Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the presumptive new Speaker of the House, has already hinted at a timid approach to Trumpism. That’s a recipe for certain defeat.
During her victory speech Tuesday night — a midterm election in which Republicans campaigned on racist fearmongering and pulled out all the stops to suppress Democratic votes — Pelosi hinted that her speakership, should she win, would be about compromise with Donald Trump’s lemmings in Congress.
“We will strive for bipartisanship, with fairness on all sides,” Pelosi said. “We’ll have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong. A Democratic congress will work for solutions that bring us together, because we have all had enough of division. The American people want peace. They want results. They want us to work for positive results for their lives.”
Of course Pelosi is right in saying that Americans want results, and a Congress that will pass legislation to make their lives better. But as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said recently in an interview with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, Democrats must be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time,” meaning they need to be able to simultaneously fight for legislation that will help constituents suffering from low wages, unaffordable healthcare, and crushing student debt, while also investigating President Trump’s conflicts of interest and corruption — all while battling future Republican attempts to cut taxes for the wealthy and dismantle the social safety net.
Republicans demonstrated during the eight years Barack Obama was in the White House that they aren’t interested in compromising with Democrats to enact legislation to improve the lives of working-class Americans. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) successfully obstructed bills that would have provided jobs to teachers and first responders, provided healthcare to 9/11 first responders, and provided education and health benefits to veterans. House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times. Pelosi’s attempts to meet Trumpism halfway will likely prove futile.
Indeed, Republicans have already said that their plan for paying for the deeply unpopular tax cuts for the wealthy that has already created a trillion-dollar hole in the budget is to cut Social Security and Medicare. Sen. McConnell admitted this in October. Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said this has been the GOP’s strategy all along.
The same party Nancy Pelosi wants “bipartisan” compromise with had neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and Confederate apologists running on its ticket at the local, state, and federal level. It’s the same party that defended the separation of undocumented children as young as 18 months old from their parents. And it’s the same party that does nothing about its president’s unprecedented attacks on the free press. Compromise is necessary for effective governing, but a line has to be drawn at evil.
But the problem with Democrats’ timidity in the face of Trumpism isn’t limited to Nancy Pelosi. As Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer has not only allowed Republicans to run roughshod over him, but has failed to unite Democrats to stop some of the worst overreaches of Trumpism — like when Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or when Schumer ended January’s government shutdown by acceding to the Trump administration’s demands to not include protections for DREAMers in a federal spending bill.
As Grit Post previously reported, Schumer naively took Republicans at their word when they promised to adjourn to allow senators to return to their home states and campaign if Schumer agreed to confirm 15 more Trump-appointed federal judges to lifetime positions. Instead, after Schumer allowed the judges to be confirmed, Republicans continued to move several judicial appointments forward while the senate was in recess.
Rather than elect Nancy Pelosi to yet another term as House Speaker, or Chuck Schumer to another term as Senate Minority Leader, Democrats should find capable leaders who can do the hard work of whipping votes for legislation while simultaneously battling any and every Republican attempt to redistribute common wealth to the wealthy, destroy the environment for profit, and undermine democratic institutions.
House Democrats like Maxine Waters (D-California), Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) would be great options for speaker, and senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) should consider a run for Senate Minority Leader. Yes, Americans voted for results Tuesday night, but Americans also voted for a Congress with a spine that would stand up and oppose an administration that thrives on hate, racism, and fear. The next crop of Democratic leadership should reflect that.