By supporting corporate-friendly candidates and policies , Congressional Democratic leaders are be moving closer and closer toward open warfare with their party ’ s base .
There is a real need to raise money , of course . But the party ’ s leaders have chosen to raise and spend money in ways that conflict with voters and render it all but ineffective as a force for much-needed change .
Under the best-case scenario , the party ’ s establishment is heading toward a Pyrrhic victory . And other , grimmer scenarios are possible .
Democrat vs . Democrat
A majority of Democratic voters , led by black , brown , and female Democrats , told pollsters in a recent study that they supported “ movements within the Democratic Party to take it even further to the left and oppose the current Democratic leaders .” A new study by Data For Progress shows that “ the Democratic Party ’ s base has moved left ” and that voters overall “ are ready for unabashed progressive politicians .”
And yet , as if determined to block their own party ’ s progress , House Democratic operatives have been attacking progressive candidates in public and working to undermine them in private .
The party ’ s antipathy for progressive candidates and ideas seems to grow more conspicuous with each passing day . The party ’ s penchant for “ centrist ,” corporate-friendly candidates has long been the subject of Washington cocktail-hour talk , but a series of news reports has placed it squarely in the public eye . First , there was the smear attack against Laura Moser , who is running in a Texas congressional primary . In language worthy of the cheapest Republican hit job , the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ( DCCC ) called Moser a “ Washington insider ” and accused her of disliking life in Texas . ( Moser had expressed antipathy for her home town , not the state , saying “ that [ was ] a story for another day .”) A DCCC spokesperson called Moser “ unqualified ” and doubled down on the deception with a comment about “ Laura Moser ’ s outright disgust for life in Texas .”
Moser responded with an attack on “ party bosses ” in “ smoke filled rooms ” who are “ trying to tell Texas what to do ,” and was rewarded with a fundraising surge that almost certainly helped her win a spot in her district ’ s upcoming runoff election .
More recently , The Intercept published the contents of a secretly-recorded tape in which Steny Hoyer , the second-highest ranking House Democrat , openly acknowledges that the party was intervening in a Colorado primary on behalf of corporate lawyer Jason Crow . On the tape , Hoyer repeatedly asks Crow opponent Levi Tillemann to leave the race .
As the Philadelphia Inquirer ’ s Will Bunch points out , the party ’ s infrastructure is working against elements of the very anti-Trump resistance that represents its greatest hope for victory . Nevertheless , Hoyer defends the practice of intervening in local Democratic primaries .
“ Staying out of primaries sounds small-D democratic , very intellectual , and very interesting ,” said Hoyer , who claimed the result would be that “ somebody wins in the primary who can ’ t possibly win in the general .”
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Hoyer after the Tillemann tape became public , calling it “ a conversation about the realities of life .”
“ What ’ s important in all of this is that one in five children in America lives in poverty and goes to sleep hungry ,” said Pelosi . “ That ’ s what makes this election so urgent , for our children . So if the reality is that some candidates can get into the general [ more ] than others , then that ’ s a clear-eyes conversation .”
Money For Nothing
Hoyer ’ s contemptuous dismissal of democratic governance as “ intellectual ” and “ interesting ,” and Pelosi ’ s defense of his actions , obscure a “ reality of life ” that is nearly as important as the principle that primary voters should choose their own candidates : The Democratic establishment has been notoriously terrible at picking winners .
A truly clear-eyed assessment of the Democratic Party ’ s recent record would show that , under its current leaders , the party lost both houses of Congress and roughly 1,000 seats in state legislatures during the Obama years . The fact that the electoral tide seems to have shifted this year says little about their leadership . The shift is largely due to the party base ’ s understandable horror at Trump ’ s leadership .
In a 2013 PowerPoint slide , the DCCC famously told freshmen Democrats in Congress that they should plan on spending four hours a day raising money for their re-election campaigns .
The party is using its candidates to feed an infrastructure of