Jessica Tarlov: Ocasio-Cortez and 3 other far-left Dems hurt party and help Trump when they attack other Dems

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is justifiably upset by the public attention focused on the feud between her and “the Squad” – the nickname for far-left Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Pelosi is the most powerful woman in the U.S. government and knows what it takes to do her job. She’s a brilliant legislative tactician who can count votes, pass bills, stand firm in negotiations with President Trump and other adversaries, and manage a diverse caucus.

The House speaker has strong progressive credentials, representing a liberal district in San Francisco. But she is also a realist – a practical politician who understands that the success of lawmakers is measured by the laws they manage to enact, not by how many retweets they get when they use social media to air their complaints, or by how much news coverage they get.

HOUSE DEM BLASTS ‘JUVENILE’ OCASIO-CORTEZ, CHIEF OF STAFF: ‘IGNORANCE IS BEYOND BELIEF’

While she knows how to lead the House majority, Pelosi also knows how to lead Democrats with as much effectiveness as possible in the minority – a reality that members of the Squad have yet to experience (and hopefully never will).

Pelosi is determined not to let Democrats become the minority party again in the House on her watch. She understands that if Democrats embrace the radical positions supported by the Squad their candidates will have a hard time winning seats in swing districts

Pelosi was right to hold a closed-door meeting of House Democrats Wednesday and ask them to bring their grievances directly to her, rather than going on the attack against their colleagues on social media. That’s just common sense.

As the old saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall.” Pelosi understands that if House Democrats form a circular firing squad to attack each other in public they will lose their effectiveness, lower their chances of keeping majority control of the House after the 2020 elections, and make President Trump very happy.

The more time and energy House Democrats spend attacking each other, the less able they will be to attack President Trump and other Republicans and the harmful policies backed by the GOP.

The most laughable part of Pelosi’s squabble with the Squad is the claim by Squad members that Pelosi is singling them out for criticism because they are women of color.

Pelosi has fought hard for her entire career for the empowerment of women, and is a direct beneficiary of her success in this fight. As the first female House speaker in American history, she has worked tirelessly to help more women win House seats, dramatically increasing their representation from just a few years ago. And she wants to increase female representation even more.

House Democrats also have people of color in the party’s highest positions, including Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California. There are also many other people of color serving as committee chairs, subcommittee chairs and in other leadership roles.

No one has been a stronger advocate for both racial and gender diversity in the House than Pelosi.

The most laughable part of Pelosi’s squabble with the Squad is the claim by Squad members that Pelosi is singling them out for criticism because they are women of color.

We shouldn’t lose sight of what the Democratic internal fighting is really about.

The fight comes down to contrasting views on how to effect meaningful change. Incrementalism versus revolution has been the fundamental battle in the Democratic Party since self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., entered the primary to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination back in 2015.

Sanders’ current campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination mirrors his unsuccessful battle for the 2016 nomination.

Repeated refrains include: we can’t settle for anything less than “Medicare-for-all,” abolishing private health insurance, the Green New Deal and a top rate of marginal taxation rate nearing 80 percent for wealthy Americans.

Sanders regularly calls for a revolution. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., another presidential contender, is also opposed to incremental change and has proposed bold ideas similar to those advocated by Sanders.

These are also the type of proposals members of the Squad favor. It is why the four congresswomen oppose many of the mainstream ideas Democrats ran on – and won on – in 2018. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also been promoting mainstream ideas in his presidential bid this year.

How bad in the intra-party fighting about Democrats getting? Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, tweeted: “Instead of ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal,’ let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Caucus the ‘New Southern Democrats.’ They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”

This tweet is not only insulting but terribly inaccurate, and quite properly prompted Pelosi to caution House Democratic not to go to war against each other on Twitter.

The tweet also prompted Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who is African-American, to unload on Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti, reportedly calling them “juvenile” and noting: “You’re getting pushback so you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable.”

Demonizing those who favor incremental change is the real issue at play in Chakrabarti’s tweet. No one in their right mind believes today’s moderate Democrats are racists like the Southern Democrats of many decades ago.

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I’d be the first to say that politics can be frustrating. But Democrats have a choice: win slowly by following the path of Pelosi and other realists, or lose quickly by following the radical path of the Squad, allowing Republicans to claim that Democrats are really socialist revolutionaries who are out to destroy our country.

Ridiculous as it is, Republicans are already trying to make this claim. Democrats shouldn’t help them.

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