Weekly The Generation, Year 1, Issue 17
December 26, 2023
A looming clash between the centre and left of the Democratic party could unseat members of the “the Squad” of progressives and hand a gift to Donald Trump’s Republicans in the 2024 elections. The war in Gaza has divided Democrats like no other issue and is likely to play a key role in party primaries that decide which candidates run for the House of Representatives.
The left have won some notable victories during Joe Biden’s presidency but continue to push him on issues such as climate, immigration, racial justice and Gaza, where many are dismayed by his unwavering support for Israel. On 7 October Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took about 240 hostage; Israel has since bombed and invaded Gaza, killing about 20,000 people.
Ideological tensions with moderates are set to spill into the open during a primary season that kicks off on 5 March with races in Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas.
Bowman faces a stiff challenge from George Latimer, a Westchester county executive who is an ardent supporter of Israel and could receive a financial boost from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Bush has competition from Wesley Bell, a county prosecutor who described Bush’s initial response to the Hamas attack as not “appropriate”.
Omar will be up against Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis city council member who came within two percentage points of her in a primary last year. The lawyer Sarah Gad and the air force veteran Tim Peterson have also filed to run against Omar in the primary.
Centrists smell an opportunity to put progressives on the back foot over their voting records, not just on Israel but a host of issues.
Matt Bennett, a co-founder and the executive vice-president for public affairs at Third Way, said: “The Squad for the most part has been problematic for Democrats generally because their voices are outsized and very loud and they have come to define what it means to be a Democrat in swing districts, and that can be very difficult.
This week the DMFI Pac published its first round of endorsements for the 2024 election cycle, including 81 incumbent members of Congress.
The group added that, in the 2021-22 election cycle, DMFI Pac-endorsed candidates won more than 80% of their races, helping bring 21 new “pro-Israel Democrats” to Congress.
The House primary stakes have been raised by 23 Democrats and 12 Republicans retiring, seeking other office or getting expelled, leaving a record number of open seats up for grabs. As the war continues and the death toll mounts, the issue becomes ever more rancorous.
The argument over Gaza appears to have been shifting in progressives’ direction. In a recent opinion poll for the Wall Street Journal, 24% of Democrats said they were more sympathetic to the Palestinians, 17% sided with the Israelis and 48% said they sympathise with both equally.
Biden, who often hovers in the ideological middle of the Democratic party, has gradually yielded to pressure to urge Israeli restraint and has warned that the country is losing international support because of “indiscriminate bombing”. But he has stopped short of calling for a permanent ceasefire.
Norman Solomon, the national director of RootsAction and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, said via email: “Scapegoating progressives is inevitable. That’s what corporate centrist Democrats and their allies routinely do. But primaries merely set the stage for the main event, which will be the showdown between the two parties for Congress and the White House.
Source: The Guardian