On the night of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address, in which the president called for unity against foreign and domestic threats, why would a fellow Democrat feel compelled to deliver a progressive response?
Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke on behalf of not the Democratic Party but the Working Families Party, in her post-SOTU comments. She was careful not to call it a rebuttal, but whatever you call it, it’s a slap in the face to the leader of her party at a time when he’s facing multiple crises, and Democrats have the narrowest margins. thinner in the House and the Senate.
His remarks echoed year-long arguments within the Democratic Party about the aspirations of the progressive agenda versus the inability to muster votes in the Senate. The MP, a member of the left-wing activist group in the House dubbed “The Squad”, did not name names, but she was under no obligation to. Everyone knows who she’s talking about when she talks about “filibuster Democrats” and “corporate-backed Democrats.”
Rep. Tlaib called on Biden to use his executive powers “now” to write off student loan debt, regulate carbon emissions and set labor rules. She rattled off a wish list that echoed much of what Biden had just called for in a Congress where the chance of passage is nil, but hope must be kept alive.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat and also part of the Working Families Party,” the MP said. “In the richest country in the world, it shouldn’t be so hard for so many people to have a good life.” The Working Families Party is a voice for the multiracial working class, and if they were in power, “we would fight for a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour,” Tlaib added.
At a time when polls show voters think Biden is already too left-leaning, Tlaib’s seizure of a State of the Union platform has struck other party members as self-defeating at the moment. extreme. “Why does a Democrat right now think it’s a good idea to attack other Democrats on the President’s State of the Union night, that’s nonsense,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic group.
After Tlaib steps forward to claim time, Texas Rep. Colin Allred said he would provide a response to the Black Caucus, and the co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus also put in their offer to evaluate the eveningbut it was Tlaib’s response that exposed old wounds and angered Democrats.
She spoke at the invitation of the Working Families Party, which promotes progressives and has become a player in New York state politics. He recently saw a silver lining in potential Democratic losses in the upcoming midterms, touting the merits of the “smaller but more progressive Democratic caucus.”
“No Democrat should be allowed to actively encourage Republican majorities and not be asked to do so,” Bennett said. With a three-vote margin in the House, caucus purity means empowering a Republican party fascinated by the cult of Trump.
Democrats are eyeing a potential blowout in November if they can’t reverse voters’ negative impressions of what they’ve accomplished since taking control of the White House and both houses of Congress. Progressives harbor a grudge against the Build Back Better Bill. They backed a bipartisan infrastructure bill, ensuring legislation would follow to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen the social safety net.
That didn’t happen, and they blame moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and other centrists they call “corporate Democrats,” for allegedly misleading them. .
“They have the mistaken theory that standing up to Joe Biden is going to help them get what they want,” says Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution. “All it does is alienate all the Democrats they need to make friends with. It is a wing of the party which wants to realize its fantasy.
For Kamarck and his long-time colleague, William Galston, it’s Back to the future. Thirty-three years ago, the duo published an unpublished study on “The politics of escapethat forced the Democrats through a 30-year losing streak interrupted only by Jimmy Carter’s one-term victory in 1976. Their analysis helped set the stage for Bill Clinton to find an agenda for government that would could win nationally.
Their new study, published last month, is titled “The New Politics of Escapism: How Ignoring Swing Voters Could Reopen the Door to Donald Trump and Threaten American Democracy.” In it, they present compelling data that demographic changes pointing to an increase in progressive voters “ignore the sheer number of non-college white voters in key states.” Further, they point out that Hispanics vote more like non-college white voters than a minority group, which is why Democrats are losing ground with this rapidly growing portion of the electorate.
In Wisconsin, one of nine swing states they looked at, 56% of the electorate is white and non-collegiate, 30% is white and college-educated, 6% is black, and 4% Hispanic. In 2020, the economic and social crisis created by COVID-19 has brought enough non-college white voters back into the Democratic fold in key swing states. “But these successes should not blind Democrats to the fact that these voters have often found Republican cultural claims more compelling than Democratic economic arguments,” they write.
They cite polls that show only 7% of the electorate consider themselves “very liberal” and only 9% identify with policies associated with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“How on earth can they accomplish anything for the people they serve with 9%? They live in a deep, deep blue bubble, and that causes them to do things that get the opposite outcome of what they want,” Kamarck said. The daily beast. (For example, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said the Democrats lost a dozen seats because of “Defund the Police.”)
“It drives me crazy, as you can see,” Kamarck continued. “The problem is that we are known by our extremes. Yes [Tlaib] wants to run on the Working Families ticket, fine, but she ran as a Democrat.
In the article they wrote 33 years ago, the cost of dodging hard truths was getting a George HW Bush or a Bob Dole, Kamarck says. “Now the threat becomes a Donald Trump and the end of democracy.”
For her part, Tlaib didn’t come to Congress to be a team player. She was one of six Democrats – all members of “The Squad” – who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill last year. The only Palestinian-American in Congress, she made comments about Israel that did not land well with his colleagues.
Tlaib’s words Tuesday night weren’t nearly as inflammatory as her show of disunity toward an embattled president in part because he championed progressive legislation that she argued he couldn’t deliver, at least not yet.