Home Democratic Party Except for Rep. Bobby Scott, Every Member of Virginia’s U.S. House Delegation...

Except for Rep. Bobby Scott, Every Member of Virginia’s U.S. House Delegation Has Joined the “New Democrat Coalition”

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I just saw this news from yesterday:

This week, by a unanimous vote, the New Democrat Coalition was proud to induct 30 new Members-Elect to join the Coalition in the 116th Congress. These new Members-Elect bring an abundance of real-world experience and innovative ideas to the Coalition, and are dedicated to advancing the New Dem vision of keeping our economy competitive and our nation secure…

Members-Elected Inducted into the Coalition for the 116th Congress…

27. Elaine Luria (VA-02)

28. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)

29. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10)

So, of the three newly elected Democrats from Virginia, all three have joined the “New Democrat Caucus.” They join three incumbent Congressmen from Virginia – Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11; the group’s Whip), Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08), and Rep. Donald McEachin (VA-04) – as members of this group, leaving only one Virginia Democratic Congressperson – Bobby Scott (VA-03) – NOT a “New Democrat Caucus” member.

To some extent, I feel the same way about the “New Democrat Coalition” as I do about the “Blue Dogs” – it’s very annoying, absurd and unhelpful “framing” in many ways. For starters, as I wrote about the “Blue Dogs,” the supposed lack of Democrats reaching across the aisle has most certainly NOT been the problem, nor has excessive “partisanship” (whatever that means) on the Democratic side.  But MAYBE the “branding” could be helpful on the margins for a few Dems in “purple” districts? Or, on second thought, maybe it’s not helpful – or it’s even harmful – as the case of former Rep. Glenn Nye (VA-02) demonstrates?

I must say, looking at the New Democrat Coalition’s issues page, I’m not thrilled by some of what’s in there and some of what is NOT in there. For instance, here are a few words I don’t see at all on that page: “climate,” “global warming,” “environment” (other than “regulatory environment” and “right environment for innovation”), “guns,” “LGBT equality,” “voting rights,” “race,” “racism,” “abortion,” “reproductive freedom,” “income inequality,” etc. Very, very strange. In addition to what’s NOT in there – very telling, by the way – there’s a bunch of meaningless pablum and silly slogans, like “A Future That Works.” There’s also some stuff that I *do* see that bugs and/or baffles me, like:

  • “New Democrats believe that as the nature of work continues to change, we can no longer rely on outdated systems and institutions to prepare and protect our workers.” – “Outdated systems and institutions” like….what? The government?
  • “New Democrats support a bipartisan, long-term approach to address structural causes of our growing deficits and debt, including impact of the Republican tax bill and reforms to mandatory spending programs.” – I’m all for reining in the debt, but let’s be clear what’s driving it: overwhelmingly, reckless Republican tax cuts for the wealthy, the refusal by Republicans and some conservadems to move towards universal health care (e.g., “Medicare for All”) or even a robust public option (e.g., “Medicare X”) and to truly “bend the cost curve,” not to mention the trillions wasted on the idiotic war in Iraq
  • “Unfortunately, some regulations can impose obstacles to new businesses, running the risk of stifling growth and limiting entrepreneurial opportunities.” – Ugh, stop with the bashing of regulations, which are actually PROTECTIONS – of workers, of Americans’ health, of the environment, you name it. That’s just right-wing rhetoric, unworthy of anyone calling themselves a Democrat.

Last but not least, there’s some weird/stupid stuff, like “Comprehensive immigration reform has the potential to reduce the deficit by over $900 billion.” Perhaps they mean the DEBT, not the DEFICIT (which was around $800 billion, last I checked; so comprehensive immigration reform is going to MORE THAN wipe out the $900 billion “deficit,” which probably means “debt?”) – very different things that many (most?) people can’t for the life of them keep straight. This sloppiness is annoying.

Finally, I asked a few Democratic friends what they thought of the “New Democratic Coalition,” and got comments like the following:

  • “It is meaningless. They think they are progressive but business friendly. I think they have no definition. Don Beyer is in both the New Democrat Coalition and the Progressive Caucus, which shows what a mockery it is…They do nothing. Have meetings? Lunches?”
  • “I’m not a fan. I used to be. They just won’t accept the times we are in. I’d be fine with them 50 years ago. Now we have huge stratification in wealth and a crazy right-wing movement. And the ‘New Democrats’ just want to get along and pass slightly less bad policy. We destroyed the Blue Dogs. They are one step better. But they need to be next…So the GOP passes a hugely irresponsible tax cut, but now let’s work with them to only cut Social Security somewhat? Bullshit.”
  • It is a “we need to be adults”-type language, which puts the Democrats at disadvantage against the GOP…NDC-type language/approaches puts the ‘pain’ in terms of spending control, taxes on the D side and lets, in many ways, the GOP ‘get away’ with their criminal irresponsibility.”

So yeah, I’m not a fan, but mostly agree that this group is more a ridiculous anachronism (founded in 1997 “as a congressional affiliate of the avowedly ‘centrist’ Democratic Leadership Council, whose members, including former President Bill Clinton, call themselves ‘New Democrats.'”). As for why so many Virginia Dems are in this group, it’s kind of baffling, although I kinda/sorta see it in “purple” districts like VA-02 (Elaine Luria) and VA-07 (Abigail Spanberger, who also joined the “Blue Dogs”). As for VA-04, VA-08, VA-10 and VA-11? I don’t really get why any of them would see themselves as fitting in or benefiting politically from membership in this caucus…