Glenn Greenwald says that she has much to offer over the existing mediocre do-nothing Democratic incumbent in Maryland, but that has not stopped the Democratic party establishment from already trying to smear her presumably because of her radical politics.
While her whistleblowing made her a hero around the world, Manning has also now become an icon of LGBT equality and trans rights with an act of profound bravery that at least matches, if not surpasses, her whistleblowing. She announced her transition, and demanded the dignity and treatment to which she was entitled, while she was imprisoned in the middle of a sprawling U.S. military base, in a brig at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Since her release from prison, she has become a visible and outspoken advocate for the rights of trans people. She has used her position as a Guardian columnist to stake out a wide range of positions, including drafting a proposed law to provide protections for whistleblowers. She certainly has more political experience and activism than many other Senate candidates previously supported by the Democratic establishment (Al Franken comes to mind as one example). If elected, Manning would become the first trans woman ever, and the youngest woman ever, to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Manning’s opponent in the Democratic Party primary is one of the most standard, banal, typical, privileged and mediocre politicians in the U.S. Congress: Benjamin Cardin, a 74-year-old white, straight man who is seeking his third six-year Senate term. Cardin’s decades-long career as a politician from the start has been steeped in unearned privilege: he first won elective office back in 1966, when his uncle, Maurice Cardin, gave up his seat in order to bequeath it to his nephew Benjamin. With this dynastic privilege as his base, he has spent the last 50 years climbing the political ladder in Maryland.
Cardin has remarkably few achievements for being in Congress for so many years. One of his few distinctions is that he has become one of the Senate’s most reliable and loyal supporters of AIPAC’s agenda and the Israeli government, if not the single most loyal.
But Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel – a bill that was such a profound assault on basic First Amendment freedoms that the ACLU instantly denounced it and multiple Senators who had co-sponsored Cardin’s bill (such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand) announced that they were withdrawing their support.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, establishment Democrats wasted no time in mocking and denouncing Manning’s bid to become the first ever trans woman in the Senate, instead quickly lining up in support behind the straight white male who has wielded power for decades. To demean Manning, many of these establishment Democrats invoked the primary tactic they now reflexively use against anyone they view as a political adversary: they depicted her as a tool of the Kremlin, whose candidacy is really just a disguised plot engineered by Moscow.
Manning will have a tough time winning the nomination against a united party establishment.