He Who Primaries Can Be Primaried
Republicans and Democrats both battle over party doctrine and control. The difference with the Democrats is that their discontents often don't stop fighting after the results are in. They continue the hostilities rather than unite in common cause with fellow Democrats whom they disdainfully call "the establishment."
Case in point is the campaign by Democratic "rebels" against efforts to return Nancy Pelosi to the House speaker's chair. Of course, any Democrat is perfectly within his or her rights to want a new head of party. Speakers get elected, not crowned.
But the problem with the anti-Pelosi faction, led by Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, isn't the desire for changed leadership. It's that the insurgents have absolutely no one to replace Pelosi with. Thus, they have interrupted the Democrats' ascension to power with pointless acrimony.
Moulton did back Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio as a replacement. Thing is, Fudge never volunteered for the job. She danced with the idea. After a face-to-face chat with Pelosi, Fudge quickly dropped it. That gave the rebellion an air of mere posturing -- creating a nuisance at a pivotal time for Democrats and the nation.
Many Democrats are getting tired of the chronic complaining by some progressives. They see American institutions in code-red crisis. They want the left to swallow some of its differences in the interests of restoring norms. And they see the left-wing attacks against Pelosi as parroting the right-wing ones.
They've also lost patience with Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus. The group ostensibly promotes bipartisanship, but its Republican members vote overwhelmingly along the Trump party line. The caucus says it won't back Pelosi until certain demands are met.
Democrats are now threatening to primary members of both groups in 2020. But the greatest anger seems to be directed at champions of the aggressive left who think it their duty to smite centrist Democrats.
Moulton must have been surprised at a recent town hall meeting when his own voters went on the attack. Many fumed at his speech about how the party needs younger leaders, obviously referring to 78-year-old Pelosi. He then grumbled that he doesn't want to reinstall "the same status quo leadership we've had since 2006."
Constituents have accused him of ageism -- an ageism perceived to single out women. He has asserted, "The majority of Democrats want this change." Oh? When was that vote taken?
"For those asking," tweeted a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman, "Moulton IS NOT on our payroll."
Bitter memories remain fresh at the scorched-earth campaign against Hillary Clinton by Bernie Sanders and his "bros." His being 75 was apparently not a disqualifier for Sanders' ardent supporters.
Again, there's nothing wrong with challenging an incumbent in a primary. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did and won her race against a powerful New York Democrat fair and square.
But as soon as Ocasio-Cortez made the big headlines, she announced plans to help defeat not Republicans but "establishment" Democrats in other parts of the country. She immediately sent staff to Delaware to back an insurgent running against a perfectly respectable Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper. That her mission failed was a bit of luck for Democrats. (To her credit, she didn't join the anti-Pelosi rebels.)
She and Sanders then embarked on a roadshow endorsing left-wingers in regions that don't cotton to left-wingers. Fortunately for Democrats, their candidates mostly lost the primaries. That is why Michigan will soon have a Democratic governor and eastern Kansas is sending a new Democrat to Congress.
The passionate left should stop ignoring that Democrats just flipped at least 39 House seats under the current leadership. Pelosi is obviously doing something right. Heretic hunting season is over. And do be mindful: He or she who primaries can also be primaried.
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