Washington, DC – Democrats on Capitol Hill are fighting with each other over whether to emphasize defunding the police and how much support to show Black Lives Matter’s agenda after the progressive “Squad” gained members while the party lost congressional seats.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), U.S. Representative Conor Lamb (D-Pennsylvania), and U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia spoke out on a Democratic Caucus conference call two days after the election and blamed progressives for seats that were lost, The Washington Post reported.
Moderate Democrats said calls for socialism and “defunding the police” were responsible for scaring away voters in states like Florida.
Spanberger, who later said she had thought the virtual meeting was off-the-record, told her colleagues on the call that the Democratic Party “need to not ever use the term ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again… We lost good members because of that,” WTVR reported.
The congresswoman from Virginia also claimed that Democrats using the phrase “defunding the police” nearly cost her the race.
But calls for a return to the middle and a bipartisan effort with Republicans were met with derision by the far-left members of the Squad led by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).
Justice Democrats, a far-left group aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, signed a memo with four other progressive groups on Tuesday that lambasted Democrats who had pointed the finger at the Squad’s initiatives, FOX News reported.
“Republican attacks levied at Democrats this cycle based on terms like ‘defund the police’ or ‘socialism’ have become scapegoats for Representatives like Abigail Spanberger, Conor Lamb, and other senior Democrats,” the memo read. “Not a single Democrat — progressive or otherwise — argued that Democrats should run primarily on these themes. Moreover, these attacks will never go away, nor will demands for reform from social movements.”
“The attacks are designed to stoke racial resentment, which is core to the GOP’s election strategy. Our party should not feed into it,” the memo read.
Ocasio-Cortez has also said she has no interest in achieving a compromise and said it was time to “take our gloves off with Republicans,” Politico reported.
U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) advocated on the call for more defunding of police and increased support for Black Lives Matter and tried to shame her party colleagues who weren’t on board with her plan, Politico reported.
“We’re not going to be successful if we’re silencing districts like mine,” Tlaib said again after the call. “Me not being able to speak on behalf of many of my neighbors right now, many of which are black neighbors, means me being silenced. I can’t be silent.”
The freshman congresswoman who was just re-elected represents one of the poorest voting districts in the United States, according to Politico.
She claimed Democrats were more willing to work with Republicans than minority constituents.
“We are not interested in unity that asks people to sacrifice their freedom and their rights any longer,” Tlaib said. “And if we truly want to unify our country, we have to really respect every single voice. We say that so willingly when we talk about Trump supporters, but we don’t say that willingly for my Black and brown neighbors and from LGBTQ neighbors or marginalized people.”
The coalition of left-wing activist groups that includes Black Lives Matter has called for the abolition of law enforcement and correctional facilities, FOX News reported.
“We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives,” the Movement for Black Lives’ website said.