Party leaders had expressed certainty that Trump’s divisiveness and mishandling of the pandemic would help them expand their majority with wins in GOP-held districts — and yet they lost at least a half-dozen seats and failed to retake the Senate. The explanation laid out by centrists, according to multiple people who were on the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity, is that Republicans were easily able to paint them all as socialists and radical leftists who endorse far-left positions such as defunding the police.
“We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. . . . We lost good members because of that,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who narrowly leads in her reelection bid, said heatedly. “If we are classifying Tuesday as a success . . . we will get f–ing torn apart in 2022.”
Other centrists, including Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas, made similar points. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Florida Democrat who suffered an unexpected loss to a Republican challenger, argued through tears that the party’s infighting on Twitter needs to stop.
Liberals, meanwhile, fired back. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, argued that Democrats shouldn’t single out people and ideas that energize the party base. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a self-described democratic socialist, grew angry, accusing her colleagues of only being interested in appealing to White people in suburbia.
“To be real, it sounds like you are saying stop pushing for what Black folks want,” she said.