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Abdul El-Sayed’s Campaign Is a Test for Leftism in the Midwest


Abdul El-Sayed’s Campaign Is a Test for Leftism in the Midwest

Nathan Robinson

Because Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed has been called “the new Obama,” it can be surprising to hear the first words of his stump speech: “Who here believes in democracy over corporate domination?” he booms, to an instant cheer from the standing room-only audience at a church in Ypsilanti. “Who thinks that we need new blood in places like Lansing and D.C.? And who believes that when we stand together, when we lift our voices, we will get that done?”


Democracy or Corporate Domination.

This will be a tough battle as the Duopoly Establishment will definitely lean towards Domination. Their Corporate Pimps won’t pay them, if they don’t.

So, be prepared to hear lots of lies from them.


To suggest that El-Sayed is somehow similar to the neoliberal war-mongering Obama is a failure of journalism.


El-Sayed sounds really good on the stump, but I have three gnawing thoughts. 1. In a match-up with the presumed GOP candidate, he is statistically tied in the polls, whereas his primary opponent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, is seven points ahead. 2. Like candidate Trump, he has no track record, only promises. 3. Being touted as the first Muslim governor is not consistent with NOT wearing your religion on your sleeve while serving the wider public.

Issues are important on a national level, but a Michigan governor has limited national reach. What a governor can most influence in 2020 is running a fair election with state rules and regulations. Rather than risk having another GOP governor, I think Whitmer will have to do.


Whitmer’s been running TV ads, haven’t seen one for Abdul.

Then again, I don’t watch much TV.

That said, my gut tells me corporate money will win this primary for Whitmer. Then, running as Republican Lite, she’ll lose to Schuette in November.


He has two ads running - you can see them on YouTube at


He had a long way to catch up - but I think he has an outside chance of winning tomorrow as things have became very volatile with the disintegration of Thanedar’s campaign. I wish him luck.


Good ads. Thanks.

Problem is, Whitmer has the campaign budget to blanket the airwaves, plus ‘dark money’ in the form of Build A Better Michigan, a 527 that is benefiting from a filing loophole that allows them to stall naming their funding sources until after tomorrow. They’ve run a lot of pro-Whitmer ads.

And Thanadar has spent $10 million of his own money to run lots of ads.

You are probably aware of my utter and complete disavowal of Democrats. Yet I’m thinking of voting for Abdul tomorrow. That would be my first vote for a Dem in a decade.

One last thing: As of today, Whitmer polls better against likely R candidate, Bill Schuette.


I agree that in a perfect world, I would prefer candidates for public office always work their way up from smaller local offices before going statewide or for President. But we aren’t in that world and the people with experience I have to choose from are usually quite unappealing so I consider people without experience (e.g. I voted for Nader in CA each time he ran). I’m not in MI so I have no say, but if I were I wouldn’t hold any lack of elected office against him. (Also see note below on El-Sayed’s previous government experience).

Here I agree - I’d prefer candidates never talked about religion and that the press never did either. But you say “being touted” not that El-Sayed himself is wearing his religion on his sleeve. I skimmed his web page and he isn’t headlining it anyway. I listened to the Intercept interview (https://theintercept.com/2018/08/04/abdul-el-sayed-michigan-governor/) where the interviewer brings it up and his answer seems pretty reasonable - as an athiest, I wouldn’t hold this against him either.

For me, I am practically a single issue voter on Medicare for All. If I run up against a war monger who is pro NIMA with an opponent who pushes the status quo on health care (like Clinton) who is pro peace (unlike Clinton), then I’ll have to take other issues into consideration - that is never the case though. So I have no use for candidates like Whitmer - we’ll see what the voters say tomorrow.


Agreed - Whitmer is a tough candidate for him to run against given her funding from both the insurance industry and the major unions.

I don’t think Thanadar’s money will buy him much considering his two major scandals (leaving those dogs to die at the chemistry lab and the meeting with the ad company when he was undecided whether to run as a Democrat or Republican and even said he’d be fine with taking any position on abortion that helped him win).

Basically, my hope is that Michigan’s open primary law will allow for a surge of independent and young voters that don’t typically vote in the Democratic Party primary. Anything over 30% would be an extremely strong showing for El-Sayed and position him as a strong progressive spokesperson that might get good media attention going forward (we need those too).


The polls look really bad for El-Sayed. Almost Cynthia Nixon bad. Based on the polls this was close race until fairly recently when Whitmer pulled way ahead of El-Sayed and the other candidate. Whitmer’s message seems to be what the voters want. What is she saying?


She’s saying ‘I’m the only candidate who can beat the Republican nominee.’

Just like Hillary did.


I join you in hoping he has staying power as a political activist.

But I worry that he’ll be co-opted by his party’s establishment wing.


If El-Sayed and the other latest darling of faux-progressives, Ocasio-Cortez, are what passes for “Left” these days, then no wonder there is no tru opposition to corporatocracy. Here’s an article about the latest sleazy sidestepping and misleading rhetoric being delivered by both these sheepdogs.

And before the mindless faithful begin dumping on me, no, I’m not a troll or a mole or a Trump supporter or any of the other vapid insults several commenters here at CD like to throw at those of us who question the dominant paradigm when it comes to defining progressivism and Leftist thinking. I’m just someone who has actual progressive principles and ideals and won’t accept these posers.


This is not an accurate test of “leftism”.

I know too many “leftists” who don’t support Democratic party candidates.

The two party duopoly is over.


For anybody in Michigan, PLEASE vote for this guy. He’s much better than Whitmer and he would stomp Schuette. There’s a lot of enthusiasm behind him and he would do far more to help our state than Whitmer. Whitmer is a lot like Hillary- she has a lot of incrementalist ideas, and according mlive, her idea of raising wages is by bringing defense contractors here.
But seriously, Schuette’s not a threat. He didn’t prosecute Snyder for Flint and he didn’t remove Line 5. Whoever our candidate is, we’re gonna crush this guy. The Republican candidates are spectacularly weak this year.


Our Republican candidates are absolutely terrible. Anyone could beat Schuette.


Too soon to make that call, Dude.

Whitmer is currently only up around +6 head-to-head against Schuette.


He’s the easiest Republican to attack. He’s from a very unpopular administration and didn’t shut down Line 5, endangering the Great Lakes. Even rich coastal Republicans might not even want him.
He also doesn’t have any populist appeal, not even the fake kind that Trump had. He won’t generate any excitement. Keep in mind though that for these polls, a lot of people are undecided.
If you don’t live in Michigan, it might not be so easy to see the giant target on the back of the Republicans- we can attack them on Line 5, school degradation, our terrible roads, selling endless amounts of Great Lake water to Nestle for almost nothing, Trump, etc. I can’t remember an easier environment for Democrats.


So Ocasio-Cortez (or El-Sayed for that matter) is no Ron Dellams. When the next Ron Dellams runs against a person from the DSA, we’ll talk. For now, I’ll take as many people like Sanders, Warren, Khanna, Gabbard, Ocasio-Cortez, etc. than I can get. Would I prefer them all to be as principled and vocal as Barbara Lee? - sure, but I care about results. When a resolution like the one Sanders and Mike Lee worked on to stop our immoral action on Yemen comes up again, I’m pretty sure we will have their votes. Someone like Whitmer? - less likely (yes, I know this is a Governor race so my example doesn’t apply - substitute whatever issue you want that isn’t Medicare for All - since on that issue they are more than explicit enough for me).


Maybe Putin won’t interfere with the governor’s race in Michigan like he did in the 2016 election.