The Democratic Party is currently grappling with internal conflicts between its centrist and progressive factions.
This discord, particularly evident on issues like the war in Gaza, could potentially disadvantage the party and inadvertently benefit Donald Trump’s Republicans in the upcoming 2024 elections.
Central to this strife are members of the progressive “Squad,” who face serious challenges in the upcoming House primaries.
Gaza Conflict Deepening Party Divisions
The issue of Gaza has polarized the party, likely influencing key decisions in the Democratic primaries.
Squad members, including Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, and Ilhan Omar, have been vocal in their criticism of Israel, accusing it of aggravating the humanitarian crisis.
They now confront formidable primary challengers, fueling fears of weakening the party’s unity ahead of the November elections.
Chris Scott’s Perspective on Party Infighting
Chris Scott, co-founder and president of the Advance the Electorate political action committee (Ate Pac), expressed concerns about the detrimental impact of internal conflicts.
“A lot of us have seen the headlines that Squad or Squad-adjacent members could be in trouble this cycle,” Scott said.
He emphasized the need for focus, especially in the face of a greater external threat.
“When I look at 2024, this is not the cycle where we need to be getting in a battle within our home faction,” he added.
Challenges Faced by Squad Members
The primaries present significant challenges for Squad members. Bowman is up against George Latimer, a pro-Israel Westchester county executive potentially supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Bush is contending with Wesley Bell, a county prosecutor who criticized her response to the Hamas attack.
Omar faces stiff competition from Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis city council member who previously came close to unseating her, along with other challengers like Sarah Gad and Tim Peterson.
Centrist Criticism of Progressive Policies
Centrists within the party see an opportunity to challenge progressive stances on a variety of issues, including Israel.
Matt Bennett, co-founder and executive vice-president for public affairs at Third Way, expressed his view on the Squad’s influence:
“The Squad for the most part has been problematic for Democrats generally because their voices are outsized and very loud and they have come to define what it means to be a Democrat in swing districts, and that can be very difficult.”
He further commented on primaries against incumbent Democrats, particularly in the case of Cori Bush:
“We are not huge fans of primaries against incumbent Democrats – often those resources can be directed more forcefully elsewhere to try to beat Republicans – but Cori Bush has done and said a lot of things that are going to be weaponized against her Democratic colleagues and so we wouldn’t be heartbroken if she’s beaten by a more mainstream Democrat in a primary.”
Influence of Pro-Israel Super Pacs
The primaries are further complicated by the involvement of pro-Israel Super Pacs and dark-money groups, which are poised to spend heavily to influence the outcomes.
Critics argue that these groups often misrepresent the progressives’ views, portraying them as supporters of Hamas.
The Broader Impact on the Democratic Party
As the Democratic Party navigates these internal divisions, there is a growing concern about the potential impact on the party’s overall prospects in the 2024 elections.
The debate over Gaza and other divisive issues could shift the party’s focus away from unifying against common threats, including the possibility of a Trump comeback.