Pelosi has a choice between cooperation and confrontation - GulfToday

Pelosi has a choice between cooperation and confrontation

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

David Winston, Tribune News Service

On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, Rahm Emanuel, one of the smartest strategists in the Democratic Party, had this to say of his party’s presidential hopefuls: “The person that appreciates, understands, and puts themselves most comfortably, based on their own history, where the voters have lived their lives, that’s going to be the candidate that shines over ... the long term.”

He then went on to criticize the majority of the Democratic presidential candidates who have been enthusiastically supporting “Medicare for All,” saying, “We’re going to eliminate 150 million people’s health care, and we’re going to provide health care for people that have just come over the border.” Pointing out that Democrats currently enjoy a huge lead on the health care issue, Emanuel said the support for what amounts to the end of private health care as we know it was “reckless.”

It was a perfect “kill the messenger” moment as the progressive Twittersphere — which is driving the Democratic primary process, likely off a cliff — exploded, lobbing the kind of vitriol at President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff usually reserved for President Donald Trump and Republicans. The harsh reaction to Emanuel and his apparently unsanctioned comments, I suspect, wasn’t lost on Hill Democratic leaders, especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But like Emanuel, Pelosi operates in the real world, which makes her challenge this fall as Congress returns ever more difficult.

She’s not alone in that challenge. In truth, both parties are trying to navigate some rough political waters in an anti-Trump media environment that is clearly enthralled by the Democratic presidential candidates’ controversial and radical proposals.

The media’s focus on the left-wing Democratic presidential field, their proposals and positions on everything from Medicare for All to open borders to climate change ought to be a plus for Trump and Republicans. But the challenge for the president and his allies on the Hill in the next couple of months is to get the political narrative back on an economy that is still delivering record employment and wage gains.

This gives Republicans a strategic advantage because, despite the media’s fascination with progressive issues, the economy/jobs along with health care remain the top concerns for voters outside the two parties’ bases.

As the Democratic presidential candidates have shifted to the extreme left, the debate on how to solve the nation’s problems has centered on how to move resources and services into the federal government rather than on proposals to increase jobs and wages or pay for their big-government plans. Whether it’s the Green New Deal or Medicare for All, open borders or college debt forgiveness, Democratic presidential candidates are running a primary campaign that puts a general election victory next year at risk. Emanuel is right.

So as Congress reconvenes, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have to ask themselves some critical questions. Is it in the Democratic Party’s interest to cooperate with Republicans on a few key issues and in doing so, create a positive record to run on next year? Or is it strategically more advantageous to continue their policy of partisan confrontation and even impeachment, at the expense of actual legislative progress on issues that matter to voters?

It comes down to two fundamental choices for Democratic leaders on the Hill. They can choose confrontation by backing their presidential candidates’ “reckless” proposals and pit progressives against their party’s more centrist members and candidates. Or they can choose bipartisan cooperation by rejecting impeachment and the progressives’ agenda and deciding to work with Republicans to get something done on issues like appropriations, health care and trade.

Confrontation, which has become the Democrats’ de facto political operating system on the Hill and in the presidential primaries, excites their increasingly doctrinaire base; but it turns off independents. Cooperation or confrontation: a clear choice with very different outcomes for the country.

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