As impeachment trial begins, Democrats try something new: Party unity

For now, at least, Democrats are huddling in harmony under their big tent.

After a 15-month primary contest that highlighted deep divides within the party, President Biden is enjoying an early honeymoon from the political vise of a progressive wing that spent months preparing to squeeze the new administration.

Democrats have remained resolute about pushing through Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan over near-unanimous dissent from Republicans, and they are determined to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol violence in the impeachment trial that started Tuesday afternoon.

Liberal standard-bearers like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are holding their fire. The progressive “Squad” in the House — Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies — have focused their rage on the Republicans who inspired the siege of the Capitol.

And activists who have built careers out of orchestrating public pressure campaigns have been disarmed by the open line to the White House they enjoy, and by the encouragement they receive from its highest levels — a signal that the administration is tending to the Democratic base in a way that wasn’t done during the Obama or Clinton years.

“President Biden understands that, like Roosevelt, he has entered office at a time of extraordinary crises and that he is prepared to think big and not small,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “There is an understanding that if we’re going to address the crises facing this country, we’re all in it together.”

Still, the moment of unity could be fragile: Sharp differences remain between Mr. Biden and his left flank. Battles are already brewing over a $15 per hour minimum wage and whether to eliminate the Senate filibuster.

Yet, the singular focus on the pandemic has exerted a unifying force on the party, allowing Mr. Biden to align the central promise of his campaign — a more effective government response — with the priorities of Democrats in battleground states, who say that voters expect Mr. Biden to deliver a competent vaccine distribution along with direct economic relief. Already, there is widespread agreement within the party that Democrats will be judged in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential contest by their handling of the twin crises.

“Needles and checks — that’s got to be the focus,” said Thomas Nelson, a Democrat running for the Senate in Wisconsin. “People in my county, we need those checks.”

Source: Read Full Article