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BAD BLUES: Some of the House Democrats Who Deserve to Be 'Primaried'

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Unlike most Jewish Democrats, who are often willing to question the actions of Israel, Vargas says it's wrong to do so. (His district is estimated to be less than 1 percent Jewish.) When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was under attack earlier this year, Vargas -- who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee with Omar -- injected himself into the controversy by tweeting that "questioning support for US-Israel relationship is unacceptable."

In January 2017, Vargas criticized President Obama-- and sided with President-elect Trump-- when the Obama administration refused to veto a UN resolution against Israel's expansion of illegal settlements. Israeli expansion does not seem to bother him, as evidenced by a bizarre quip made last November to the San Diego Jewish World : "Vargas says he has absolutely no objection if Israel is made to return to its 67 borders -- just so long as the people demanding it are talking about the year 67, not the year 1967." Vargas was quoted: "If you want to go back to 67, that will probably take in Lebanon, parts of Syria, Jordan and some portions of Egypt."

In 2015, Vargas was one of the 25 House Democrats to join all Republicans in opposing President Obama's landmark nuclear agreement with Iran; like other pro-Israel hardliners, he remains against the Iran deal in the Trump era. He was one of the few Democrats who repeatedly undermined Obama's diplomacy by joining Republican efforts to sanction Iran.

Vargas joined with a Republican in early 2015 as lead co-sponsor of a trade bill -- drafted by the Israel-right-or-wrong AIPAC lobby-- aimed at countering the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. That same year, Vargas tried (unsuccessfully) to stop a lecture at Mt. San Jacinto College by an Israeli critic of Israel, author Miko Peled, sponsored by the campus Amnesty International Club.

Vargas can be liberal on domestic US issues. But while the Congressional Progressive Caucus includes 50 House members of color (half of its total), Vargas instead is in the corporate-allied New Democrat Coalition. Last year, he did not join the dozens of progressives who voted against Trump's swollen military budget that diverts vital resources from human needs. In the last election cycle, a hefty $337,500 -- half of his PAC donations -- came from the "FIRE" sector (finance, insurance, real estate).

A progressive challenger focused on constituent concerns might thrive in a primary against Vargas.


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Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy and the national coordinator of RootsAction.org.

Sam McCann is a writer and researcher whose recent projects include Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 .

Pia Gallegos is communications chair of the Adelante Progressive Caucus, Democratic Party of New Mexico, a member of the state party's Rules Committee and a civil rights attorney.

Jeff Cohen is the founder of the media watch group FAIR and co-founder of RootsAction.org

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

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