A new week, a new manufactured controversy.
This week the story is a presidential tweet and hyperbolic charges of racism.
Instead of passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, or lifting the debt ceiling, or passing appropriations bills, or ending the human-made crisis at the southern border, House Democrats stopped everything to respond to a tweet.
The U.S. House of Representatives decided to dedicate two days of floor time to debating a tweet by President Trump. A sitting member of Congress, Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat, even forced a vote on impeachment, as if a tweet could meet the Constitution’s impeachment threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
This week’s manufactured crisis will evaporate quickly and be forgotten.
What will last is the rising profile of the so-called “The Squad,” a rabid pack of hyperliberal freshmen who are pushing the Democratic conference toward socialism.
Led by viral sensation Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the group includes fellow Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
The Squad thinks they are changing politics, and there is reason to believe they are making a difference — just not the one they may have planned.
Just last week Ms. Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacking their group, dismissing them as “only four votes” because they were women of color.
This is the risk of using the racism charge as a cudgel against every opponent — eventually the term loses its meaning.
The Squad has had zero legislative successes in the first six months of the new Congress, but they are forcing their party to move to the left.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was the brains behind the Green New Deal, a flimsy proposal which seeks to eliminate cows, the internal combustion engine, commercial air travel and most existing buildings. But her star power demanded that leading Democratic presidential candidates immediately endorse the proposal, and many of them did.
These four members do not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party — at least not until recently.
Ms. Pressley sees a person’s entire existence through the lens of race, choosing to bash any non-white person who does not use their race to advance issues the way she wishes.
Reps. Tlaib and Omar are outright anti-Semites and the counterargument cannot even be made with a straight face. Ms. Tlaib has ties to terrorist groups and wrote for vicious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan’s blog. Ms. Omar has been roundly criticized for repeatedly making anti-Semitic statements, has downplayed the significance of 9/11, refuses to criticize al Qaeda or antifa, and is now offering a resolution of support for the Boycott Divest Sanctions movement, which seeks to end all investment in Israel.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez herself is a radical member of the Sen. Bernard Sanders school and she has been a world-class irritant for Mrs. Pelosi and the Democrats since she arrived. Her chief of staff has become a cancer on Capitol Hill, accusing moderate Democrats of supporting segregation. Along with a preferred outside group, Justice Democrats, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is planning to openly support primary challengers to sitting Democratic members of Congress.
Most Democratic members have grown tired of The Squad and their antics. But this week’s developments ensure the quartet are here to stay and will have a large microphone to push their views.
This is not simply inside baseball. It is changing how voters see the Democratic Party.
According to Axios, a recent poll of swing voters found that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll and she had only a 22% favorable rating. Ms. Omar was recognized by 53% and had only a 9% favorable rating. Most importantly, socialism was viewed unfavorably by 69% of respondents.
Swing voters in key states will decide the presidency and the majority in Congress in 2020.
If Democrats continue to be defined by these four members of Congress, it will significantly benefit President Trump’s reelection and Republican candidates up and down the ballot.
• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney reelection campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.