As impeachment fizzles out, Democrats must remain focused on realistic, mainstream policies, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) warned her colleagues Friday.
The party leader urged Democrats to dismiss the “exuberances” of the party’s more ambitious far-left and cater to the center if they want to beat Donald Trump in November, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Pelosi’s warning comes as the Democrats head into a fluid caucus in Iowa that has the Democratic establishment on edge and in fear of losing control to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Pelosi’s threat to Dems: Toe the line
As the impeachment fantasy dies and reality sets in, Democrats find themselves back at square one: figuring out how to beat Trump at the ballot box. Should they back an establishment candidate like Joe Biden, whose policies are moderate but may have more broad appeal, or someone promising revolutionary change like Sanders?
For her part, Pelosi told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that Democrats took back the majority in 2018 with a mainstream message and that Medicare for All, Sanders’ flagship policy, is “lovely in concept” but “not a winning message.” It’s critical that the party not get distracted by “carving up a pie we don’t even have,” she said.
“I just say to all of our friends, you know, you want to go to the left? You want to win the election? Let’s make a decision to win the election. And when you make a decision to win the election, you have to make every decision in favor of winning,” Pelosi said.
In spite of the illusion of party unity created by the impeachment drama, Pelosi has frequently criticized progressives like those in the so-called “Squad,” such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and their far-left policies. In November, Pelosi urged Democrats to remember that what “works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan” and admitted that the left is “unhappy with me for not being a socialist,” according to The Hill.
The San Francisco Democrat had long avoided impeaching Trump before taking the fateful plunge in September, spurred by a phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine. But many wondered what Pelosi was thinking, since Trump’s removal from office was never seen as a realistic scenario even by Democrats.
Indeed, impeachment is ending exactly as predicted, with Donald Trump expected to sail to an acquittal vote this week after Republicans shut down a push from Democrats for more witnesses Friday. The trial will not formally end until Wednesday’s vote, however, forcing Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to remain in Washington during the Iowa caucuses, according to USA Today.
Some have suggested that Pelosi’s hand was forced and that she sought to drag out Trump’s impeachment trial as long as possible to keep Sanders and Warren off the campaign trail during early nominating contests. President Trump himself has even suggested that Pelosi was trying to give “Sleepy” Joe Biden a boost by taking Sanders “out of so important Iowa” with the “Impeachment Hoax Trial.”
They are rigging the election again against Bernie Sanders, just like last time, only even more obviously. They are bringing him out of so important Iowa in order that, as a Senator, he sit through the Impeachment Hoax Trial. Crazy Nancy thereby gives the strong edge to Sleepy…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
Rigged against Sanders?
Indeed, as impeachment fades, Democratic infighting is heating up — and the establishment’s knives have come out especially for Sanders as polls project that he may indeed win Iowa. Hillary Clinton, Warren, and much of the mainstream media have attacked Sanders, and it has even been reported that Barack Obama may personally intervene to stop him if he wins Iowa.
Politico reported that some Democratic Party officials discussed undoing a rules change that would allow so-called superdelegates to vote on the first ballot in the party’s convention. In 2016, Sanders supporters complained that superdelegates, who are unpledged and therefore allowed to choose whichever nominee they prefer, gave Hillary Clinton an advantage, and the rules were modified so that they could only vote in a brokered convention.
The Iowa caucuses will give the first real test of whether the party is sticking to Pelosi’s centrist model or moving in a more progressive direction. However, there remains a lot of uncertainty over Monday night’s results because of a change in the caucus rules that may allow more than one candidate to claim victory.
Only time will tell how the nation’s first primary contest plays out.