If it was boxing, we would call it a split decision for progressives in Congress.
Democratic House candidate and former Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Presidential campaign co-chair Nina Turner lost the primary to succeed Housing Secretary and former Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. Progressives and members of the “squad” had gathered around Turner. But many found it too extreme. And veteran members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have lent their support to the ultimate winner of the primary: Shontel Brown.
Brown will likely win a special election to complete the remainder of Fudge’s term later this fall.
But the progressives scored a great victory.
Representatives Cori Bush, D-Mo., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., And Mondaire Jones, DN.Y., launched a multi-night sleep-in on the steps of the house after the pandemic-related eviction moratorium that expired on July 31 . After days of incitement, the Progressives urged the Biden administration to act. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has extended the freeze on evictions by two months – although there are questions about the constitutionality of the ruling.
Yet progressives have embraced the effort. And, they took credit for pushing the administration to act – precisely a day after the White House said it couldn’t. White House officials had released a long list of bromides saying it was encouraging / persuading / calling on state and local officials and homeowners to handle the extended moratorium on evictions for them – then turned around.
“It’s a huge win for the power of direct action and not taking no for an answer,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
But the progressives’ political success on the deportation moratorium is emblematic of something else.
“This, I hope, marks a turning point in how this White House views progressives,” Jones said after pushing the White House Biden to move.
The left stimulated action by revolutionary means. Of course, there were typical phone calls, meetings, and strategic meetings. But they got results thanks to a tactic they know well: protest.
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This is why the members settled down, camping on the steps of the House for four consecutive nights.
“The activists are in Congress,” said Bush. “So expect things to be different than what people maybe are used to.”
President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have taken note. But the Republicans too.
“They may be activists. But they are not informed. They are not policy makers,” said Representative Patrick McHenry, RN.C., the House Financial Services Committee’s top GOP. “Airtime and activism are not part of policy making.”
Where is it?
A new “policy”, although constitutionally questionable, is now in place.
Progressives have taken to social media with their protest. It has gone viral. TV news cameras also parked near the steps.
“The Bernie Sanders wing of the party is the tail that wags the dog,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D., “When [progressives] play music, the Democrats here are dancing. “
But so far, the progressive achievements are relatively meager despite a lot of noise.
No adoption by the Senate of a bill on the right to vote. The filibuster stays in place. The District of Columbia is still the District of Columbia, not a state. The same with Puerto Rico. Police reform has stalled. Efforts to raise the minimum wage are stalling. No action on gun control. And while the left got a few wins in the big COVID relief bills, it was often not enough for them. In fact, Progressive Caucus representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Described the pending $ 3.5 trillion infrastructure bill as a “down payment.”
“Don’t assume that the Democratic Party is controlled by this progressive wing or that this progressive wing is so powerful,” observed Herb Asher, professor of political science at Ohio State University.
After all, the most influential senators are now the Moderate Democrats: Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Joe Manchin, DW.V.
But fighting between opposing wings of the Democratic Party could doom President Biden’s agenda. This problem is particularly acute as moderates in the House try to suppress the size of the big infrastructure bill and try to steer clear of controversial political endorsements. A fight is looming to include immigration reform or a permanent DACA fix in the infrastructure bill.
“As a Republican, I would love to sit on the sidelines, eat popcorn and watch,” McHenry said. “Watch as they go after each other.”
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Democrats face a challenge as to who controls the party’s message. Is this Joe Manchin? Or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
Some Democrats fear the “squad” could scare voters in the middle. That’s why they hope to restart messaging before the midterm elections. But it might not be Ocasio-Cortez that presents the most radical message. Republicans hope voters will focus on Cori Bush.
“So suck it up. Police funding has to happen,” Bush said on CBS.
Bush’s comments forced the White House to reiterate President Biden’s opposition to police funding.
“There may be some members of the Democratic Party, including Congresswoman Bush, who disagree with him,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “But I would say the majority of Democrats we’ve seen in the polls and the majority of members also agree that we shouldn’t fund the police.”
Democrats nearly lost control of the House in 2020 over funding for the police narrative. Republicans hope to organize this post again for 2022.
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“We have seen Jen Psaki and Joe Biden say that they are not the party that funds the police, and we want to make sure voters understand that is absolutely not true,” said Michael McAdams, spokesperson. of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). “They have prominent members of their caucus that come out every week and say, ‘No, no, I want to fund the police. We have to fund the police. “”
Democrats are now worried about the findings of an internal Democratic poll. The study found that the Democrats lost six points in generic House races next year. The news could even be worse than that. The generic ballot often tilts in favor of Democrats by several points. So if you lose six points, you actually risk losing ten points.
Democrats have asked their party to recalibrate their message.
“Extreme voices will define the party,” said American University history professor Allan Lichtman. “Democrats have had messaging problems for a very long time.”
But the message voters are hearing is coming from the team. It’s good for the base. But not for the swing voters the party hopes to woo.
However, there are sometimes false heads in politics. Fox is told that leaking the bad Democratic poll to the press could be a Democratic tactic to lull Republicans into a false sense of security.
“If this was really something they were worried about, it wouldn’t have been released to the press,” former Democratic House leadership assistant Michael Hardaway said. “The fact that he did that tells you everything you need to know about the Democrats’ strategy in terms of wanting people to think they are worried about it.”
Some Democrats believe Republicans are getting arrogant about their chances.
“I think Republicans are already measuring the curtains,” said Representative Ami Bera, D-Calif., Who is responsible for helping Democrats re-elect their most vulnerable members.
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“I think they would like to believe it,” retorted Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Head of the NRCC. “No one is resting on their laurels. No one will be overconfident.”
But one thing is certain: Democrats will face a tougher road in 2022.
Team activism can trigger the party base. But this approach could alienate the voters they need.
And it’s a shared decision for Democrats at all levels.
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