Bloc Party
Bloc Party
Justice Democrats
Bloc Party is a show about the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party, featuring progressive champions challenging the status quo from inside the halls of power and the organizers transforming the party’s agenda from the outside.
2022 Primaries: The Empire Strikes Back
It’s Sunday June 26th, 2022 – two days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – and President Joe Biden knows what he needs to do.Biden needed to announce his endorsement to Rep. Danny Davis, the 25-year incumbent in Chicago’s bluest Congressional district, IL-07. Two days before polls opened in a primary contest between a quarter-century incumbent and Kina Collins, a grassroots organizer against gun violence in Rep. Davis’ district, Joe Biden needed Democrats to know: the party’s old guard deserves to stay in power. On election day, Kina Collins lost by a 7-point margin.And that pretty much sums up the Justice Democrats 2022 primary cycle. Almost every race came down to the wire. At the end of every nailbiter showdown, corporate money and establishment Democratic leadership pulled out all the stops (and all the money) to keep young, progressive Democrats from representing their own communities in Congress… while President Biden’s agenda was gutted in public by the anti-majoritarian Supreme Court and U.S Senate.In this episode, Amira talks with Campaigns Director Geoff “Coach” Simpson, Candidate Communications Manager Usamah Andrabi, and Rebel Alliance Director Alexandra Rojas about what the political left has learned – or needs to learn, at the tail end of another Justice Democrats primary cycle. What’s changed since summer 2020, when Jamaal Bowman beat Engel by double digits despite the late establishment rush to save the incumbent? And Cori Bush won her rematch primary by a slim but decisive margin? Are we losing ground? Getting outspent, or just out maneuvered? Hard to know with certainty, but the Empire is Striking Back and it’s time for some Rebels to retrieve the Death Star plans..
Jul 20
59 min
Started At The School Board, Now It's Congresswoman Lee
She can relax a little now. The PA-12 results are certified. The victory is locked in. So current State House Rep. Lee, the expected Congresswoman-elect from Pennsylvania’s 12th district, sat down with Amira Hassan to tell us the WHOLE story.How did Summer Lee get so deep in the progressive political revolution brewing in Pittsburgh? What does it actually look like to build grassroots power by organizing at the local level, and electoralize that power up to the state house and ultimately Congress? What is it like to grind out a victory after your opponents drop $3.3 million dollars to defeat you, ALL within the last three weeks before Election Day, and all aimed at defeating your campaign? Summer breaks it down: the early victories before she ever thought of becoming a candidate, the MVPs of well-meaning white guy political operatives, what it was like to campaign through negative ads blanketing local TV and radio, and more.Amira roasting Steve Irwin in March:
May 31
53 min
Campaign Breakdown: How Summer Lee Beat the Ads
In the final weeks before Pennsylvania’s May 17th primaries, SuperPACs affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee spent millions of dollars in the 12th district, nearly all on TV ads attacking Summer Lee and boosting corporate lawyer Steve Irwin.Summer Lee narrowly won. How? And what might other progressive candidates, campaign managers, communications strategists, and organizers learn from the resilience of the Summer Lee for Congress campaign? Also, what to make of the increasing sums of outside money spent against Justice Democrats in these competitive primaries?To get the inside scoop on the tactics and strategies that mattered, Guido sat down with Justice Democrats campaign director and former pro basketball player Geoff Simpson for another episode of Campaign Breakdown with Coach Geoff.For more on the May 17th primaries and the factional scoreboard, see the Washington Post story “In Tuesday’s primaries, Democrats’ left and center wings both got wins” by Perry Bacon Jr.
May 24
23 min
Build Back Never: What the Hell Happened to Biden's Agenda?
Group Chat is back with Guido, Amira, and returning guest Mary Small (National Legislative Director of Indivisible) to process what f*** happened with President Biden’s Build Back Better bill.When did Build Back Better die? It died when the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan infrastructure package – but wasn’t it doomed before then? Could the negotiations over Biden’s domestic agenda in 2021 have gone any differently? Did progressives fail? What lessons can we learn from how the progressive bloc strategy played out? In what moments could Biden, Schumer, or Pelosi have approached their own legislative strategy differently? Then we take bets on whether anything at all will pass through budget reconciliation before the 2022 midterm elections.
May 17
54 min
The Last Takes of an Ex-Campaign Director
A bonus group chat with two seasoned professionals of the political left.Two operatives who went up against the Cuellar machine in TX-28 share stories from the frontlines and pitch some provocative theories.In the DMs: Ava Benezra, the organizer who’s been driving the JD campaign machine since before The Plague began. We recorded just after she'd worked her last day as the (former) JD campaigns director. Alongside Ava, a Bloc Party debut for the leftist comms professional who’s tracking the press coverage of Democratic party politics and contested primaries every day of the year: Usamah Andrabi.
Mar 20
19 min
Texas Post-Game Analysis feat. Coach Geoff
The first big Democratic primaries of the 2022 cycle are done. The voters of Texas’s 35th and 28th Congressional districts have cast their ballots.Topline results: A big win, and an excruciating close-tie. What does it all mean?Justice Democrats campaign all-stars sifted through the results, read the post-election hot takes, and now we’re bringing Group Chat back together to make sense of it all. Do these Texas primaries tell us anything important about the left in American elections, what works and what doesn't? What did we do well, where did we disappoint ourselves.. ?Before Group Chat, I sat down with Justice Democrats’ new campaign director Geoff Simpson to break down the numbers and look back on the strategies that really mattered on a new season 2 segment: Campaign Breakdown.. with Coach Geoff.
Mar 15
39 min
What's The Matter With South Texas?
It’s time. The rematch for Texas' 28th Congressional district: Cisneros vs. Cuellar.Human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros, who fell 2,700 votes short of unseating incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar in March 2020, joins us to talk about how she recovered from a tough, narrow loss and why this race may still come down to The Wire.But first, Waleed Shahid takes on a new role as a private investigator, reporting on shady deals and probable crimes committed by the ruling Congressman of Texas’ 28th District.In the second half, Professor Ian Haney-López sits down with Waleed to answer questions that no one in the Democratic Party can agree on: What’s going on with Latino and Hispanic American voters shifting towards Trump and the GOP since 2016? How might Democrats approach issues of race, class, and identity differently, in an effort to construct a multiracial majority?JESSICA CISNEROS FOR CONGRESSVolunteer with Justice Democrats.Readings & citations:Jessica Cisneros Takes Her Second Shot at the King of LaredoAFTER FORGING TIES WITH AZERBAIJAN OIL EXECUTIVES, REP. HENRY CUELLAR PUSHED NATION’S AGENDA IN CONGRESSHenry Cuellar’s Corporate TiesDemocrats Are Anxious About 2022 – and 2024Democrats Find Urgent New Reasons to Worry About Latino VotersWhy Democrats Are Losing Texas LatinosMapping the Trump Meridian in TexasHow Latinos Could Redefine the GOP in TexasTrump didn’t win the Latino Vote in Texas. He won the Tejano vote.Project JUNTOS study of Latino racial identity.EQUIS 2020 Post-Mortem Study: The American Dream Voter.Ian Haney-Lopez on Twitter.
Feb 14
1 hr 13 min
Bloc Party 2: Feel Bad Better
Build Back Better is dead. The Group Chat is resurrected.Welcome to Bloc Party Season 2.New episodes dropping twice a month, starting this week. Text your friends, call your representative, subscribe & share wherever you get your podcasts:⏯ 🟪
Feb 6
2 min
Bloc Party 201: Advanced Tactics
Putting the bloc back in Bloc Party.Freedom Caucus. Progressive Caucus. Blue Dogs. Why do we care?Justice Dems spokesperson and co-host Waleed Shahid sits down with Ruth Bloch Rubin, author of Building the Bloc: Intraparty Organization in the US Congress. Ruth tells Waleed that size matters when it comes to congressional voting blocs, but bigger isn’t always better. What can we learn from Congressional ideological factions of the 20th and 21st centuries? Why and how did they succeed and fail in their own goals? Why is collective action exceptionally difficult in the U.S Congress? Amira Hassan, JD’s political director, joins Waleed to break down why Congress is the place where solidarity goes to die.Readings & clips:Ruth Bloch Rubin’s book BUILDING THE BLOC.Robert McCormick, NBC, on Hon. Lee Metcalfe and Democratic Study Group. 1960.“Meet the Blue Dog Democrats!”“Democrats have grown frustrated with Blue Dogs..” Chris Van Hollen on WAMU 88.5.Washington Unplugged, 07.15.09House progressives are building something new, exciting, and powerful
Aug 18, 2021
1 hr 1 min
Why is the AFL-CIO falling in love with DSA's PRO Act campaign?
Is the AFL-CIO falling in love with the Democratic Socialists of America? Why is DSA’s PRO Act campaign drawing praise from unlikely allies in mainstream unions, the Democratic establishment, and beyond? What have these young socialists figured out about organizing towards working-class power? And why did this campaign come from [checks notes] DSA’s Green New Deal campaign committee?Guido joins Daniel Denvir, host of The Dig Radio from Jacobin magazine, to investigate DSA’s groundbreaking organizing effort to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act) Act.FIRST, The Dig interviews Gustavo Gordillo and Sydney Ghazarian from DSA's GND campaign committee on the origins and tactics of their PRO Act campaign.AFTER THE BREAK, Dan joins Guido for a very special, all-DSA Group Chat to chop it up on movement strategy and labor history with Green New Deal campaign committees members Thea Riofrancos and Ashik Siddique.Join DSA’s PRO Act campaign here: pro-act.dsausa.orgSupport The Dig Radio: and references:House Democrats Pass Bill That Would Protect Worker Organizing EffortsThe Dig Radio: We Need the PRO Act with Jimmy WilliamsHow the filibuster goes downThe racist roots of Right-to-WorkTo win a Green New Deal, pass the PRO ActWHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON, by Thomas Geoghegan
May 31, 2021
1 hr 40 min
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