If traditional Democrats think the new Congress will be business as usual they better think again. The resurgent left-wing of the party is in no mood to compromise or to forego the ideals of their progressive agenda. They believe that their intense grass-roots activism led to the Democrats taking back control of the House, and they want to make sure Democratic congressional leaders listen to them as we move forward into a new year and a new era in Washington.
In fact leaders of progressive groups have warned Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) that they will face an angry backlash from their liberal base if they compromise on Trump’s border wall.
Charles Chamberlain, chairman of Democracy for America, a grassroots liberal advocacy group, correctly pointed out the reason why, saying:
“Americans overwhelmingly voted for Democratic control of the House to put a check on Trump on exactly this kind of reckless behavior.”
“Democrats need to stand up for American values and a check on Trump, over and over again, as many times as they have to, to defeat the worst policies of this administration. That’s what we’re expecting them to do and if there’s brinksmanship from Trump that causes damage to America, that’s on Trump.”
Other progressive leaders warn of repercussions if Schumer and Pelosi give Trump something that allow him to declare a victory for his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Heidi Hess, the co-director of CREDO Action, another grassroots liberal advocacy group, said Schumer and Pelosi need to stand up to Trump. They don’t want to allow the president to try to bully Democrats by holding other must-pass bills hostage, such as the debt ceiling increase.
“We just don’t see any reason why Democrats should be compromising,” she said. “This is Trump’s shutdown over a wall that is going to do nothing, that he promised Mexico would pay for.”
Then she added:
“We actually have an opportunity and a mandate as Democrats and progressives to really show what we stand for and how we’re willing to stand up for our values and not compromise them. It’s certainly our belief that what Pelosi and Schumer should do.”
Democratic leaders don’t appear to be backing down. Pelosi in an interview with NBC’s “Today,” due to air Thursday morning, said Trump will not get any money from Democrats for a wall.
Asked by host Savannah Guthrie if Democrats would give any ground, Pelosi responded, Pelosi responded, “No, no. Nothing for the wall.”
Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal advocacy group, said Schumer and Pelosi may be able to give Trump some more money for border fencing if they get a meaningful concession in return, but he ruled out Trump’s full request of $5.6 billion as a nonstarter.
“He’s got to give them something,” he said of Trump. “What I don’t think he’s ever going to get is $5.6 billion or $5 billion. If they did that, there would be a push back on that.”
What this discussion makes clear is that the left-wing of the Democratic Party is going to make sure Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer honor their commitments. Progressives in the coming year will not tolerate giving in to Trump’s bullying tactics. Even though Pelosi and Schumer are in charge of Democrats in Congress, they need to remember who put them there: progressive American voters and activists.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.