The far-left of the Democratic Party is out of the spotlight. Out of the spotlight, but clearly still within the crosshairs of their colleagues.
Its young congressional leaders, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, the fresh-faced consciences of the swamp, are all-three the targets of finance investigations. Two are tangled in credible accusations of anti-Semitism, and one is mired in a hard-to-believe incestual infidelity scandal with a married man on her payroll.
Their outside support, which so successfully took media credit for gathering hundreds of thousands of liberals who’d booked non-refundable hotels and plane tickets to Her D.C. inauguration and became the Women’s March, has collapsed amid credible accusations of racism and, you guessed it, anti-Semitism. And the New York/D.C. media that ran glowing profile after fawning profile months ago don’t seem to visit any more.
Somebody is at the door, though. An important story lost below the din of the primaries, impeachment, and rallies is the growing party rancor toward a vocal left flank the politicians have correctly identified as weakened.
Members of “The Squad’s” freshman congressional class, which largely ran against President Donald Trump and not for socialism, have begun to flock to Vice President Joe Biden as Sen. Bernie Sanders gathers party faithful, Politico reported Sunday. “More than a dozen swing-seat freshmen have taken part in at least one private call session with Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg in recent weeks,” they reported, adding, “A handful have already gravitated toward the former vice president, and more are expected to follow” before the primary voting begins.
Days before, fellow Queens Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks openly criticized Ocasio-Cortez to Fox News for her refusal to pay congressional party dues and insistence on instead using her sizable fundraising to pay for far-left candidates and primary challenges to her Democratic colleagues.
It’s no surprise Ocasio-Cortz is not paying dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Like leadership operations in any political party, the committee doesn’t like the ideological primaries against members she has made her name on, and seek to blackball those involved in any capacity. What is a surprise is the rising willingness to publicly speak against Ocasio-Cortez and her inside and outside allies, even by a 22-year incumbent in her very neighborhood. It appears the trance is broken.
Back in Washington on Wednesday, a smiling, laughing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named her impeachment team for the Senate trial, having delayed its date to the point that the trial will likely force Sanders and Warren off the campaign trail at a critical time. This, conservative Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen points out, will benefit Biden at the expense of his closest rivals.
There’s no definitive proof that strengthening Biden’s hand was part of Pelosi’s otherwise-doomed ploy, but there is plenty evidence she, like all Democratic leaders, is not a fan of the rogue Sanders or his supporters in her caucus. The absence of howling protests over the delay from The Squad is entirely in line with the lack of talent for tactics they have displayed to date, and Pelosi can comfortably assume Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will take their blame if all happens as Olsen predicts.
No doubt, Ocasio-Cortez’s immediate goal is her ally Sanders winning the primary. Toward that objective, the lies, back-stabbing, and attacks they have and will continue to face from former fellow travelers will be as vicious as they are relentless. Both he and she know, however, the ultimate goal is the transformation of the Democratic Party.
If they defeat the frantically-forming Biden wing of the party to win the primary, that prize will at once become more attainable and more imperiled than its been in 75 years, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s socialist vice president was removed from the ticket — and thereby ascendancy to the presidency — for FDR’s final re-election campaign.
A Sanders loss to Trump, which in 2020 is far more likely than it would have been in 2016, would result in party retribution against all involved. Primaries and political exiles would be sure to follow. Then, a similar fate was assured conservatives after Sen. Barry Goldwater’s general election loss and, 12 years later, Gov. Ronald Reagan’s unsuccessful primary against sitting Republican President Gerald Ford. A political movement far stronger than Washington party politics saw to scuttling those planned executions.
This battle may be Sanders’s last stand, but the war for control of the Democratic Party has just begun.