Division in the Democratic Party

On November 3rd, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, ⅓ of seats in the Senate, and the presidency went up for re-election. This past year has been a tumultuous one, and the country appears to be casting the majority of the blame on the GOP, specifically Donald Trump.

This is not without good reason, President Trump made repeated claims about the COVID-19 virus affecting “virtually nobody”. With the worst economy since the Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, and millions out of work, this election looked to be a longshot for Trump’s re-election, by extension, it also looked to be a longshot for many Republicans in Congress who have aligned themselves with Trump over the past four years.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidency, the Democrats kept control of the House, and the Republicans kept control of the Senate. This election, while a technical victory for Democrats, was not the blowout that many hoped for. After a year of economic disaster, pandemic politics, and civil unrest, many believed that a blue wave would be unseating dozens of Republicans come November 3rd. Unfortunately for Democrats, their grip on the House was weakened by a wave of newly elected Republicans, they only made a net gain of two in the Senate, and the presidential was not the historic landslide that many predicted it to be. The reason for this anticlimactic victory? Radicalism.

A statement was made by Congresswoman Spanberger shortly after the election regarding the Democrats’ loss of house seats, “We need not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. Because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter, and we lost good members because of it.” To paraphrase, she attacked those in Congress who would publicly label themselves as Democratic Socialists, believing that their agenda turns people away from the party, and if the rhetoric doesn’t change that the House will flip in 2022.

Frankly, I agree with the Congresswoman’s statement. The Democrats are infighting with the more progressive members of Congress, who are prone to voting against bills put forth by career Democrats. One such member is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC), a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist. To the chagrin of traditional Democrats, AOC has spent her first term in the House undermining the authority of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who is a universally respected leader in the Democratic Party), as a result of this, polling data suggests that many Democrats voted for Republicans in this election in order to prevent more AOC types from entering Congress. If we, as Democrats, don’t pull ourselves together and stop nominating divisive figures such as AOC, we won’t end the gridlock, there will be no unified government during Joe Biden’s presidency, and there will be no mandate for President-Elect Biden to lead.

Critics of the Congresswoman’s statement state that the progressive wing of Congress, also known as, “The Squad”, has only expanded as a result of this election. However, one must note that members of the Squad are not being elected from swing districts, their presence in Congress is expanding due to career Democrats losing primary elections in predominantly blue districts. Take NY-16, for example. Rep. Eliot Engel has been a solid blue district for several decades, and lost his primary election to Jamaal Bowman, a self-proclaimed member of the Squad, on June 23rd. There was no net gain in this case, The Democrats only flipped their own seat; This Congressional election was not a win for Democrats, nor should it be considered one.

The divide in the Democratic Party is only expected to worsen now. Speaker Pelosi’s authority as Speaker of the House has been relentlessly attacked for the past two years and frankly, a lot of Democrats on her side of the aisle have become contrived by it, and we can only expect the problem to become worse with the rapidly expanding progressive wing of the party. Several months ago, The Declaration endorsed Joe Biden’s nomination, citing the lack of unity promoted by the main contender, Senator Bernie Sanders. We firmly believe that had Sanders received the nomination, we would have another four years of President Trump, we encouraged Democrats to nominate a non-polarizing figure who could unite moderate Democrats and Republicans alike. If the Democrats want to have a unified government during the next four years, the party must unite against the division put forth by the Squad.