WASHINGTON, D.C.–House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be in denial about the severely fractured state of the Democratic Party.
Asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl to grade the Democrats during the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s administration, Pelosi responded, “In terms of unity, 100 percent unified.”
Karl shot back asking her, “Two-thirds of the American people say the Democratic Party is out of touch … Isn’t the Democratic Party a bit of a mess right now?” Pelosi responded, “No, it isn’t.”
However, some recent examples in the media point to just how divided the Democrats are.
Recently appointed Democratic National Committee Vice Chairman Keith Ellison blamed former President Barack Obama last month for his party’s 2016 losses and not being a “better party leader.” According to The Hill, while speaking at an event at the University of Minnesota, Ellison said, “Look I’m a great fan of President Obama … But Barack Obama could have been a better party leader, and I think the fact that he wasn’t put his legacy in jeopardy.”
The left’s progressive darling, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), also criticized Obama’s “giant bling spots” in his communication with “most Americans.”
“I think President Obama, like many others in both parties, talk about a set of big national statistics that look shiny and great but increasingly have giant blind spots,” Warren told the Guardian Monday. “That GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans.”
Warren also said she was “troubled” that Obama received $400,000 to address a Wall Street conference on health care this fall.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a prime example of the division between the Democratic Party’s Establishment and progressive wings, also blasted Obama about his “distasteful” Wall Street speech. Speaking with CNN last month, Sanders said Obama’s decision to take that opportunity was “not a good idea,” and that he was “sorry President Obama made that choice … I just think it is distasteful — not a good idea that he did that.”
However, the party’s weakness becomes most evident when examining the tension between DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Sanders.
Just this week, the DNC snubbed Sanders and his supporters, arguing that the party did not owe them a “fair” 2016 primary process. The Washington Examiner reported, “DNC lawyers argue that they don’t owe anyone a fair process, and that the rules in their charter are basically not binding in court. In fact, if they wanted, DNC attorney Bruce Spiva argued, they could choose their nominee in a smoke-filled back room and it still wouldn’t be legally actionable.”
DNC Chair Tom Perez has also contributed to the party’s divisiveness by making pro-life Democrats feel unwelcome in the party. In a statement last month, Perez said, “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” adding that “every candidate who runs as a Democrat should” share the “Democratic Party’s position on women’s fundamental rights.”
In response, the Nebraska Democratic Party’s Chair Jane Kleeb called Perez’s comments “deplorable.” According to The Atlantic, Kleeb said, “Tom Perez put every Democrat who is leading our party at the nationwide and statewide level in a very difficult position” by issuing a statement “that is now being interpreted as him saying he does not accept pro-life Democrats in the party.”
As for Pelosi, members of her own party have called her “out of touch” with her Democratic base.
In a 2016 interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, Pelosi said, “I don’t think people want a new direction.”
Last November, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) criticized Pelosi and suggested her proposals to empower junior members of Congress — by making certain positions available only to lawmakers who have served fewer than three or four terms, while she and Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) remain in their current posts — could decrease the Congressional Black Caucus’s power while seemingly increasing her own.
“The reality is that, from the perspective of the CBC, some changes may be beneficial while others may have severe unintended consequences that could diminish our power as a caucus within the Democratic Caucus,” Richmond wrote.