taking land illegally.

DelBene’s rural district CD1 is adjacent to Pramila Jayapal’s district, the 7th, which encompasses most of Seattle. You’d expect Jayapal to ask her seatmate to support it, if her heart is in it and if she thinks there’s a chance that DelBene would support it.   Jayapal is the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. DelBene is Chair of the moderate New Democrat Caucus.

Here’s a photo of DelBene introducing Perez, who is seated.

Rep. Suzan DelBene introducing WA CD3 candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

There’s little appetite in the Democratic caucus for ending the war in Ukraine. That fact became abundantly clear at the fundraiser. Perez mentioned that Joe Kent opposes U.S. support for the war in Ukraine. Indeed, Newsweek reports: Trump-Backed Joe Kent Calls Putin’s Demands in Ukraine ‘Very Reasonable’. The attendees at the fundraiser basically booed and groaned when Perez mentioned Kent’s apparent support for Putin.

Hearing that, I lost all hope of talking more with DelBene about Ukraine.

Indeed, every Democrat in Congress (and Independent Bernie Sanders) voted for sending military aid to Ukraine.  But 11 U.S. Republican senators and 57 Republican House members voted against giving $40 billion towards Ukraine’s war with Russia (the U.S.’s proxy war with Russia). See Warning to Dems from antiwar conservatives: Dems:  militarism ‘is going to bite them pretty hard very soon’ and American Conservative’s Uncle Sam’s Long Trail of Wreckage. There are antiwar MAGA Republicans and antiwar libertarians but almost no antiwar Democrats in Congress nowadays.

Due to guilt by association, peace activists who call for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine or who point out how NATO expansion contributed to the crisis are marginalized.

Heaven help us!

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