Over the past few weeks, two factions in the Democratic Party have been locked in a political civil war that has the chattering class buzzing and conservatives smirking over their buckets of popcorn. The infighting has provided the nation a spectacle resembling the verbal version of a WWE pay-per-view event.
The Justice Democrats, represented by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the Democratic establishment, headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), are engaged in what appears to be a bitter power struggle. Interestingly enough, the two sides use the same race-baiting tactics they typically reserve for Republicans.
Justice Democrats vs. Establishment
While relations between the intersectional and traditional wings of the Democratic Party have been souring since the 2016 election, the genesis of the current conflict can be traced back to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and her smackdown of former Vice President Joe Biden at the recent Democratic presidential debates. At one point, Harris all but called Biden a racist because of his previous position on using forced busing to desegregate schools.
It seems that the Justice Democrats took a page from Harris’ playbook to launch race-based attacks against their opposition within the party. Just days ago, Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at Pelosi with a thinly veiled accusation of racism after the Speaker made some disparaging comments about the New York representative and her colleagues in an interview. In a conversation with The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez called out Pelosi for her remarks: “But the persistent singling out … it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly-elected women of color.”
Not to be outdone, Pressley went after the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) after it expressed concerns that the Justice Democrats are targeting black lawmakers to primary during the 2020 elections. While sitting on a panel at the Netroots Nation convention in Philadelphia, she clapped back at the CBC:
“I don’t want to bring a chair to an old table. This is the time to shake the table. This is the time to redefine that table. Because if you’re going to come to this table, all of you who have aspirations of running for office. If you’re not prepared to come to that table and represent that voice, don’t come, because we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.”
Make no mistake: This statement is simply a nicer way to call black Democratic politicians Uncle Toms. Perhaps the targets of this attack will now realize how it feels to be a black conservative, right? But that wasn’t the end of it.
The House Democratic Caucus and the Justice Democrats traded verbal blows on Twitter. The House Democratic Caucus’ Twitter account shared a tweet from Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, that accused Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), a Native American, of enabling “a racist system.” Chakrabarti tweeted: “I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system. And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system.”
House Democrats slammed Chakrabarti for his comments, tweeting “Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color? Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice. She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue. Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth.”
Are you having fun yet? If you’re on the right, this fiasco is probably pretty entertaining, but could this latest conflict be a harbinger of things to come for the Democratic Party?
Future of the Democratic Party?
Harris’ race-based attack on Biden was the first shot fired in what will likely be a bitter feud between the intersectional wing of the Democratic Party and the establishment. The exchanges that followed between the two factions have the potential to escalate into an all-out power struggle that will determine how far left the party will move. But what happens if the progressive sect triumphs?
If the Democratic Party goes all in on intersectionality, the country can expect to see a level of identity politics unsurpassed in America’s history. This ideology is based on the notion that one’s level of oppression dictates one’s level of influence. This requires a litmus test of sorts that bases support on how “woke” the subject is.
The inevitable result of a party — or any other group — ruled by the precepts of intersectionality is a virtual implosion. When you have an organization full of people from different backgrounds and identities, an intersectional approach will result in escalating infighting. Take a look at the issues plaguing the Women’s March to see how extreme reliance on this ideology can wreak havoc in any organization made up of people from various identity groups.
A more intersectional Democratic Party could all but doom its chances of winning major victories in the future. While many Democratic voters lean left, all do not favor the increasing obsession with identity politics and tilting at imaginary bigotry windmills. Moreover, this approach will almost certainly alienate independents and those in or near the center, many of whom supported Trump. The battle between the two sects of the Democratic Party seems to be in full swing, and if even if the intersectional crowd does not win, it is clear that its increasing influence will create even more division in the government and American society.