Speed Reads

what went wrong

Progressives blame 'divide-and-conquer racism' for Democrats' House losses

Progressive House Democrats are shifting the blame for last week's dismal House showing.

As it became clear Democrats wouldn't expand their majority in the House this year, moderate Democrats began blaming their party's left wing, including in a testy post-election caucus call where Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) profanely decried any mention of "socialism" within the party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) quickly told the party to stop "pointing fingers," and on Tuesday, a memo began circulating among progressive representatives that tried to break down just went wrong.

While the memo did reflect Ocasio-Cortez's plea to stop "placing blame" before a campaign post-mortem was conducted, it did lay out progressive strategies to drive future House gains. Instead of playing into President Trump's "racist appeals against immigrants and Black Lives Matter," Democrats should "take on the Republican party's divide-and-conquer racism head-on," the memo says. Democrats should "invest in organizing the base," "connect economic justice to racial justice," and "drive an economic message that connects with all working people" as well, the memo details. As Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) put it, Democrats need to "really respect every single voice," namely those of marginalized people, instead of "silencing" them like Spanberger suggested.

Part of that economic message is clear in the suggested Biden Cabinet picks the progressive Justice Democrats and Sunrise Movement unveiled Wednesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as Labor Secretary and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as Treasury Secretary top their list. Tlaib would be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) would be secretary of state, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would be attorney general, among their other choices.

Republicans could retain control of the Senate if Georgia's runoffs go their way, which would jeopardize hopes of approving progressive nominees. Biden said Tuesday he wouldn't let the alignment of the Senate affect his choices, and that he may announce some picks by Thanksgiving.