(Headline USA) Following their defeat in the recent midterm elections, House Democrats doubled down on their divisive radicalism on Wednesday, selecting Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., replace long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., next year.
Although Jeffries has a troubling history of making divisive remarks and is the nephew of a firebrand anti-Semite, City University of New York Prof. Leonard Jeffries, Democrats were eager to brush aside his beliefs in favor of his identity—becoming the first black congressional leader in the party’s history.
The closed-door vote was unanimous, by acclamation.
The 52-year-old New Yorker has vowed to “get things done,” even after Republicans won control of the chamber.
“It’s a solemn responsibility that we are all inheriting,” Jeffries told reporters on the eve of the party meeting. “And the best thing that we can do as a result of the seriousness and solemnity of the moment is lean in hard and do the best damn job that we can for the people.”
It’s rare that a party that lost the midterm elections would so easily regroup and stands in stark contrast with the upheaval among Republicans, who are struggling to unite around GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker as they prepare to take control when the new Congress convenes in January.
But it may offer yet another indicator of Democrats’ increasingly monolithic and authoritarian line of thinking as they push to make identity politics the main vehicle in achieving their one and only objective to consolidate power and attempt to legislate themselves into permanent majority status.
Wednesday’s internal Democratic caucus votes of Jeffries and the other top leaders came without challengers. Cheers broke out after the elections.
The trio led by Jeffries, who will become the Democratic minority leader in the new Congress, includes 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts as the Democratic whip and 43-year-old Rep. Pete Aguilar of California as caucus chairman.
“The thing about Pete, Katherine and myself is that we embrace what the House represents,” Jeffries said, calling it “the institution closest to the people.”
The new team of Democratic leaders is expected to slide into the slots held by Pelosi and her top lieutenants—Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina—as the 80-something leaders make way for the next generation.
But in many ways, the trio has been transitioning in plain sight, as one aide put it—Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar working with Pelosi’s nod these past several years in lower-rung leadership roles as the San Francisco leftist prepared to step down.
Pelosi, of California, has led the House Democrats for the past 20 years, and Democrat colleagues late Tuesday granted her the honorific title of “speaker emerita”—a move that might be considered insurrectionary under different circumstances since they lacked the constitutional authority to create and bestow the new title.
Pelosi, who handily won her re-election on Nov. 8, plans to remain in the House as a rank-and-file member.
The House’s two new potential leaders, Jeffries and McCarthy, are of the same generation but have almost no real relationship to speak of—in fact the Democrat is known for leveling political barbs at the Republican from afar.
“We’re still working through the implications of Trumpism,” Jeffries said, “and what it has meant, as a very destabilizing force for American democracy.”
Jeffries’s caustic rhetoric is likely to mean little progress toward bipartisanship, despite the fact that McCarthy has a notably centrist voting record, to the chagrin of the GOP’s true conservative arm.
The far-left Jeffries said he hopes to find “common ground when possible” with Republicans but will “oppose their extremism when we must.”
On the other side of the Capitol, Jeffries will have a partner in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as two New Yorkers are poised to helm the Democratic leadership in Congress. They live about a mile apart in Brooklyn.
“There are going to be a group, in my judgment, of mainstream Republicans who are not going to want to go in the MAGA direction, and Hakeem’s the ideal type guy to work with them,” the notoriously dishonest Schumer claimed in an interview, without elaborating what qualities the Democrat would bring to the table in a spirit of cooperation.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., part of the “Squad” of extreme socialist lawmakers and one of the House’s few openly anti-Semitic members, said she has been heartened by the way Jeffries and his team are reaching out, even though they face no challengers.
“There’s a genuine sense that he wants to develop relationships and working partnerships with many of us,” she said.
Clyburn, now the highest-ranking black American in Congress, is seeking to become the assistant democratic leader, keeping a seat at the leadership table and helping the new generation to transition.
But Clyburn faces an unexpected challenge from Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is openly gay and argued Wednesday in a letter to colleagues that House Democrats should “fully respect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table.”
The election for the assistant leader post and several others is expected to be held Thursday.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press