Democrats: Not just the ‘Party of No,’ but of ‘Hell No’

Warren Caucus

Gridlock and obstructionism will have a new face in Washington come January: liberal Senate Democrats. The incoming Democrat minority created a special leadership position for liberal populist Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), signaling a hard-left turn within the new minority.

“The best news about a Republican majority in the Senate is that the Republican minority is now gone. They were just a god-awful minority,” said Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Moderate Democrats sided with Republicans on a failed attempt to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, an intiative that embodies the fight between the environmentalist Left and the pro-energy Right. And Americans should gear up for more fights along those ideological lines in the Senate. The liberal ‘hell no’ caucus is going to be a vocal and persistent minority over the next two years.

From one account:

Liberal Senate Democrats united to block the controversial [Keystone XL] project, even though their imperiled Democratic colleague Mary Landrieu of Louisiana begged them not to at a Democratic Caucus lunch on Tuesday afternoon.

It was a remarkable move for a group that has stood behind Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over the years, as he sought to protect vulnerable moderates, like Landrieu and some of her now-ousted colleagues, from taking tough votes on divisive environmental, health care and social issues.

But red-state Democrats like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska are on their way out, and liberals like Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse — with Elizabeth Warren leading the way on messaging — may cause as many headaches for Senate Republicans as tea partyers caused Democrats in the past four years.

“I will use whatever tools I have as a senator to protect the environment,” said Merkley, a liberal from Oregon.

Since 2010, media outlets have labeled Republicans in Congress as the ‘Party of No’ — as the obstructionists who refuse to work across the aisle to achieve major legislative victories.

The incoming obstructionist Democrats may be viewed more favorably — by the media, at least. POLITICO is already calling the incoming liberal minority “the last line of congressional defense” against Republican-passed legislation, a striking departure from the obstructionist description of Republicans in the past.

POLITICO posits:

And as the GOP plans its agenda, members of the party’s left wing are vowing that there’s still fight left in them despite their diminished influence: If provoked, they say they are ready to use Senate procedure to fight the majority’s agenda tooth and nail.

In 2012, one POLITICO reporter even admitted the narrative against Republicans was that of obstructionism.

The aricle concludes:

Even as they vow to fight Republicans at every turn on issues that fundamentally divide liberals and conservatives, left-leaning Democrats insist that they will not do so seeking retaliation against a Republican minority that stymied their economic, environmental and social priorities for so long with filibusters and delay. Those days, they insist, are gone — leaving liberals to somehow find a balance between fighting for their convictions and not drawing the same charges of obstruction that have dominated Democratic messaging for years. [emphasis added]

It’s very likely that the press will be more kind to Democrat minority attempts to derail Republican legislation as the Democrats attempt to regain their electoral footing nationally. It will be interesting to see if the media considers the liberal Senate minority the kinder, gentler face of Washington obstruction.

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