The Biden-Harris victory may have removed an old foe from the White House, but almost instantaneously the same victory has revealed the potential for a civil war within the Democratic party between the mainstream leadership of President-elect Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and the raving radical left faction of the party, led by the “squad.”
The first skirmish took place on Saturday, shortly after the major networks gave Biden the victory. The former Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, a long-time opponent of President Donald Trump and a supporter of the Democratic campaign in 2020, told CNN in response: “Now is the time for Democrats – and I believe Joe Biden will do this – to begin to listen to what the other half of the country has had to say. I think that the other half of the country, in many respects, has felt as though they have not been listened to. They feel stuck economically, and it’s going to be up to the Democrats to listen.”
Needless to say, the governor’s message was not accepted graciously in Minneapolis, Detroit, and the Bronx, home of squad Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Especially the part where Kasich warned: “The Democrats have to make it clear to the far-left that they almost cost him this election,” referring to Biden.
AOC was in no mood for the advice and tweeted: “John Kasich, who did not deliver Ohio to Dems, is saying folks like Ilhan Omar, who did deliver Minnesota, are the problem. Please don’t take these people seriously and go back to celebrating and building power.”
Omar, for her part, tweeted: “Just a friendly reminder: AOC isn’t the enemy or a threat, she is an asset to our party. When you allow the GOP to dictate who should be included in our ‘big tent’ party, we all lose. For God’s sake, the GOP has QAnon members in their ranks and won’t throw them under the bus.”
But Kasich was not wrong. Say what you will about the polls, over the summer, and in the early fall, their predictions of a Democratic tsunami, the much-touted Blue Wave, coincided with President Trump’s approval ratings. His approval was scarcely above the low 40s, his disapproval hovered around 52 points. But in the end, Trump was able to get close to 48% of the votes, while Biden had to settle for less than 51%.
A lot of it had to do with Trump’s super-human ability to barn-hop across America, riling up his voters in half a dozen events a day, every day. The other reason was middle America’s trepidation with the violence that spread through the cities. In other words, Kasich was saying, the radical left certainly cost Biden his landslide – and it could have cost him the whole package.
Despite the sage advice from a Republican friend, the Democrats cannot at this moment rein in their leftwing crazies – between a dozen- and 20-strong (out of 214). The reason is the January 5 Georgia elections. Two Senate seats are being contested in Georgia at the same time, and the Democrats must take both to control the Senate. Right now it’s 48 to 48, with 2 additional seats likely going to the Republicans. If both Georgia seats are flipped blue, the Senate will be dead even at 50-50, and VP-elect Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaker.
The fact is that cities like Atlanta and Savanna, which gave the state to Biden, could not be won without a historically high black turnout. And the Democrats cannot hope to take even one of those Senate seats without the black voters – which cannot possibly be done if they alienate the party’s radical left. In the future, Pelosi et al at the leadership might look for ways to break up the squad and rid themselves of this permanent threat. But not before January 5.
Kasich told CNN he thought Biden would be a moderate president. “The far left can push him as hard as they want,” he said, but “people in this country are basically center, center-right, center-left. They’re not far left and they’re also not far-right. We’ve got to hope the far right will act responsibly now that this election is over,” Kasich said.