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Desperation: Florida Democrats File a Lawsuit to Take Sanders Off Primary Ballot

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Courthouse News Service reported on Democrat’s latest efforts to derail 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

Democrat voters in Florida’s Panhandle filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 contending that Sanders should be listed as an independent candidate for the state’s primary on May 17 because he’s technically not a Democrat.

Veterans and lifelong Democrats Frank Bach and George Brown filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court. Their complaint argues that Florida law requires a candidate to run for the party that they are affiliated with.

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Tallahassee-based lawyer Karen Grievers wrote the filing. The two plaintiffs assert that having Sanders on the Democratic ballot will “adversely affect their right to have the Democratic presidential preference primary limited to those who are, in fact, Democrats.”

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The complaint named Sanders, the Florida Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee and Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee as defendants. The suit mentioned that Florida has a closed primary system, which means residents must be registered members of a political party to vote during the primary.

“Defendant Sanders is clearly an Independent, and is clearly not a Democrat, by his own definitions,” the lawsuit declared. “His current ‘day job’ is as a United States senator and he has consistently, proudly asserted his service in that role as Independent; he is one of two Independents identified as serving in the Senate.”

Bach and Brown also alluded to Sanders’ current fundraising campaign for his upcoming Senate election, when he will run again as an Independent, as grounds for being taken off the ballot. The lawsuit features copies of the Vermont senator’s recent campaign finance information demonstrating how he’s raised slightly under $1 million thus far for his 2024 reelection effort.

“In this day and age of increasing disregard for the law, it is essential that the [plaintiffs have the] right to vote and select from true Democrats in the March 17 Democratic presidential preference primary without dilution of the effect of their votes,” the complaint stated.

The two voters are petitioning a state judge to bar Sanders from the Democratic primary and prevent Secretary of State Lee from certifying any votes cast for him during the election.

In an email statement, Sanders spokesperson Kolby Lee said the campaign knows about the “spurious complaint” but that it will not affect the candidate’s status in Florida’s primary.

“Bernie will be on the ballot in Florida,” Lee said.

However, in a phone interview, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Grievers, emphasized that this wasn’t a politically motivated lawsuit, but rather an attempt to make Sanders follow the rules.

“The law matters and peoples’ rights matter,” she asserted.

Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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