President Joe Biden and the excesses of woke progressive radicalism are not the two brands many Democrats running for office in 2022 want attached to them. In Missouri, Lucas Kunce is running for a US Senate seat as that most exotic of political creatures: an America First populist Democrat.
If only it were that easy. Merely tweeting out a message such as “American Workers First. Always,” as Kunce did on Feb. 20, is bound to rattle the cages of progressives in the party ranks who see such language as code for wanting to deport illegal aliens and other monstrous evils.
Kunce is an interesting candidate in that his attempt at striking a blue-collar Democrat chord appears to go beyond the political realities of the day. Missouri has not only turned stridently red in recent years but also has enthusiastically supported former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda. Trump won the Show-Me State by double digits in both 2016 and 2020.
Trust-Buster in Blue
Kunce seems sincere in his populist approach. In 2020, he became director of national security policy for the American Economic Liberties Project (AELP), a left-leaning think tank dedicated to fighting “today’s crisis of concentrated economic power.”
“[W]e take on the corporate monopolists who control our lives, squeeze normal people out of commerce, and enrich Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. We fight the pharmaceutical cartels, defense prime contractors, agri-business monopolies, and big tech. We fight to empower workers in their workplaces,” Kunce declares of AELP on his official campaign website.
Liberty Nation doesn’t take a stand on whether voters should support or oppose specific candidates, but Mr. Kunce’s statements may raise concern among conservative voters. Things get tricky when it comes to the details, you see. Click on the “issues” button on the Kunce campaign site and the word “corporate” can be found littered throughout. But a few words you won’t see are “immigration,” “border,” or “illegal aliens.”
For a man who tweets about putting American Workers First, stating a position on illegal immigration would seem a must. But this is the problem confronting would-be pro-American worker progressives. It is a lesson Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) learned when she first rose to prominence in Democrat ranks in the early 2000s.
It’s hard to remember now, but Warren once had a lot of good things to say about the economic struggles of regular Americans. In 2004, she wrote a book titled The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke, which had the temerity to suggest that American families should be able to get by on one paycheck. Naturally, this led to backlash from feminists who saw it as harking back to the days of women stuck in the kitchen with a baby on each arm. Economic hardship takes a back seat to progressive social engineering in Democrat circles.
A look at Warren’s wild-eyed social leftism today shows she got the message. One gets the feeling Kunce does too.
Kunce likes to assert that controversial issues of the day are manufactured by elites to keep Americans divided and thus more ripe to be exploited. That may be true up to a point, but to use it as an excuse to dodge taking a stand on crucial matters is not tenable in the political climate of America today.
As Politico correctly noted in a splashy November 2021 “magazine” feature article on Kunce:
“To the extent that Kunce’s brand of anti-politics plays, it also has limits. When confronted with other issues destined to play a big role in Missouri’s general election — immigration, say, or how schools teach kids about race — he can come across like a student who skipped that part of the reading, pivoting quickly back to the evils of corporate power. If you’re a voter concerned about the border crisis or worried about a possible leftward, racialized drift in public-school education, it’s not necessarily persuasive to hear that these are non-controversies ginned up by shadowy billionaires to distract and divide the country, which is how Kunce tends to deflect such questions.”
And so he must drop hints. Kunce has espoused progressive orthodoxy on climate change, and although he has repeatedly stressed that he wants to be the candidate for working Missourians of all races, he has bent the knee to the Black Lives Matter crowd, as any Democrat running in a state that has St. Louis as its largest city surely must do.
“Lucas recognizes the reality that Black Missourians of all ages are more at risk of dying as a result of police use of force compared to white Missourians. But it doesn’t stop there — Black Missourians face unique challenges and inequities in school, in the workplace, in the criminal justice system, and in communities across our state and our country,” a paragraph devoted to BLM on the Kunce campaign website reads.
It’s the trap that keeps snapping shut on Democrat candidates for statewide or national office. Progressive shibboleths that must be acquiesced to in the primary season can’t be so easily shrugged off in a general campaign. If he becomes the party nominee in Missouri, Kunce will be asked about immigration by his Republican opponent. Vague answers about Wall Street shenanigans will not suffice. What is he going to say then?