The 2018 midterm elections brought in the most diverse congressional body in history on the Democratic side of the aisle. But the response to that diversity from some key political leaders might be sending some Americans a message that there are limits to the amount of tolerance for ideological diversity — even on the left.
President Trump has attracted significant criticism since tweeting a video that takes Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comments about the 9/11 attacks out of context.
Omar (D-Minn.) has been a frequent critic of Trump’s since before she came to Washington. As a result, she has found herself on the receiving end of repeated criticism from the president and his closest allies. Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent argued that Trump’s tweeting of the video was intended to silence Omar.
“They are trying to demagogue into silence someone who is an outspoken resister of the use of 9/11 for discriminatory purposes and a vocal advocate for the rights of U.S. Muslims,” he wrote. “The clipped video itself proves the point — it actively does this, by only quoting the supposed trivializing of 9/11 and leaving out that advocacy.
“We know that this is Trump’s intention — and that he aims to incite hate in the process — because he has shown us so himself.”
But the apparent minimizing of the voices of some of the left’s more liberal lawmakers isn’t only coming from the GOP. Internal conflicts within the Democratic Party have gotten quite a bit of attention as well.
In a “60 Minutes” interview with CBS News’s Lesley Stahl, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared to dismiss members of the more liberal wing of her party.
“You have these wings, like AOC and her group, on one side,” said Stahl, referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Pelosi: “That’s like five people.”
Stahl: “No, it’s the progressive group; it’s more than five.”
Pelosi said she also is progressive, but other Democrats whose worldviews mirror those of Ocasio-Cortez’s and Omar’s saw one more slight from an establishment liberal who is more interested in the status quo than reform.
Waleed Shahid, a former staffer for Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), tweeted: “That’s quite a way to welcome a new generation of mostly progressive women of color entering the Democratic Party who are activating young people, people of color, and working-class voters of all backgrounds.”
Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the liberal group Democracy for America, told The Post’s Rachael Bade and Paul Kane: “What we’re seeing here is old-guard leadership trying to marginalize some of the big change agents who were elected in 2018 because they’re afraid of what it means to their leadership in the future."
Even if the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the House is just five people, these individuals represent the political worldview of thousands beyond them. Minimizing the lawmakers probably will be received by some as a dismissal of their constituencies — Americans who helped Democrats retake the House and, as a result, played a part in Pelosi becoming the speaker. If the Democrats want to maintain their power in 2020, or expand it, leaders might want to better communicate the idea that the most liberal lawmakers and the people who they speak for have value beyond their numbers.