Liberals’ Tea Party and Power Centers within the Fractured Democrats

A Journal of People report

A group of liberals are putting pressure on Democratic Party to move it left.
An AP report said: Amid anti-Trump protests, liberals have begun taking aim at a different target: Their own party.
The “Tea party parallel? Liberals taking aim at their own party” headlined report said:
“Over the past few weeks, activists have formed a number of organizations threatening a primary challenge to Democratic lawmakers who offer anything less than complete resistance to the Republican president.
“‘We’re not interested in unity,’ said Cenk Uygur, the founder of Justice Democrats, a new organization that’s pledged to replace ‘every establishment politician’ in Congress. ‘We can’t beat the Republicans unless we have good, honest, uncorrupted candidates.’”The report by Lisa Lerer and Nicholas Riccardi said:
“Four days after Donald Trump’s surprising White House victory, the liberal organization CREDO Action fired off a frantic warning to its 4.6 million anxious supporters.
“Their worry wasn’t the new president. It was his opposition.
“‘Democratic leaders have been welcoming Trump,’ the email said. ‘That’s not acceptable. Democratic leaders need to stand up and fight. Now.’”
The Washington datelined report said:
“While party leaders have urged Democrats to keep their attacks focused on Trump, the liberal grass roots sees the fresh wave of opposition energy as an opportunity to push their party to the left and wrest power from longtime party stalwarts.”
It said:
“Like Uygur, many founders of the new groups are supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, eager to continue their effort to remake the Democratic Party.
“Uygur’s group says they’ve already found 70 possible candidates who will refuse corporate campaign donations while running for Congress — challenging elected Democrats if needed. Those people are now going through candidate training.”
The report added:
“A coalition named ‘WeWillReplaceYou’ is urging Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York to remove Manchin from his new role in the party leadership after Manchin expressed openness to working with Trump.
“‘If you want to go ahead and beat me up in a primary then go ahead,’ Manchin said. ‘All it does is take the resources from the general.’”
The AP report said:
“Even without primaries, the party faces a challenging political map in 2018. Republicans will be defending just eight Senate seats, while Democrats must hold 23 — plus two filled by independents who caucus with them. Ten of those races are in states Trump carried last November.
“The activists say they’re willing to trade power for conviction.
“‘I’d rather have 44 or 45 awesome Democrats who are lockstep together than 44 or 45 really awesome Democrats and three to four weak-kneed individuals who are going to dilute the party,’ said Murshed Zaheed, CREDO’s political director.”
The report refers to post-election shift among Democrats, and said:
“Initially, Schumer and even liberals such as Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren cautiously spoke of working with Trump on certain issues. After the wave of liberal fury, most Democrats have shifted into full opposition mode.
“‘Democrats have a reflexive instinct to compromise,’ said Ben Wikler of MoveOn.org, which has directed its members to protest at Democratic as well as Republican congressional offices. ‘At this moment of successive Trump crises, resistance rather than compromise is what the country needs.’”
On victory to next year, the report said:
“Democratic leaders say the path to victory next year depends on a strong economic message, one that casts Trump as betraying the working-class voters who boosted him to victory.
“‘What we have in common, whether you’re West Virginia or Massachusetts or Kansas is a commitment to economic opportunity,’ said Tom Perez, the newly elected Democratic National Committee chairman.”
It said:
“A memo this past week from Priorities USA gave Democrats a ‘10-point checklist’ for criticizing Trump’s economic policies and conflicts of interest, saying the party cannot simply count on the president to remain ‘his own worst enemy.’
“Many of the most vulnerable Democratic senators avoided town halls meetings during the congressional recess last week, hoping to evade politically damaging confrontations.”
The report added:
“Party officials are trying to channel the new energy into more targeted electoral efforts.
“In the weeks after Election Day, the Ohio Democratic Party held a series of meetings across the state with new activists. Since then, they’ve teamed up with some organizations for events.
“‘Our goal is to build good relationships so that come spring, summer of ’18 everyone moves to an election mindset,’ said David Pepper, the state party chairman.
“Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee installed full-time organizers in 20 swing districts, with the goal of building stronger connections with activist groups.
“Their message: ‘We can’t add by subtracting,’ said the committee chairman, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico.
“That may be a hard sell for some of the new anti-Trump organizations.
“‘Something the tea party was really smart about early on was not giving a big bear hug to the Republican National Committee,’ said Ezra Levin, the executive director of the new anti-Trump group Indivisible. ‘Keeping the political parties at arm’s length is crucial to remaining an outside political force.’
The AP report referred to the Tea Party movement, where conservative activists defeated several centrist Republican incumbents. Their efforts reverberated through the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, forcing candidates to the right on economic issues.
An analysis in NBC News provides further insights into the Democratic Party.
The March 6, 2017 dated analysis by Alex Seitz-Wald said:
“The Democratic National Committee may have a new chairman, but Tom Perez will head just one of a handful of emerging power centers in a fractured opposition party struggling to find its way in President Donald Trump’s America.
“The November elections decapitated the party and scuttled succession plans, which were dependent on a seamless pass of the baton from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton. The result is a party without a single leader or a unified chain of command — and no clear heir apparent to the failed Democratic nominee.
“‘Our mode throughout has been pretty clear that this movement doesn’t have a leader,’ said Ezra Levin, a co-founder of Indivisible, the dramatically expanding liberal answer to the tea party. ‘You have to have some faith in people once they’ve been activated to figure out their next steps.’”
The “Five New Power Centers: A Guide to the Fractured Democrats” headlined analysis said:
“While Democrats are united against a common enemy in Trump, they are divided about how to best oppose him and in competition with one another for money, the message and power.”
It provided “field guide the party’s five main fiefdoms as they jockey for influence”:
1. The DNC
“The official party machinery rusted with neglect under Obama and lost ground to super PACs and other outside groups that can accept bigger checks.
“Like a field marshal, Perez will have to act as a facilitator among the sprawling set of elected officials, state parties and interest groups across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic Party.”
2. Outside Groups
“There are dozens of deep-pocketed interest groups aligned with Democrats, from women’s group like EMILY’s List to labor unions to environmental PACs. But three major pillars of the unofficial Democratic Party are maneuvering to find a lane for themselves in the opposition.
• Priorities USA spent nearly $200 million supporting Clinton during the 2016 election, mainly on TV ads. But now the super PAC is shifting emphasis to a related nonprofit organization as it seeks to morph into a service center for the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ movement, just as groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity did for the tea party in 2009.
• The constellation of groups started by conservative-turned-liberal operative David Brock will continue to pump out opposition research on Trump and other Republicans.
‘Brock’s organizations, including Media Matters and American Bridge, have become the heart of the party’s research and communications infrastructure in the third-party space,’ said Bradley Beychok, Brock’s chief of staff.
‘American Bridge’s Trump operation in specific is the most robust of its kind in our party’s history and is equipped with unparalleled resources, including tracking footage, original research and more, that will be deployed to hold Trump accountable and counter his agenda,’ Beychok said.
• The Center for American Progress, a major liberal think tank, is retooling to be more political, with a particular focus on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and tools to support local protests.
‘CAP will be the engine of ideas for the resistance,’ said Adam Jentleson, the group’s senior strategic adviser, who was an aide to former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.’ We will be the place where opposition policy analysis, aggressive press strategies, and online and traditional organizing all come together.’”
3. In the States
“Blue states have already scored key wins against the administration in the courts …
“For instance, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which never had full-time staff until last year, has dramatically expanded for the Trump era to coordinate litigation against the administration and help state attorney general candidates win elections.
“Democratic attorneys general happened to be together at a conference in Florida when the White House rolled out Trump’s executive order on limiting entry to the United States by immigrants in January. They immediately huddled and within hours devised the legal strategy that led to a victory in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which halted the ban.
“Meanwhile, Democratic secretaries of state have also started coordinating more closely and getting more political to push back on efforts to impose new restrictions on voting. ‘Our work has fundamentally changed since the election,’ California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.
“Democratic leaders who control California have declared their intention to use the state’s massive size and economy as a counterweight to Washington, with Gov. Jerry Brown vowing he’d even start his own space program if Trump cuts funding for climate satellites.
“Democratic governors nationwide are bullish about their prospects in the 2017-18 elections, while their colleagues in Congress acknowledge that they face an uphill battle in capturing either chamber because of a Republican-friendly set of races in the Senate and gerrymandering in the House. The result could give governors more influence in a party that has often looked to the Senate for presidential candidates and national leadership.”
4. Hill Leaders
“In addition to steering the party’s policy agenda, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, oversee powerful campaign organs that will spend tens of millions of dollars on next year’s midterm congressional elections.
“Neither Schumer nor Pelosi endorsed Perez in the DNC contest for chairman, and their top political priorities will always be competitive Senate and House races and countering Trump legislative efforts — not necessarily rebuilding the Democratic Party as a whole.
“Senate Democrats are the first line of defense against Trump’s agenda. With the filibuster, they hold the party’s best tool to stop or at least slow Republican legislation and Trump’s nominees, including those for the Supreme Court.
“By completely withholding their support, Democratic lawmakers are making repealing the Affordable Care Act extremely difficult for Republicans. And House Democrats may soon have chips to cash in if their votes are needed to raise the debt ceiling, because some conservatives are expected to refuse to do so.”
5. Shadow Players
“The Obamas and the Clintons and the Bidens have stepped out of the spotlight, but they will continue to wield power behind the scenes, thanks the armies of operatives, donors and elected officials who remain loyal to them.
“Obama and both Hillary and Bill Clinton were closely watching the DNC’s recent elections. Former Vice President Joe Biden and top Obama aides like Valerie Jarrett worked the phones for Perez, whom the former president personally lobbied to enter the race. And other DNC candidates sought the blessing of the Clintons for their bids.
“Obama has thrown his weight behind a major campaign on congressional redistricting, run by his former attorney general Eric Holder. And he can ultimately decide the fate of Organizing for Action, the group that grew out of his presidential campaigns. OFA recently relaunched to criticism from many Democrats, who say it undercut the official party.
“Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has been an active campaigner for down-ballot Democrats, and he is known to wield his celebrity and fundraising prowess to snub Democrats who have crossed him or his wife.”

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