Progressive wing of Democratic Party is unhappy with Biden’s cabinet picks so far

In the run-up to the election, Democratic nominee Joe Biden repeatedly vowed that, if elected, he would construct a “unity” cabinet of officials and advisers that would bring together the center-left moderates and far-left progressives that make up the base of the party.

However, this isn’t what has occurred since Biden was declared by the media to be the president-elect, and while the progressives aren’t quite ready to revolt over Biden’s predominately establishment picks thus far, there is a tenuous grumbling that problems could arise if their desire for inclusion isn’t soon addressed, Politico reported.

According to Politico, Biden’s relatively moderate choices have been begrudgingly accepted by progressives as they expectantly await a “win” for their wing of the party with a few highly-placed far-left appointments in the remaining slots in the cabinet.

“It could have been a lot worse,” progressive strategist Rebecca Katz told Politico. “He’s not picking any lefties. He’s just picking people who haven’t alienated the left, who are listening.”

Foreign policy and national security

Biden announced several Cabinet picks Tuesday that are largely centered on foreign policy and national security, virtually all of whom are veterans of past Democratic administrations and come from the center-left wing of the Democratic Party, the Washington Examiner reported.

Chief among them is Anthony Blinken, Biden’s pick to be secretary of state, a Jewish neoliberal who is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor with a pro-Israel outlook in the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, that choice has drawn consternation from vocal anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian members of the Democratic Party such as Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Other announced picks appear to be aimed at satisfying the demands for “diversity” rather than ideology from the progressive left, such as Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino to head the Department of Homeland Security, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the first Black woman to be United Nations Ambassador, and Avril Haines, the first woman to be nominated as Director of National Intelligence.

Alongside them are Jake Sullivan, one of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top advisors, as National Security Adviser, and former Secretary of State John Kerry as Biden’s “climate czar” — again, neoliberal centrists who aren’t quite far enough to the left to satisfy progressives but sufficiently left of center to forestall an outright revolt.

Trouble on the horizon

Biden’s team faced the task of attempting to unify the disparate wings of the party by placating far-left progressives while at the same time forming a cabinet of officials that actually has a chance at being confirmed by a likely Republican-controlled, or at least narrowly divided, Senate, according to The Hill.

Biden appears to have successfully navigated that tightrope for the moment, and some of his rumored future picks — such as former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary — seem likely to keep the tenuous balance going.

However, according to Business Insider, trouble is brewing on the progressive left due to a few of Biden’s potential picks for other positions, such as former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations — as Transportation secretary or U.S. Trade Representative.

The opposition to Emanuel on the left stems from his handling of the controversial 2014 police shooting of a Black teen named Laquan McDonald. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said his inclusion in the cabinet would be “shameful” while other leftists of her ilk have likewise expressed their disapproval that he is even being considered for any role whatsoever.

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