Democratic party leadership continue struggling to present a coherent identity even as they begin ramping up efforts to take back the House in 2018.
The party has struggled to unite its moderate and progressive wings — a split that was evident throughout the Democratic presidential primary last year.
While moderate Democrats in Congress are desperately urging the party to focus on economic messaging, progressive factions on the left are demanding Democrats double-down on identity politics and progressive purity tests. Party leaders have struggled to maintain control over the party as its different factions race down different paths.
Left-wing activists ratcheted up the pressure on Democratic leadership this week after Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said the party would support Democratic House candidates even if they are pro-life. Democrats, Lujan said, should prioritize winning House seats over ideological purity tests.
The activist left disagrees.
“This is completely unacceptable. If Democrats want to win in 2018 and beyond, they need to stand up strongly for women’s rights,” left-wing group Democracy for America told supporters in an email on Wednesday. “They have to address economic inequity head on — and abortion rights are inextricably tied to the fight against economic and racial inequity, full stop.”
Pro-abortion activists, led by NARAL Pro-Choice America, similarly denounced the Democratic party over Lujan’s comments. (RELATED: ‘Betrayal’ — Left-Wingers Furious With Democrats’ Support For Pro-Life Candidates)
Another activist group, Democracy Spring, has attacked Democratic leadership for not moving far enough to the left before 2018. An email to supporters said that “while establishment Democrats have largely refused to face their own obvious failures, the progressive grassroots movements which form the base of the party are ready to surge ahead.”
“Party leaders can either catch up or be left behind,” the email said.
Democracy Spring is demanding all Democratic House candidates commit to a slate of far-left political positions, including a $15 federal minimum wage and free college for all — the exact kind of purity tests Lujan believes will make it harder for Democrats to win back the House.
“After eight years of feeble leadership under President Obama, Americans finally have a president leading them towards success – with less regulation, more economic stability, and increased national security,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Chase Jennings.
“Meanwhile, the Democratic Party by their own admission, are leaderless, unable to unify their own Party or craft a message,” he said. “While Democrats spend time fighting among themselves, Republicans continue to see overwhelming support as our Party breaks fundraising records, invests in a robust data and ground game operation and remains laser focused on winning elections and fighting for all Americans.”
The Democratic National Committee did not respond to The Daily Caller’s interview request for this story.
Democratic party leaders — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in particular — have been hamstrung by low favorability ratings in their efforts to guide the party towards a common goal.
A Rasmussen poll in late June found that 58 percent of likely Democratic voters say the party needs new leadership. (RELATED: More Bad News For Pelosi: 58 Percent Of Dems Say Party Needs New Leadership)
Pelosi’s unpopularity has left her vulnerable to attacks from the same House Democrats who are ostensibly following her leadership.
Democratic candidates are wary of associating themselves with Pelosi, whose unpopularity Republicans used to attack Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in the Georgia special election in June. (RELATED: Dems Turn On Nancy Pelosi After Ossoff Loss [VIDEO])
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan conceded after Ossoff’s loss that Pelosi is more “toxic” than Trump in certain areas of the country that Democrats are trying to win back. While Ryan was among the first to call for Pelosi’s head, more and more Democrats are trying to put distance between themselves and Pelosi.
A recent survey of 20 Democratic House candidates found only one willing to declare support for Pelosi, McClatchy reported Thursday.
As Democratic party leaders struggle to unite an increasingly polarized party, 2018 draws ever nearer.
This article has been updated to include statement from the RNC.