Jamie Raskin has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for less than a week, but he isn’t joining a newly energized and resurgent Democratic caucus like he hoped. Instead, he’ll be a freshman member of a party stuck in the political wilderness.More.
“For me, it’s a bit of a cold shower,” said Raskin, a former Democratic leader in the Maryland state legislature. “I had hoped I would be part of a big blue wave overtaking Washington and giving us the opportunity to make progress on many fronts in national politics.”
After a disappointing election where Democrats fell short, Raskin and the 193 other House Democrats he joins in Congress’s new session are trying to revitalize their demoralized base. They also want to win back Rust Belt voters who bolted for Donald Trump.
It’s a tough task. They serve in a chamber where rules and traditions give the minority party virtually no ability to get measures on the floor or even amend what the governing party offers.
And it could be a while before they find their footing. Many in the party are desperate to reinvent Democrats’ image, but it might not help that their top two House leaders have been in place for more than a decade.
Raskin says one place to start is tackling the loss of jobs in a shrinking manufacturing sector. But he says the party’s traditional responses, like a minimum wage boost or protecting entitlement programs from cuts, aren’t sufficient any more.
‘Message Will Follow’
“If we get the substance right, the message will follow along,” he said. “The problem that we are having with displaced working-class whites across America is a problem that neither party has a solution to. It’s not just a question of trade, it’s more an issue of automation and mechanization which are replacing millions of workers in America.”
Peter Welch of Vermont, who as a chief deputy whip helps Democratic leaders count votes, says that they should start by simply sticking together. Democrats picked up a mere six House seats in the elections, leaving Republicans to govern with a 23-seat margin.
Welch is counting on the Republicans to be more fractured than his party -- and he’s hoping that united Democrats can exploit Trump’s splits with some conservatives on infrastructure spending, trade and other matters.
The House’s most conservative lawmakers “won’t provide their votes unless they get their way,” said Welch, who was first elected in 2007 when Democrats took House control from Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan “has to decide whether he will accede to their demands or find reasonable Democrats who are willing to work on bills,” the Vermont lawmaker said.
That still leaves Democrats trying to figure out how to rebuild their own image.
Just-retired Representative Steve Israel of New York, who oversaw campaign strategy and fundraising for House Democrats in 2012 and 2014, says his colleagues would be best off focusing on the 2018 midterm elections. Historically, the party out of power picks up seats in non-presidential election years, and he says Democrats have a chance to retake the House -- although the electoral map suggests that’s a real long shot.
Israel said Trump’s win stemmed from a convergence of factors including economic insecurity, the alienation of middle-class voters and the spread of terrorism...
Congressman Raskin's featured at that hilarious video above. You gotta give it up for Joe Biden sometimes. He was excellent during the count of the Electoral College on Thursday. He kept banging his gavel on the House Democrats, making them look like preschoolers.
That's gold, man. Pure gold lol.