Democrats First Step Post-Midterms: Elevating the Radical Left

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2022
by AMAC Newsline
pelosi, california population

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

The auguries are not favoring the Democratic Party on Tuesday. With millions of votes already cast and voters lining up at polling places, most polls predict Democrats will lose, at minimum, control of the House of Representatives. Should that happen, Democratic House leadership will likely be forced to confront a harsh reality they can no longer avoid.

The top three Democratic House leaders have a combined age greater than the United States of America. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip James Clyburn are among the oldest members of Congress; 82, 83, and 82, respectively. Alongside the 79-year-old President Joe Biden, Democratic leadership has faced withering criticism from younger progressives who feel they’re too old and out of touch to govern effectively. In September, Ohio Democratic Senate Candidate Rep. Tim Ryan said of his party’s leadership, “I think it’s time for a generational move.”

In 2018, Speaker Pelosi could only win back her position after promising to retire by 2022. Should she do so, her lieutenants, Hoyer and Clyburn, will likely face immense pressure to join her in stepping down. This triumvirate has been able to hold the splintering Democrat coalition of progressives and moderates together through sheer power, an impressive feat. When they retire, this responsibility will fall on a new class of Democrat leaders, one prone to even more radical policies than their predecessors.

The most natural heirs to the Congressional Democratic throne might also be the most controversial. For House Minority Leader, most experts see Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries as the frontrunner. Jeffries has Represented New York’s 8th Congressional district since 2013. While he has attempted to carve out a position as a moderate Democrat, many of his public statements have belied that position and even strained credulity. In July, he claimed that no Democratic legislator had ever supported defunding the police. “The notion that any of our frontline members or members of the House Democratic Caucus support defunding the police is just part of the big lie that extreme MAGA Republicans continue to tell about everything,” he said.

Not only have multiple Democrats spoken in support of the Defund the Police movement, but many of the most outspoken advocates for the movement are sitting members of Congress. During the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Jeffries tweeted, “Lock Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key,” despite Rittenhouse being found innocent. In 2020, he himself called for “Defunding the Prison Industrial Complex.”

During his tenure, he has called for removing a statue of Christopher Columbus and the stripping of Former New York Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the 59th Street Bridge for not doing more to combat AIDS. Most recently, Jeffries claimed that the New York judicial system was “racist” for throwing out the heavily gerrymandered Democratic map of New York, stating the new nonpartisan map “would have made Jim Crow blush.” This is who the Democrat Party is planning to pin their hopes on after a historic rebuke?

Jeffries’s past statements may be concerning, but the likely candidates for the number two slot are even more extreme. The top two contenders for a potential minority whip position are Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. Both have been at the center of multiple controversies. Congresswoman Clark was one of several lawmakers criticized for seemingly pretending to be arrested at a Supreme Court protest. Clark has also supported several groups tied to the Defund the Police movement. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Jayapal is one of the most outspoken, radically progressive leaders on Capitol Hill. Her Progressive Caucus has supported Defunding the Police, the government takeover of all healthcare services, and adopting the Green New Deal. In her statement of remembrance on 9/11, she included the terrorists in the death toll. She has also received criticism for fostering a hostile work environment and abusing her staff—hardly a good portent for a future would-be party leader.

Should Pelosi and her lieutenants step down, it would be a watershed moment in American politics. Pelosi is only the second speaker to hold the gavel twice. Whatever might be said about her leadership, she has been in firm command of her party for nearly two decades. Her relinquishing of the gavel would open the floodgates to a likely indefinite period of infighting and jockeying for power.

Historically, progressives have blamed every Congressional loss on the party’s alleged “moderates” for focusing too much on the “middle.” That if the Democrat Party stakes out an even more radical-left-wing position, like ending all oil drilling, passing a socialist healthcare plan, or imposing their extreme abortion policies nationwide, they will inspire two voters for every one that they alienate.

Especially after most of the party’s few remaining “moderates” lose on Tuesday, most elected Democrats will come from reliably blue districts, and many were elected in 2018, a midterm Democratic victory driven by moderate issues. Without Pelosi’s iron hand on the gavel, the left will almost certainly be thrilled to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine the Democratic Party as the “Democratic-Socialist Party.”

Ironically, this will take them into direct conflict with President Biden, who is more likely than the rest of his party to attempt a “pivot” to save his presidency after the election.  

But the more these fissures boil over into the public, the more likely the Red Wave will continue into 2024.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.