It was somewhat encouraging that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer declined to be humiliated once again in a crass, demeaning public display by Donald Trump, but it still fell short of what needs to happen if Democrats are going to be successful in the 2018 elections.
On Tuesday, Pelosi and Schumer declined to attend a meeting with Trump and House majority leader Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to discuss yet another potential government shutdown because of the malfeasance and utter depravity of Republicans.
Trump and the Republican leadership are incapable of negotiation and compromise, and such a meeting would just be theater and a waste of time for everyone, except the breathless mainstream media, which would report some analytic nonsense about it that would be inoperative by the time it was aired or published. The talking heads on cable television would then weigh in with more static even as everyone moved on to the topic of Trump’s next grotesque act.
So, as it goes these days, the chain of events started with a tweet by the liar-in-chief of the United States of America.
Meeting with “Chuck and Nancy” today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2017
Pelosi and Schumer, against expectations, then actually responded to Trump’s bullying and stood up against a Trump tirade. Finally finding a modicum of basic common sense as leaders of a party supposedly opposed to a racist despot and calculated authoritarian threatening our democracy, Pelosi and Schumer decided for the first time since his presidency not to become Trump’s rubes and issued their own statement.
Schumer and Pelosi issue statement on congressional leaders' meeting with Trump:
"Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon. We don’t have any time to waste…" pic.twitter.com/oEVqRv73Hs
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) November 28, 2017
In my view, the statement fell short, but it was at least a start, perhaps, maybe, insert qualification here, showing the current Democratic Party national leadership might actually have some fight in them. Maybe not.
Here’s why the statement fell short. While Trump’s statement attacks with his typical specific mantra and lies playing to his base—the flood of immigrants, weak on crime, raising taxes—Pelosi and Schumer opt for more generalized nuance and thereby fail to rally or ignite the millions of Americans opposed to the current corrupt presidential regime.
Pelosi’s and Schumer’s statement does make the point that they won’t attend the “show” meeting with Trump. So far, so good. Yes, it would be at the very least just a show. They were played relatively recently as rubes by Trump when they met with him in another show about the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program. This meeting dealing with a government shutdown would, of course, be another Trump fraud. But by the end of the statement, Pelosi and Schumer make sure they’ve angered or disappointed or numbed the vast majority of active Democrats in this country by reverting to their lapdog status in Congress.
”We look forward,” the statement ends, “to continuing to work in good faith, as we have been the last month, with our Republican colleagues, to do just that.”
Why in the world should the Democratic leadership in Congress work in “good faith” with the Republicans, who do not work and will never work in “good faith” with the Democrats or anyone else, except oligarchs and their surrogates.
The failure of Pelosi and Schumer to see Trump and Republicans as enemies that deserve a full and relentless opposition continues to amaze many of us on the left. The phrase “we look forward to continue to work in good faith” is a generic, politico-speak line that should make anyone on the left cringe in horror at its blandness and a lack of commitment to specific initiatives.
What about a sentence like this to end the statement: “As Democrats, no matter what the Republican majority decides, we’re going to continue to work to improve the lives of ordinary Americans by proposing programs giving them free access to medical care, higher wages, strengthened Social Security and Medicare systems, affordable college tuition and student debt forgiveness.”
That’s never going to happen because Pelosi and Schumer don’t stand for anything, the primary reason they should resign their leadership positions. Yet at least the Democratic Party wasn’t humiliated again by Trump, which, frankly, might be the most we can hope for under the party’s current leadership.