At first I worried about Republican prospects for the upcoming midterms. Surely, thought I, Democrats would learn a hard lesson on the cheap in 2020. They already have begun discussing how they managed to lose ground everywhere else while winning the presidential election, hinting that their progressive leadership had marched them into a cul-de-sac.
And then I read about today’s leadership elections in the House Democratic caucus. Hope restored!
House Democrats on Wednesday will launch the delicate affair of choosing their leadership team in the next Congress, a routine exercise that’s taken on outsized significance following the party’s battering at the polls two weeks ago.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — are all running uncontested, setting the stage for the same power lineup to return for another term after 14 years together at the helm.
That grip on authority comes even despite some rank-and-file lobbying for a leadership facelift following a dismal election cycle when Democrats were forecasting large gains in the lower chamber, only to see their majority shrink instead.
Emphasis mine. It’s not just Pelosi who won’t get challenged, but her entire octagenarian entourage getting a free pass, too. This leadership team has generated the worst performance in a presidential-election win than any time in modern history, at least to my recollection, and they’re not just getting another two years at the top — their caucus isn’t even bothering to challenge their ineptitude.
Has there ever been a caucus leader who arguably lost five out of six elections, including two presidential cycles won by her party (2012 and 2020), that has gotten a free pass for another term as leader? Democrats had more cojones two years ago when they briefly forced Pelosi into pledging to only run for one more term as Speaker, and Pelosi actually won those midterms. After this embarrassing performance, they’re not even bothering to hold her to that promise or even make her work hard to break it. Pathetic.
Over in the Senate, it’s looking like more of the same, although Chuck Schumer’s at least a bit more humble about it. The once and future Senate Minority Leader has held two “listening sessions” with his caucus to allow them to vent about what went wrong in 2020, but no one’s challenging him either:
Schumer has largely stayed quiet on the calls, giving his colleagues a chance to speak freely without interruption, Democratic senators say.
No one criticized Schumer’s leadership directly but there were some comments that were viewed as indirect criticisms of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Democratic senators said Schumer has done a good job maintaining relations within the Democratic caucus and keeping the party unified on key votes. Lawmakers said no colleague has offered himself or herself as a leadership alternative.
Not even when decisions like this are laid at Schumer’s doorstep?
In particular, there’s some second-guessing of the DSCC’s decision to back Amy McGrath, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot, in the Kentucky Democratic primary over Charles Booker, a state representative.
Schumer played an active role in recruiting McGrath to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who wound up winning re-election by 20 percentage points, even after McGrath raised $90 million for her campaign.
Basically, Democrats in the House and Senate are incentivizing failure by allowing their barnacle-encrusted progressive leadership to escape any accountability whatsoever. That makes me very hopeful for the 2022 elections, especially after voters get a load of the barnacle-encrusted president they just elected.