New Democratic bloc’s push left unsettles party

THE DICKINSON PRESS:

A new generation of Democrats is using far-reaching policy ideas and a brash social media presence to upend the party – pushing it to the left on divisive issues such as health care and climate change while it charts a path aimed at taking the White House in 2020.

But the liberal shift, and the lawmakers driving it, are also creating challenges for Democrats in more-conservative areas, and they are giving President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans fresh opportunities for political attacks. The GOP has been particularly focused in recent days on hammering Democrats over draft details of a broad “Green New Deal” proposal, even if most Democrats have not directly endorsed the fine print.

The party’s increasingly liberal bent is also creating dilemmas for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is trying to manage a band of outspoken new liberal members while also staying attuned to the needs of moderates hailing from swing districts that could be key to Democrats retaining the House majority in 2020.

“We won the House through the middle,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who co-leads the Problem Solvers Caucus. “Our party has to be open and recognize that. And if we don’t and insist that everyone takes a hard line view on everything, (a) I don’t think that’s going to attract votes in the next election, and (b) it puts our majority at risk.”

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., said of his party’s shift to the left: “It makes it more difficult in more-rural areas like mine. Absolutely makes it more difficult.”

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