Once again, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have been elected as heads of their respective congressional bodies, Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Schumer as Senate Minority Leader. While it is likely unsurprising to most of our readers and listeners to the podcast, it is deeply troubling that their lack of legislative or electoral success has not dampened DNC enthusiasm over their very long tenures.
Nancy Pelosi, 80, has led Democrats in the House through the terms of three presidents going back to 2003, having served in the house since 1987, while Schumer, 70, has led the minority since 2017 and been in the Senate since 1999.
As we have reached the end of the 2020 elections in most states, it is clear that under their leadership the Democratic party has grown weaker, both in the substance of their policy proposals and in their ability to message to the American people a vision for a different America.
After the party lost to one of the most unlikely candidates in modern American history in 2016, they had a second shot in 2020 to demonstrate Americans preference for pro-worker reforms. By 2020, Trump had cut taxes for the rich (and increased them for working people over the next ten years), reversed a number of common-sense regulations (including those to insure the conservation of US land and water, protections for mental healthcare, and more), and bungled the country into the worst pandemic it has seen in over a century. On the international arena, in four short years, he managed to ideologically weaken NATO, give a free pass to the Saudis to kill American residents, allow Iran to restart uranium enrichment with impunity, shatter our relations with South Korea, and permit North Korea to successfully acquire and test nuclear weapons and ICBMs and threaten the United States with cataclysmic destruction.
Democrats have also failed their constituencies and all Americans during this pandemic. They were slow to act and follow the science and leadership of other nations, like Taiwan, that knew what was coming and took decisive action. They have even failed to produced even the most modest of social safety nets. Pelosi refused to come to an agreement to pass a second stimulus bill after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already agreed to a 1.8 trillion dollar bill. Granted McConnell is the self-described “grim reaper” and it’s clearly only interested in helping his donors amass more wealth.
Pelosi in her hubris believed that the Democrats would win seats, even though they offered nothing substantive to their base, only vicious rhetorical attacks and smears. It seems she thought that with the Senate under Democratic control she could pass the stimulus bill she wanted. She was wrong on both counts and may have hurt Democratic turnout due to her unwillingness to give even the most measly scraps to the people that she feels owe her a vote. This sort of entitlement is rampant in the Democratic party and can be seen acutely in how they expect people of color to owe the DNC their vote without any policies in return.
Yet with all of this, the Democrats still barely won the presidency, lost seats in the House, and may not even gain parity in the Senate, apparently unbelievable on the surface.
However, we all know the Democrats, especially their leadership, are historically weak in all facets of their leadership, even in their corruption. They love donor money, and make no secret of this, but while they don’t even bother to take as much as Republicans, they are generally even more subservient to the status quo at the expense of their base in the pursuit of service to the donor class of elites.
This is a large part of the reason why the Democrats have done so poorly. They could choose to defend policies that their base, and generally the American people, are overwhelmingly in favor of. For example Medicare for All, ending the wars, legalizing cannabis, and the list goes on. However, this would conflict with the agenda of the donor class, and re-election contributions is their main motivating factor. They know that as long as workers continue to hate the archetypal conservative more than they hate the DNC, they keep the money flowing, and win or lose elections, the leadership will keep their jobs, either in office, or as a funded lobbyists or paid speaker waiting for the next election cycle.
Writers: Jordan F and Ari B