Time for Reid and Pelosi to Go
by Deacon Blues
Despite pleas from Democratic leaders to not act unilaterally on immigration until at least after an omnibus spending bill can be passed in the lame-duck congressional session, and from Republicans who've been warning him not to forego opportunities for collaboration with the new Congress, the White House is letting it slip out today that Obama will act next week by way of executive order to shield up to five million immigrants from deportation.
This happens on the same day that the Senate Democratic caucus re-elected Harry Reid to be their leader, but not without opposition from centrist Democrats who questioned Reid's strategy to prevent exposing purple and red-state 2014 incumbents to risky votes in the current session. The upside is that Elizabeth Warren and other women Democratic senators have now ascended in the Democratic caucus, but the downside is that at a time when the Democratic brand and public support for Democratic leadership has cratered, are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi the answer?
It should be clear by now to both Reid and Pelosi that Obama is going his own way these last two years, and will do politically stupid things out of self-interest without regard for things that legislative Democrats need to do for restoring the public's confidence that the party can govern. The action on immigration only confirms that Obama only wants to draw bright lines against the GOP and incite them, without any interest in getting things done. That's fine if you only care about yourself, but Obama is also responsible for what happens to the party as a whole, yet he seemingly has turned off both Reid and Pelosi and assumes he can operate now without them.
I would argue that both Reid and Pelosi have outlived any usefulness and in fact are not what the national party needs anymore. Both the House and Senate Democratic caucus should be sending signals that they will now go it alone from the White House out of self interest, and the first sign of that should be that both Reid and Pelosi face serious defections to more marketable alternatives who can tell the White House "don't assume our support anymore". Both caucuses need to chart their own courses and redevelop economic narratives based on the party's core principles for 2016, while showing voters that to the degree Repbublicans come over towards the Democrats a little, they may find willing partners separate from what the White House wants. This would actually encourage some in the GOP to do so, as they would lunge at any opportunity to poke the president in the eye.
I've reached the point where I no longer care if something harms the president politically anymore, all I care about is the party's ability to reclaim its credibility with the electorate and demonstrate that a rush to the GOP is dangerous. Democrats cannot do that anymore if they are tethered to this president because the public has turned him off, just as they have turned off Reid and Pelosi. Both caucuses need to show independence from the White House, not to be GOP-lite, but to credibly offer a Democratic alternative with new faces that will not be automatically dismissed as "same old, same old."