The 2018 midterms were a disaster for House Republicans. Democrats gained 40 seats, retook the majority, and, to our horror, Nancy Pelosi is speaker again. They were elected to stop Trump, to block him at every turn, and lead the effort for his impeachment and removal from office. Any Democrat who says otherwise is lying. The base demands Trump go at all costs. The younger, feistier Democrats say that openly. The older crew tries to downplay it, but ultimately that’s their goal. They’re banking heavily that the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the DOJ’s Russia probe, finds something impeachable. Don’t hold your breath on that; the Russia collusion allegation has been what’s kept Democrats hopeful since 2016. Yet, while doing battle with the Trump White House is a top priority, the progressive Left also wants to clean house in the Democratic Party as well. The party elite is reportedly trying to rein in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), as they view her antics to be distracting, but they’re also not pleased that she’s willing to help boot fellow Democrats who are viewed as too moderate. Shots have been fired inside the ship (via Politico):
I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.”
Incumbent Democrats are most annoyed by Ocasio-Cortez’s threat to back primary opponents against members of their ranks she deems too moderate. But their frustration goes beyond that: Democratic leaders are upset that she railed against their new set of House rules on Twitter the first week of the new Congress. Rank and file are peeved that there’s a grassroots movement to try to win her a top committee post they feel she doesn’t deserve.
GQ added that the reason why the Democrats were so successful in House races in 2018 was due to candidates like Ocasio-Cortez:
What Democrats like those quoted here still do not understand, apparently, is that Ocasio-Cortez's failure to morph into a country club politician is the whole point: It is the reason people like her, and see her as perhaps capable of advancing policy proposals on which Democrats, despite their alleged best efforts, have not yet been willing or able to deliver. If she were another backslap-happy centrist who prioritized the accumulation of seniority above the promotion of an ambitious progressive agenda, she'd be Joe Crowley. Voters in her district were tired of Joe Crowley, whose each term was the same as the last, which is why they didn't elect him again.
Speaking of which: Sniping at Ocasio-Cortez like this is a habit that Democrats develop at their own peril. The party is two months removed from winning the House in a landslide thanks to the energy generated by young, envelope-pushing candidates like her, and already, some members are so nervous about what it might mean for their livelihoods that they'd rather squash that energy than see where it can take the country.
And now, it seems progressive groups are already taking aim at those moderate Democrats. These are the same people that helped Ocasio-Cortez get elected (via The Hill):
Progressive groups are set to back primary challenges against conservative Democrats in 2020, as they look to expand their wing’s footprint in Congress by taking out incumbents they see as out of tune with the current state of the party.
Justice Democrats, a progressive group that helped propel Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in her primary upset last year, has its eyes set on a number of more moderate House lawmakers in safe blue districts, with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) as the first target.
Plus, some national groups appear to be gearing up again to take on Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), who narrowly won a competitive primary in 2018 against a candidate backed by progressive and abortion rights groups.
The primary challenges come as progressive Democrats push for more influence in the new House majority and as they look to shape the party’s politics in 2020, having been emboldened after Democratic voters rejected a few entrenched incumbents last year.
And on the Hill, these feisty progressives could cause trouble for Democratic Party elders on the various committees as well:
A group of fiery progressives led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is poised to take seats on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, posing a big challenge for new Chairwoman Maxine Waters.
Waters, a Los Angeles Democrat, is a liberal icon in her own right. But as head of the committee, she will have to play the role of peacemaker to bring together the new members with moderates on the panel — some of whom are wary of primary threats stoked by their colleagues on the left.
A party steering committee on Tuesday night recommended the assignments, which will next be approved by the Democratic caucus.
If things get personal on the panel, as some Democrats fear, it could make it more difficult for Waters to keep party lawmakers together, even if the new members may be more in sync with her views on how to rein in corporate America and the Trump administration.
The liberal group Justice Democrats publicly pressured Democratic leaders to put Ocasio-Cortez on the tax-writing Ways and Means panel, Tlaib on the Appropriations Committee and Porter on Financial Services. But more senior lawmakers pushed back behind the scenes, arguing that freshmen should not be given spots on the most exclusive committees when other members who have been in Congress for years have been waiting their turn.
In the end, Financial Services, which was struggling to fill its roster, seemed like the right landing spot for the freshmen. And Waters, who is affectionately referred to as “Auntie Maxine” by many on the left, is just the chairwoman to oversee such an eclectic mix of members, other lawmakers said.
So, in all, progressive groups already reloading to take out their own within the party, far left loons that could cause heartburns on the various committees in the House, and reports of rank-and-file Democrats already queasy with how this far left faction operates. This sounds like a toxic cocktail that could implode the House Democratic caucus—and I hope it does. The next two years could be dotted with the far left putting forth insane proposals, whilst the more experienced members are left to do damage control. It wastes time—the most precious resource in politics. And while a do-nothing House could work to Trump’s benefit in 2020, especially if he proposes initiatives that promote jobs and grow the economy that in turn get blocked, the president can capitalize on the internal drama. If things turn out poorly between the far left and more establishment wings, the president has plenty of fodder for the stump. Trump can go out there, saying he wanted to create jobs, but the House Democrats’ constant fighting, like something out of a bad daytime soap opera, prevented people from getting bigger paychecks and future employment. On top of that, they’re more about impeaching me than helping all of you. Sad!
Is it a period of civil war among the Democrats? The elements for one are right there.