The Democratic Party's Civil War Has Just Begun

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Democratic Civil War has begun in earnest. 

Fox News reported that Democratic members of Congress held a rather contentious caucus call on Thursday in which they discussed their failure to expand their control over the House of Representatives. The call was a microcosm of the battle that is brewing on the left and a preview of what is to come. 

Democratic lawmakers railed about the party’s poor showing in congressional elections and some pointed the finger at the far-left progressive faction of the party, which has been pushing socialist policy proposals like the Green New Deal and the “defund the police” movement. A source familiar with the call told Fox News that “progressive rallying cries” damaged moderates running for re-election. 

“There’s absolutely no accountability from the speaker,” said one participant. “We should have won big but you know the defund the police issue, the Green New Deal — those issues killed our members. Having everybody walk the plank on qualified immunity with the cops. That just hurt a lot of members. No one’s taking responsibility for it.”

Reps Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), and others “complained about calls by colleagues in recent months to defund the police, and about more liberal members embracing socialism,” according to Fox News. 

Spangerger, in particular, was incensed and yelled during the call. “We lost races we shouldn’t have lost. Defund the police almost cost me my race because of an attack ad. Don’t say socialism ever again. We need to get back to basics,” she insisted. 

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) also weighed in.  “We are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win,” he argued.

The lawmaker expanded on his remarks in a statement given to Fox News:

“My comments on today’s private Caucus call are the same sentiments I have expressed for years and publicly reiterated earlier this year. Sloganeering, ‘Burn baby burn,’ highjacked the movement John Lewis and I helped lead in the 1960s, and slogans like ‘Defund the police’ could do the same to today’s efforts, socially and politically.”

The Washington Post reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed with Spanberger and the other moderates. “This has been a life-or-death fight for their very fate of our democracy,” she said. “We did not win every battle but we did win the war. Every one of you knows that incumbent protection is my number one priority.”

The anger that was displayed on the call was in response to the unexpected outcomes of congressional races, which the Democrats believed would expand the party’s control over the House. However, this is not how it played out. 

From Fox News:

“As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, Democrats have won 208 seats compared to Republicans’ 190. Another 37 races have yet to be called. Outstanding races are in New York, California, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. When all those votes are counted, Republicans are optimistic their numbers could swell to 208 and beyond, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). What’s known is that Republicans have flipped at least seven seats from blue to red and an eighth seat in Michigan that was most recently occupied by a Libertarian.”

According to the report, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), was “furious.” 

“Something went wrong here across the entire political world. Our polls, Senate polls, governor polls, presidential polls, Republican polls, public polls, turnout modeling, and prognosticators all pointed to one political environment – that environment never materialized,” Bustos complained. “In fact, the voters who turned out look a lot more like 2016 than to what was projected. I want answers, and my team is already planning how we go and get those answers. I look forward to talking them through with you.”

Members of the far-left faction of the party pushed back against the accusations of their moderate colleagues. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) insisted that they should not single out people and ideas that supposedly energize the base. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who identifies as a democratic socialist, did the usual race-baiting routine, accusing the moderates of only wishing to appeal to suburban whites. “To be real, it sounds like you are saying stop pushing for what Black folks want,” she said.

Of course, the argument didn’t stop after the call was concluded, as it spilled on to social media. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to excoriate former Sen. Claire McCaskill for calling on the Democratic Party to move further to the middle. “Whether you are talking guns or issues surrounding the right to abortion in this country, or things like gay marriage and rights for transexuals and other people, who we as a party ‘look after’ and make sure they are treated fairly,” McCaskill said in an appearance on MSNBC.

“Why do we listen to people who lost elections as if they are experts in winning elections?” she asked on Twitter, noting the former senator’s loss to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). “McCaskill tried her approach. She ran as a caravan-hysteria Dem & lost while grassroots organizers won progressive measures in MO. Her language here shows how she took her base for granted.”

She posted another tweet blasting those claiming that progressivism is harming the Democratic Party. “There are folks running around on TV blaming progressivism for Dem underperformance. I was curious, so I decided to open the hood on struggling campaigns of candidates who are blaming progressives for their problems. Almost all had awful execution on digital. DURING A PANDEMIC,” she wrote.

Of course, the evidence seems to show that the moderate faction of the party is correct in their assessment of their performance this election season. The Washington Post noted that “Democrats are poised to hold the smallest majority in 18 years, undercutting the leverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).”

The bottom line is that Americans do not favor the ultra left-wing policies espoused by the socialist faction of the Democratic Party. It’s why left-leaning voters chose former Vice President Joe Biden over socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). However, none of this means that the progressive faction doesn’t still have a fighting chance to take over the party. 

This year, the far-left had some victories, but even more losses. But this does not mean that they are down for the count — they are already mounting an offensive against the establishment, and this battle will continue at least until the 2022 midterm elections. The question is: Who will win? 

 

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