Democrats' solution to the government shutdown could be as harmful to the party as the shutdown was itself.
The war between hardline progressive and centrist Democrats inflamed by the party's 2016 presidential primary contest has ebbed and flowed, but the agreement Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., came to with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday ignited yet another bitter battle. The same grassroots progressive base that pressured Democrats into the shutdown is now irate over party leadership's solution to it.
After Democrats agreed not to obstruct a budget bill that came without their desired DACA protections in exchange for a firm committment those protections would soon be negotiated, progressive leaders cried foul. The upper chamber Democrats who appear to be angling to make a run in 2020 voted against the measure, likely anticipating dissatisfaction and anger from the base. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., all voted no. Harris said, "The Majority Leader’s comments fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill. I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word."
In turn, MoveOn.org called the deal "terrible," arguing it "abandons Dreamers."
"This is a bad, outrageous deal," an executive director for the group said in a statement, continuing to assert "too many Democrats backed down, abandoned Dreamers, and failed to fight for their values."
Other progressive groups and individuals slammed the party as well.
Shame on every single Democrat who said they would not do this, but caved and did it anyway.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 22, 2018
Energizing the anti-Trump progressive Resistance could hurt establishment Democrats as much as it hurts centrist Democrats. Establishment Democrats like Schumer will face tougher protests and primary contests, while centrist Democrats like those incumbents up for re-election in Trump-friendly states will have to answer for (and in some cases to) their increasingly radical base.
In short, the shutdown turned out to be a mess for the Democratic Party.
As a modicum of silver lining, grassroots frustration with the establishment provides those progressive lawmakers fighting for favor with the base ahead of the 2020 primary an opportunity to prove their bonafides. Whether turning up the volume on members like Harris and Booker and Warren is helpful to the party, however, remains to be seen.