In a historic move after the first formal State of the Union speech by President Joe Biden, not only did a Republican rebuttal follow Biden’s speech, but Progressive Democrat and noted member of “The Squad” Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) followed the Republican rebuttal by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
Tlaib’s rebuttal was criticized not only by Republicans but also members of the Democratic Party. One colleague referred to Tlaib’s rebuttal of a rebuttal as “keying one’s own car.” The Progressive rebuttal of President Biden’s speech – Biden is considered more of a moderate Democrat, historically – not only strays from protocol, but it also seen as a potential sign of splitting within the Democratic Party.
Tlaib isn’t the only Progressive Democrat who spoke out in rebuttal of President Biden’s State of the Union Address talking points. Biden took on one issue that Republicans and moderate Democrats have seen as a major problem – defunding the police. Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO) tweeted out later regarding statements President Biden made in making sure that police departments are funded and that proper training is provided for law enforcement.
Cori Bush tweeted: “. . . Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech. All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings. Defund the police. Invest in our communities.”
Infighting among Democrats appears to be splitting the party into multiple factions, and the divisions seem very wide – unless, of course, the Democratic Party is grouping together to vote on certain pieces of legislation or criticize members of the opposing party.
A huge fissure in the Democratic Party came to light last year when moderate Democrats Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) voted against the Build Back Better bill and in early January 2022 when the pair effectively killed voting rights legislation.
Prior to the Build Back Better vote, Senator Sinema had been relentlessly harassed as she traversed Capital Hill. She was even followed into a restroom by a protestor who filmed the confrontation. About a week later, protestors showed up at a wedding which Sinema was officiating. Although incidents around Joe Manchin weren’t as reported as those around Sinema, sources said that Joe Manchin was repeatedly harassed at a houseboat where he lives during Congressional sessions.
Progressives in the House and Senate have all but ostracized Manchin and Sinema, but the pair refuse to give an inch.
Some political experts say there are actually six smaller factions in the Democratic Party. One group is considered Super Progressives – ultra liberal on matters of economic policy and often “anti-establishment.” Members of the Squad – Tlaib, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are all considered Super Progressives.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are both considered “very progressive,” particularly where the economy is concerned. These individuals are considered to be “very liberal” on identity issues in addition to the economy.
Another faction is the “Progressive New Guard.” These individuals are very liberal, but they are also concerned with “electability” issues. They would promote someone like former President Barack Obama, and they don’t mind appealing to centrist Democrats.
The Progressive Old Guard would be individuals like those leading the House and the Senate at present – Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They embrace progressive ideas, but they are just a step or two removed from a more moderate Democrat. They are more apt to work across the aisle than Super Progressives or Very Progressive individuals.
Moderates and conservative Democrats are those that tend to garner a larger following from everyday Americans. They have and are much more willing to work across the aisle, even more so than their Progressive Old Guard counterparts. Joe Manchin is very much an example of this, and many have described Manchin as more of a modern Republican than a Democrat.
Can the Democratic Party survive with these fissures? Will Joe Biden begin to pull back from progressive ideas, such as the Green New Deal, in order to pull oil sales away from Russia – helping Ukrainians and Americans all at once? Has the Biden Administration realized that their poll numbers are dropping due to the push for more progressive legislation? It’s certain that members of the Squad will continue to push for this legislation, and they will remain vocal regarding the moderates in their party.