House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was shouted down on Monday by liberal immigration protesters upset over her decision to engage in negotiations to protect DACA recipients with President Trump.
Per NPR's report:
Chanting "we are not a bargaining chip," the protesters upstaged Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. The confrontation went on for about 30 minutes, according to one published report. The chant was an apparent reference to reports that the Democrats might agree to Trump's demands for enhanced border security and other measures in exchange for an agreement to protect the estimated 800,000 recipients of the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Pelosi was rightly frustrated. This amounts to sacrificing the protections liberals want for DACA recipients in the interest of holding a hard line against compromise with Trump. But without some compromise, which Pelosi appeared last week to shrewdly negotiate, Democrats will likely get nothing. Is nothing better than something? I suppose hardcore progressive activists could make that argument, but it's hardly a reasonable one.
We're only nine months into the Trump presidency, though it's easy to forget what happened less than one year ago. At its outset late in 2016, the anti-Trump Resistance movement pledged to protest anyone who cooperated with the president on any issue, regardless of their party. This played out in the confirmation hearings over Trump's cabinet nominees and Justice Neil Gorsuch. Even Elizabeth Warren caught flack over a vote favorable to Ben Carson.
Consider this report from the New York Times in February:
Immediately after the November election, Democrats were divided over how to handle Mr. Trump, with one camp favoring all-out confrontation and another backing a seemingly less risky approach of coaxing him to the center with offers of compromise.
Now, spurred by explosive protests and a torrent of angry phone calls and emails from constituents — and outraged themselves by Mr. Trump's swift moves to enact a hard-line agenda — Democrats have all but cast aside any notion of conciliation with the White House. Instead, they are mimicking the Republican approach of the last eight years — the "party of no" — and wagering that brash obstruction will pay similar dividends.
Now, with the midterm elections looming, vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in states Trump won are singing the tune of bipartisanship in the hopes of persuading skeptical voters to give them another chance. In the upper chamber, this will be a little easier for senators such as Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and a little harder for senators such as Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
But Democrats have indulged their increasingly radical progressive base to the point where even liberal members such as Pelosi are protested at the first sign of compromise. With the party under significant pressure from progressive activists to #resist Trump at all costs, bipartisan cooperation will only be possible if Democrats have the backbone to resist the Resistance. And electoral victories in states like Indiana and Missouri will not happen if voters perceive Democratic candidates as progressive extremists who refuse to come to the negotiating table.
Monday's protest of Pelosi seemed to catch people off guard, the Minority Leader herself included. Perhaps the growing threat of a tough midterm cycle, and a lack of opportunities to compromise after the conclusion of cabinet confirmation season, dulled excitement surrounding the Resistance over the summer months. But it didn't go away, and that doesn't bode well for vulnerable Democrats.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.