This is a question I touched on briefly yesterday when going over a few of the results from New York’s Democratic primaries on Thursday. As is now widely known, political neophyte Julia Salazar handily defeated an eight-term Democratic incumbent in New York’s 18th state senate district. Her opponent’s chief “sin” in the eyes of progressives was accepting campaign contributions from real estate lobbyists. This upset victory isn’t what’s been making national headlines, however. As you’ve doubtless heard by now, Salazar fabricated virtually her entire life story, creating an autobiography which would be more palatable to her new Democratic Socialist friends than her actual history.
And yet the people in her district still showed up in droves and elected her with nearly 60% of the vote to represent them in the upper chamber of New York State government. Shouldn’t that be setting off at least some minor alarm bells? That’s the theme in an op-ed which was published in, of all places, the New York Times. Granted, the essay is from Bari Weiss, a recent import from the Wall Street Journal who drives liberals insane, but the fact that such a critique found its way into the pages of the Gray Lady at all highlights what a stunning story this is. (Emphasis added)
In the run-up to the election, only Citizens Union, a good government group, dropped its endorsement on the grounds that Ms. Salazar had provided incorrect information about her “academic credentials.” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on her support for the candidate, saying, through a spokesman, that she remained behind her “100 percent.” Cynthia Nixon, who in July called Ms. Salazar “the future of the Democratic Party,” never wavered, nor did the New York City comptroller Scott Stringer. And the Democratic Socialists of America threw its organizing support behind her.
A known liar is now heading to Albany. At least she’ll be in good company?
No matter how many things Ms. Salazar makes up, it seems unfair to liken her to our post-truth president, who lies on a much grander scale and who has the power to do far, far greater damage.
And yet, the willingness of Ms. Salazar’s supporters to look past her fabrications sounds eerily familiar to the justifications Trump supporters made in 2016: Yes, he’s distasteful and prone to exaggeration. But he’s promising to pass policies we like. Supporting him is a price worth paying in pursuit of our goals.
Yes, you can say that this is a state senate race which is a far cry from the global impact of the presidency, but Weiss points out an underlying truth which is hard to deny. The voters in this very progressive senate district are, without doubt, among the armies of liberals who constantly talk about the running list of lies uttered by the POTUS and bemoan the emergence of this new “post-truth presidency.” And this article appears in one of the loudest national and even international mouthpieces of liberalism which has been pushing this theme.
Rather than being some sort of outlier or even the root of the problem, isn’t Julia Salazar more of a symptom of something larger? I’ll actually agree with Weiss when she says that there are a lot of conservatives out there who find some of the President’s tweets and comments distasteful and a distraction from pressing issues, but still support him because he’s getting the job done. Salazar is similarly trudging off to Albany with an albatross of proven dishonesty hanging around her neck, but she’s promising to serve up the meal that the socialist wing of the party craves. Medicare for all (even if it bankrupts the state), taxing “the rich” for more social welfare programs, battling gentrification, abolishing ICE and emptying the prisons are all on her radar. And if she delivers on those promises, what’s a few hundred lies about her entire life, right?
What makes Salazar’s sins perhaps even worse is the uncomfortable fact that she’s peddling positions which were antithetical to her less than a decade ago. As Weiss reminds readers, it wasn’t all that far in the rear-view mirror when the candidate proudly proclaimed herself to be pro-life, a conservative Christian Zionist and a registered Republican. By the time she set up her run for office she was pro-abortion, an advocate of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and a warrior in the fight to “dismantle capitalism.” It’s true that people’s views can evolve over time as they take in new information, but Salazar is still in her twenties. All of this happened virtually overnight and it was an awfully convenient realignment to match the values of the community she needed to win over.
Post-truth politics is one thing. What Salazar has managed to pull off looks far more like the most successful snake oil sales rally seen in the modern era. And she’s being held up by progressives as yet another face representing the future of the left. Is this really something to celebrate?