Much has been said and will be said over the current state of the Republican Party in a post-Trump political era. What direction the party goes in will be debated over (but I think the leader of the party right now is Mitch McConnell, a subject I’ll have to write more about later), but the bigger and more pressing issue right now is the direction of the Democratic Party.
Two things are true about the 2020 election: Joe Biden won and the Democrats lost. Biden’s victory, while still contested by many conservatives, is largely due to the fact that he is not Donald Trump rather than America shifting in any meaningful way toward the Left. Biden’s administration, as of now, appears to be aware of this, as many of the cabinet choices are seen as more palatable (though still easy to reject) by Republicans.
The Democrats overall, however, are now looking at a smaller than ever majority in the House (even further complicated by Joe Biden’s plan to pull so many Representatives into his administration), and are still very likely to fall short of a majority in the Senate. They will have very little in the way of bargaining power over Republicans when it comes to key Biden (and party) legislative efforts.
This is irritating to the far-left progressives, who see “centrist” leadership from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as the problem.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is more or less the modern far-left distilled into human form, is essentially calling for both to be removed from leadership and a younger generation of progressive take over the party.
In an interview with The Intercept, AOC made the case, arguing that the two have not only failed to lead the party, but they have also failed to train the next generation of leaders, as well.
Ocasio-Cortez argued that there are no viable alternatives for House or Senate leadership at the moment because the caucus’s current leaders spent a number of years concentrating power without any “real grooming of a next generation of leadership.”
“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities, but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.”
When you look at the electoral outcomes of a Democratic Party under their leadership, you’ll see that while Nancy Pelosi is portrayed as a political genius and savvy leader, the House’s Democratic once-proud majority has dwindled over the years, and despite a brief, anti-Trump bump in 2018, the party continues its decline as Republican gains at the state and federal level far-outpace the Democratic ones.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats under Schumer have been a joke – a disorganized, trainwreck of a joke, but a joke nonetheless – and while older, more moderate Democrats are sticking with him, it’s not hard to imagine progressives looking to knock him out.
This scenario should seem very familiar to Republicans, considering this was all Obama-era in-fighting for their party with one major difference: The Democrats are doing this despite winning. Their victories have been on anti-Republican waves, and Pelosi and Schumer are failing not because they aren’t progressive enough but because they are unable to keep their ultra-progressive members’ impulses in line.
The problem for the ultra-progressives is that, as AOC explained, there has been no training of the younger generation to take over as leaders. So, when Pelosi and Schumer inevitably step down, they will have older, hand-picked successors who will still be keeping power away from AOC and her followers.
But that will just make the ultra-progressives louder and more hostile to their leadership, and it will end up driving voters further toward the Republican Party. If AOC, the Gang, and the rest of the progressives are openly attacking any and all moderate positions and politicians, voters will feel attacked and feel that those politicians are too extreme. Where Pelosi has succeeded in the past has been in portraying Republicans as too extreme. The problem is she turns around and does nothing when her own party can’t help but be more extreme.
Voters are inherently afraid of change. They don’t want too much at once. The ultra-progressives continue to push for more and more change all at once, they will chase off more and more voters. But if Pelosi and Schumer don’t start bringing more of them into the fold and give them actual leadership opportunities, then they’ll never be able to keep them in line and get them to understand how to move the ball down the field.
To their credit, Republicans have learned this lesson (for the moment) while also having operated under the handicap of competing not only against the other party but the media and social media as well. The Democrats have tons of advantages but lose despite them. That is something AOC likely can’t or won’t understand for the foreseeable future.