Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
In 2010 or thereabouts, the media was awash in stories about the “battle within the GOP.” This coincided with the rise of the Tea Party and electoral gains where the Republicans took back the House is historic fashion. At that time, there were probably two legislative movements that determined the historic loss of Democratic seats- TARP and Obamacare. Regardless, the Republicans moved on the momentum of the Tea Party, itself a reaction more against TARP and bank bailouts than Obamacare at the time and Obama’s “stimulus” simply added fuel to the fire. The House Freedom Caucus was eventually formed to push the Tea Party agenda legislatively. Unfortunately, many forgot how and why they made it to Washington and abandoned Tea Party ideals using a host of excuses. They found out that rhetoric was much easier than legislative action. Mainstream Republicans swallowed the Tea Party faction into their fold and just as there few, if any, Blue Dog Democrats left, there are few Tea Party Congressmen left.
The Democratic Party today is facing the same situation the GOP faced post-2010. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, finds herself in the same situation John Boehner and Paul Ryan found themselves in when they were Speaker. Unlike the previous two Speakers, however, Pelosi refuses to voluntarily relinquish power. Instead, she believes that she can reign in certain members of her Democratic caucus.
Today, if you listen to the mainstream media (when they talk about rancor within the Democratic caucus at all), Nancy Pelosi is sometimes called a “moderate” Democrat. Given her legislative record and her rhetoric, however, using the term “moderate” in connection with Nancy Pelosi is a huge misnomer. The difference between Pelosi and the new breed of Democrat in the House whose face is that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not one of policy or ideology, but one of method.
There is very little daylight between the policy beliefs of AOC and Pelosi. Pelosi is less incendiary and stutters. AOC is incendiary in her rhetoric and talks like a Valley Girl. One likes standing before the cameras with her Congressional entourage somber faced while the other takes to Twitter and social media. But, at the end of the day, both have the same goal in mind: a radical transformation of America where coastal, elitist socialist policies are forced upon the country. Pelosi talks like she wants to make America Denmark while AOC seriously wants to make America Cuba. Pelosi knows how to weigh her words so as not to scare too many people while AOC suffers from verbal diarrhea.
A perfect example of the different methodologies is evident when it comes to immigration. They both seek immigration reform, for but the Democrats that means legalizing those here illegally and endorsing open borders. AOC and company call for the abolition of ICE, the enforcement agency for our immigration laws. Pelosi calls for reform of ICE which would transform them from being an agency of immigration law enforcement to one of glorified babysitter. Either way, immigration law enforcement is jettisoned.
Another example is the Green New Deal- a radical restructuring of American society where every socialist pipe dream is thrown into one package and disguised as the noble cause of saving the planet from exploding in a fireball. Whereas Pelosi basically backs virtually every proposal in that piece of garbage from retrofitting American homes, providing affordable housing, the elimination of fossil fuels, a living wage proposal, etc., she denigrated the proposal when asked. Why? Because in one fell swoop, an upstart Latina bartender from New York City laid the Democrat’s vision of America all out there for all to see.
Pelosi, on the other hand, would rather legislate that vision slowly, incrementally and in a stealth manner. As Speaker, she controls the agenda and she knows when to strike while the fire is hot. It is why we have to pass legislation first to see what’s in it. Pelosi is the face of socialism by a thousand cuts. She knows that well-meaning and nice-sounding programs that are nothing but new entitlements that will likely never be repealed. They may be temporarily reformed as the political winds change and Democrats lose their grip on power in the House- the inevitable ebb and flow of politics. Even welfare reform under Clinton did not wipe away welfare.
AOC and her kindred spirits are the revolutionary gadflies in the ointment who would look good in a Che beret and T-shirt. These are the blatant socialists who instead of climbing out of the mountains of central Cuba, climbed from under the rocks of liberal enclaves in Boston, New York, Minnesota, Detroit, most of California, and elsewhere. They are opening the can of worms that is socialism that Pelosi would rather open slowly. It’s one turn of the can opener every so often whereas AOC and company are using an electric can opener with no stop button.
Either way, their vision of America almost completely overlaps. There may be some differences here and there mainly of which to what degree they move in the same direction. The biggest difference is the pace at which they move in that common direction.
What the GOP has going for them is the personalities of the leaders of these Democratic factions. And make no mistake, there is a rift between the two. Pelosi has shown her displeasure with AOC in the past by downplaying the Green New Deal. AOC defied Pelosi by bringing up impeachment when the Democratic caucus was asked not to do so. When asked by Leslie Stahl about the influence of AOC on Democratic politics, Pelosi replied, “That’s like only five people,” a not so subtle jab. Then there is AOC’s promise (threat?) to primary incumbent Democrats who do not jump on her socialist train to hell. None of these actions sit well with a power-hungry person like Pelosi. Regardless, since January 2019, 68 Democratic members of the House have voted lockstep with AOC at least 95% of the time according to ProPublica. That has to frighten Pelosi and shows that there are more than “like five people.”
Thus far, while it is true that Pelosi is socialist at heart, a phony, and a hypocrite of the highest order and thus a good representative of the Democratic Party, one has to admit she has shreds of tactical genius. In a way, Pelosi needs AOC because the latter is a blathering idiot that makes Pelosi look almost like a member of Mensa by comparison.
What frightens Pelosi the most is that the bartender from the Bronx is single-handedly ripping the curtain away from the reality that is the Democratic Party today- a quick descent into a socialist hell hole. Meanwhile, many of those Democrats on the presidential campaign trail are increasingly supporting the most radical ideas of AOC like the Green New Deal or Medicare For All. Not too many are extolling the virtues of Obamacare. Not too many are pushing back against the Green New Deal. Not too many are questioning the concept of a “livable wage.” Not too many are supportive of a secure Southern border. And the list goes on.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a huge gift to conservatives and the GOP. She is proving what most of us know about the Democratic Party- that they are a band of graduates of the Frankfurt school of economic and cultural radicalism; in short, socialists. The question now becomes whether the GOP can take advantage of this rift and drive the AOC wing back to mountains of central Cuba. That would be partial victory- a small battle won. Full victory would be cutting off the heads of both factions, but that may be a task too tall for the GOP to undertake.
At the very least, let’s encourage the rift between AOC and Pelosi. Make Pelosi account for every blathering Tweet and statement from AOC and her ilk. Put her on record and hammer the point home. Beyond the liberal enclaves of the coasts, the message of neither resonates with Americans. It is the reason they lost the presidential election in 2016 and, hopefully, their gains in the House in 2018 were a temporary setback, but one with a silver lining- removing the facade of “moderation” in the Democratic Party.