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Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman has seen the light, or at least a little bit of it.
The sweatpants-wearing icon of Bernie Sanders supporters came out swinging as if awakening from a coma: “Progressivism left me,” he announced. “Increasingly, progressivism moved and migrated into some positions that I don’t agree with and I really just feel much more comfortable in being just a Democrat. We have a crisis at our border and it can’t be controversial that we should have a secure border.”
This admission caused Fetterman’s supporters to push every alarm bell in sight.
Salon.com bellowed, “John Fetterman’s Shameful Betrayal of the Left.”
Other leftists began calling him Genocide John for his unequivocal support of Israel.
Newsweek stated: “John Fetterman Accused of Throwing Wife Under the Bus with Border Remarks.”
The magazine referenced Muslim journalist Mehdi Hasan, who in December 2023 reposted a June 2021 screenshot of a Fetterman post on what was then Twitter showing his wife, Gisele Barreto, holding her citizenship papers and an American flag along with Fetterman’s words, “Immigration makes America, America.”
Hasan headlined the X reposting: “Senator Fetterman throws his wife under the bus.” (Gisele was a child of 7 when her family brought her to the U.S. illegally, meaning that she had no choice in that decision.)
Hasan, it should be noted, quit MSNBC earlier this month when the network demoted him from anchor to contributor. The journalist’s final show featured a Palestinian photographer who talked about the dangers of working in Gaza during Israeli military operations.
His demotion caused Muslim Rep. lhan Omar to declare, “It is deeply troubling that MSNBC is canceling his show amid the rise of anti-Muslim bigotry and suppression of Muslim voices.”
But Hasan’s criticism of Fetterman on X seemed driven by deeper issues, such as the senator’s support for Israel. Hasan knows Fetterman would not go public with criticism of leftist immigration policies without the support of his wife.
Another attack on Fetterman came from a Philadelphia-based Social Justice Warrior, Alexandra Hunt, who ran unsuccessfully for Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District in 2022 and then failed to capture the office of city controller in May 2023.
The long-haired, two-time loser glam-feminist wrote on X: “Fetterman has never been progressive but endorsing talks for tougher immigration laws when he’s married to an incredible woman who was once an illegal immigrant and who kept his campaign alive while he was recovering from a stroke is actually sickening.”
But Fetterman, throwing his 6’8” frame into the action, is not backing down.
He asked how anybody could justify 270,000 people entering the US illegally, a number matching the population of Pittsburgh, “the second largest city in Pennsylvania.”
Reasonable souls would agree that allowing that many migrants into the country is the ultimate definition of a national suicide pill.
It also qualifies as a more accurate definition of the word “sickening.”
Progressives, of course, don’t want to have a conversation about illegal immigration. Conversations raise questions, and questions challenge progressive orthodox canons.
Fetterman’s dissociation from the left on the issues of immigration and Israel, while still claiming to be a Democrat, is a reflection of what’s happening to many Democrats in Philadelphia, a city with over 200,000 Jewish households, making it the third largest Jewish population center in America.
Yet many of the city’s traditionally progressive Jews and others seemed to have hit the “pause” button when it comes to celebrating leftist causes.
You might call this the Fetterman Effect: people who heretofore automatically ‘checked off’ everything the left advocates but who are now taking a second look at the fissures and cracks appearing in progressivism.
Whether this “pause” will evolve into the acceptance of more enlightened conservative views is unknown.
A similar thing can be said for Fetterman himself: will the senator go on to experience a kind of incremental conversion —via baby steps—and leave the Democrat Party down the line?
What is certain is that the progressive base is targeting Fetterman because of his views on Israel, even though his views on that topic have never changed.
During the 2022 Senate Primary Campaign in Pennsylvania, Fetterman laid out that support in very strong language, although this was well before the October 7, 2023 massacre of Israelis by Hamas, and well before major cracks began to appear in the Democrat Party itself over Israel’s right to defend itself.
“Whenever I’m in a situation to be called on to take up the cause of strengthening and enhancing the security of Israel or deepening our relationship between the United States and Israel, I’m going to lean in,” Fetterman told Jewish Insider in 2022.
As for progressives who loathe or criticize Israel, Fetterman said, “I would also respectfully say that I’m not really a progressive in that sense.”
Prior to October 7, Democrats found it a little easier to turn their backs on the rhetoric coming from the left regarding the Israel-Palestine issue. But October 7 was a game-changer.
Reporting on Fetterman’s U-turn on “immigration” and support for Israel, The Nation magazine focused on Philadelphia: “Protesters from IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, two progressive Jewish organizations critical of the Israeli government, have already confronted Fetterman, shutting down the street in front of his Philadelphia office. Protesters interrupted a recent campaign event and former campaign staffers penned a letter to his office urging him to support a cease-fire.”
“I was very appalled and shocked by the language he used,” said Jules Berkman-Hill, a former Fetterman campaign volunteer. “As a Pennsylvania Jew who devoted significant time to getting him elected—and knowing he was the best choice to be our senator—I believe he is really letting us down.”
But as the Democrat Party increasingly becomes less centrist and more leftist, Fetterman may find himself increasingly on the outs despite his contention that he wants to be known, simply, as “just a Democrat.”
What does “just a Democrat” mean, anyway, when for so many it means a complete capitulation to leftist causes.
Metamorphosis, or that long or short journey to another way of thinking, can be a traumatic experience.
Men and women of goodwill can only hope that the senator makes it to the other side of the hill.
“What I have found out over the last couple years is that the right,and now the left, are hoping that I die,” Fetterman recently stated, referring to the near-fatal stroke he experienced during his campaign. “There are ones that are rooting for another blood clot. They have both now been wishing that I die.”
The “right” away to go about this, Mr. Fetterman, is not to die but to continue changing—and by doing that you will choose life.