Here's the Battle Among Democrats You Probably Missed

November 17th 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

After the thumping they suffered on November 8, Democrats have been forced to ask "where to next?"

More than a week after the results came in, and the party's hopes of holding the White House and regaining the Senate were dashed, the answer remains unclear.

On Monday, the progressive wing of the party got a boost when Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison officially announced his run for chair of the Democratic National Committee. However, just two days later, the party shifted back toward the center when New York's long serving Senator Chuck Schumer became the chamber's minority leader.

Sen Chuck Schumer

What does this move mean for the future of the Party?

When Schumer accepted the will of his colleagues to become minority leader, he effectively chose to become the Democratic Party’s face come January when President-elect Donald Trump takes over the Oval Office.

Left-leaning democrats expressed concern about Schumer's ascendancy coming so soon after Trump rode a populist tide into the White House, especially given how richly the Senator's campaign coffers have benefited from Wall Street donors.

Two days before Schumer accepted the role of minority leader, approximately forty millennial activists occupied his D.C. office with demands for his replacement.

Organized under the banner of All of Us 2016, the group fights to “transform our democracy” using protest and electoral politics, according to Waleed Shahid, a leader of the organization. On Monday, they live-streamed their protest of Schumer on Facebook.

In the end, nearly half were arrested on camera on charges of obstructing a public space.


“I cannot stand to see Chuck Schumer be appointed the leader of the Democratic Party, the democratic opposition, because time and time again he’s chosen to side with Wall Street,” Shahid, a New York resident, told ATTN:.

The criticism of Schumer’s close-ties to Wall Street were part of a larger critique of the business-friendly relationship Democrats have cultivated, which were seen by some as a major reason for their election losses. All of Us 2016 demanded that Schumer remove his name from consideration as minority leader and that Sanders take the mantle instead.

“I think that Senator Sanders has time and time again tried to offer a different way of leading the Democratic Party, which involves inspiring and organizing millions of Americans behind a platform of togetherness and political revolution,” Shahid said.

However, even some leftists have begrudgingly acknowledged the wisdom of anointing Schumer. As Princeton historian Matt Karp noted in response to Sen. Bernie Sanders' surprising endorsement of Schumer, the veteran Senator will be asked less to craft the party's philosophical vision, and more to battle in the trenches of partisan politics.

Matt Karp Tweet

Matt Karp tweet 2

The veteran politician has long been seen as a tough dealmaker and is therefore in a strong position to work with the Republican Party as well as the new president-elect where they agree.

Schumer’s selections for the Senate’s Democratic leadership, which ranges from progressive leaders like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to more corporate friendly members like West Virginia's Joe Manchin, hint that he may indeed be trying to have his cake and eat it too.

Upon taking the role of minority leader, Schumer admitted as much when he said, “we’re ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Republicans, working with soon-to-be President Trump on issues where we agree. But we will go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we’ve made is under assault.”