By: Nathaniel Ballantyne
Joe Biden was elected because he was a moderate. During the primary, Democrat voters specifically rejected progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, whose brand of politics is out of the mainstream. Americans do not want to overthrow their government system. They want to make the government work for most of them.
With nearly 90 million votes, Joe Biden and the democrat party have built up some political goodwill to help them during the midterm election of 2022. But the left-wing of the party wasted no time in attacking Biden’s early White House appointments.
“I think we are at a fork in the road,” said one Democratic operative in close touch with the Biden campaign. “They can either continue to just beat the drums on the streets, or they can start to leverage the relationship they have. It’s up to them which strategy they adopt.”
The left wing’s publicly aggressive tactics could lead Biden to just tune them out altogether. “If all you do is escalate, then people eventually think that you’re enemies and not friends, and they’re like: ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists,'” said JESS MORALES ROCKETTO, a Democratic strategist who supports many of the left wing’s goals.
The chill in the relationship comes after a number of progressive groups and politicians made clear this week that there would not be any honeymoon period for the new Democratic administration.
The climate-focused group Sunrise Movement accused Biden this week of “betrayal” for hiring longtime ally Rep. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-La.) because the fossil fuel industry has been a longtime backer. Justice Democrats bashed Biden for his “corporate-friendly” appointments, including his new senior counselor STEVE RICCHETTI. Opposition research is flying around on more potential appointments, including another close Biden aide, BRUCE REED.
Justice Democrats’ spokesperson WALEED SHAHID was unapologetic: “If you’re still going to consider giving a top position to deficit hawks like Bruce Reed, who led the Bowles-Simpson commission to have Democrats work with Republicans to cut Social Security, you have to be expecting push back from your own party,” he said in a text message. Sunrise declined to comment.
Some in the Biden camp believe they demonstrated their desire to have the left at the table in the policy working groups established after the primary along with appointing many progressives to the transition’s agency review teams (a step which has angered some in the business community).
Firing arrows now may get headlines, but it is also the fastest way to lose influence with Biden’s inner circle, which values bridge-builders, some say. Being bombastic and colorful might be a way to wield power in President DONALD TRUMP’s Washington, they argue, but it likely won’t be in Biden. So the Democratic Party’s left-wing can play ball and be nice or be out of the game altogether. What is it going to be?