are in a heap of trouble and unable to get out of their own way.
Repeatedly warned about their lack of an appealing political message,
they have elected to stand steadfast in their belief that they know
what their voters want and need. Democrats have apparently refused to
engage their base in formulating their legislative agenda as they
move forward with a progressive, socialist, and/or centrist program.
rapidly metastasizing political cancer is eating away at Democratic
majorities in the House and Senate and undermining the effectiveness
of Joe Biden, who is on a trajectory to become a one-term President
regardless of whether he decides to run again. This electoral
scenario has emerged since the 2018 and 2020 Congressional races.
2018, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Queens, New York Democratic
Socialist, who worked on the 2016 Bernie Sanders’ presidential
campaign, came out of nowhere to defeat ten-term Rep. Joe Crowley
(D-NY), the fourth ranking member of the House Democratic Caucus, and
in line to succeed Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker. Ocasio-Cortez was
one of several Progressives who won primaries against and/or defeated
their Democratic predecessors: Ilhan Omar, who won a six candidate
primary to replace Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) who resigned to run for
Attorney General of Minnesota in 2018; Rashida Tlaib, who won the
seat of the 26-term legendary Detroit Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in
2018 who was forced to resign amid a sex scandal; Ayanna Pressley who
prevailed over ten-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) in 2018; Cori Bush
who beat Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) in 2020; and Jamaal Bowman who crushed
sixteen-term Rep Eliot Engel (D-NY).
new House members ushered in increased diversity and unbridled hubris
as they attributed their victories to their unique personas rather
than to the political failures of their opponents.
sources of these challengers’ electoral success were the
fluctuating racial demographics of the aforementioned districts and
the incumbents’ arrogance in not regularly returning to their
legislative districts and engaging with their constituents.
decided to speak for them rather than to them. This approach reached
a crescendo during the recent Democratic intra-party fight over the
physical and social infrastructure bills and has weakened the Party.
of this Democratic dysfunction are well-intentioned
progressive/socialists: Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and
Pressley, also known as “the Squad;” Bowman, Bush, and
other House Democrats elected since 2018 in response to the political
excesses of the Trump administration, who are furiously fighting for
their political agendas which sometimes run counter to the interest
of the people they represent.
shining example is Ocasio-Cortez’s blocking the building of an
Amazon plant which would have brought thousands of jobs to her
district because Jeff Bezos would not agree to everything she wanted
and her recent vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill whose
benefits are sorely needed in her district and that will also bring
good-paying jobs to her residents.
Democratic leaders, Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional
Progressive Caucus, and Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) both subscribe to
leftist-oriented political ideologies and have personal identities
that define their approach to their leadership roles. And both are
showing an inability to grasp the fractious political landscape and
to develop an effective response to the looming Republican takeover
of Congress in 2022.
two individuals have insulated themselves with like-minded minions
which inhibits their efforts to counter the Republican seizure of
Democratic issues. For instance, since 1989 and until November 2021,
the Democrats led Republicans by 20 or more points on education. But
in a poll last week, Republicans had crept within three points of
Democrats on this issue - 41 percent to 44 percent.
have essentially neutralized education as a Democratic organizing
tool, and their previous supporters are abandoning them in droves.
This reality was revealed in the 2021 election of Republican
gubernatorial candidate, Glen Youngkin, in Virginia and the narrow
2021 reelection of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey.
Democrats are losing on a key issue for the 2022 midterms.
noted earlier, Republicans are also recasting their school choice
initiatives to appeal to a larger segment of Black, Indigenous, and
Latinx voters, along with their White base, to serve as another wedge
as they continue their incursions into the Democratic base. They are
recruiting new benefactors and re-energizing old ones as they infuse
low-income urban communities with billions of private-sector dollars
to win friends and influence people.
contributions to religious organizations and schools, charter
schools, grassroots organizations and leaders, and the funders of
local powerbrokers of color are winning friends and adherents. The
Bradley, Walton, Broad, Gates, and other foundations are spearheading
these efforts and are being supplemented by individual corporate
the meantime, Democrats have not meaningfully engaged the Presidents
of the nation’s largest teacher unions, the National Education
Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in
political strategizing for the 2022 midterms. Teachers and their
voting family members and supporters were critical to 2020 Democratic
taking control of Congress. Now they are squandering this triumph,
refusing to accept what is achievable in search of the perfect.
chair of the CPC, is delaying Democratic legislative success, and
Maloney, chair of the DCCC, is imperiling the likelihood of Democrats
maintaining their majority in the House. Collectively and perhaps
involuntarily, both are sabotaging Democrats as they head toward the
it is not too late! They still have a year to regroup: they could
scrub the bipartisan infrastructure bill and highlight the importance
of key components to members of their base. This must be done in
bite-sized, easily grasped chunks that are informed by
representatives of their constituent groups.
name a few, these components include the removal of lead laterals in
ethnic minority communities that are being saturated by lead
poisoning; the extension and upgrade of broadband in rural
communities; the repair of bridges and roads; the connection of
communities to affordable transportation; the refurbishing of
airports, roads and waterways; and environmental remediation.
messages that excite Democratic voters and their Republican
counterparts is the key. But we are not hopeful that this will occur
because so far, Democrats have failed in effective communications
while the Republicans have been on point!