The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recently stated that it will not work with nor support any candidates running in a primary against any Democratic incumbent. The committee stated that this change in policy is supposed to be used to protect the majority that the party gained in the recent midterm election, where Democrats flipped a whopping 40 seats.
From the get-go, this change in policy is quite ironic, as this is supposed to be the Democratic Party. I don’t find it democratic to stunt discussion in choosing a candidate. I believe this policy stunts progress and protects Democrats who desperately should be challenged. Just because there’s a (D) next to one’s name doesn’t automatically mean they are good or respectable. When incumbents are not guiding policy as we see fit, we should vote them out. I argue that many Democratic politicians are in a position where we should do this. We should not accept tradition for tradition’s sake; we should advance our political systems and representatives when they are governing insufficiently.
First, how do we even gauge the political makeup of Congress? The Overton window, or the window of what is respectable in public discourse, is an intuitive way of observing the politics of the body. It is also skewed and in dire need of fixing. Take the leadership of the two major parties of the last Congress as an example: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer of the Democratic Party and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell of the Republican Party. While McConnell and Ryan were arguing for massive tax cuts and various conservative legislation, what were Pelosi and Schumer in favor of? In my opinion, not much. Democrats acted as obstructionists, but were not advancing any progressive legislation for when they would take back Congress. Various mainstream Democratic proposals include things such as ‘Medicare for All,’ tuition-free four-year public universities, legalization of marijuana and so on. However, Pelosi and Schumer do not appear to be in favor of these.
Why is the Democratic party just the ‘Not Trump’ or ‘Not Republican’ Party? It should be pushing progressive legislation and dragging the Overton window back to something more reasonable. Democratic leadership shouldn’t be in favor of just the Affordable Care Act, but also of single-payer health care insurance. Not just in favor of condemning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but pushing to end our alliance with Saudi Arabia. Not just in favor of minor campaign finance reform, but in favor of the Glass-Steagall Act and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. These are the kinds of bold policies that Democratic leadership must accept to pull the Overton window back to the left. We can’t be merely choosing between large tax breaks or small tax breaks, starting more wars or continuing current wars.
In response to this, the DCCC’s decision is to blacklist any groups that dare question someone such as Henry Cuellar in the House or Joe Manchin in the Senate. Cuellar and Manchin voted with Trump 56.9 percent and 58.5 percent, respectively, in the previous Congress. And while this is going on, the DCCC clutches its pearls and declares, ‘How dare anyone question these respectable Democrats? We must unify!’ I argue we must unify around progressive and popular legislation and candidates.
All of this relates back to electioneering. The DCCC’s decision to not back any challengers is a horrible idea. Joe Crowley, who was a central establishment figure in Washington, was unseated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who, agree with her or not, is pulling that Overton window to the left by discussing a Green New Deal among other policies. This kind of reform of the party is necessary, because leadership does not represent the Democratic viewers. It’s our job as voters to make leadership listen to us by electing politicians who will represent our views.
Seth Gully is a freshman triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, economics and French.