Last week, the US House of Representatives voted 305 to 102 to pass a Trump-friendly emergency spending bill worth $4.6 billion, pumping relatively unrestricted cash into the very institutions that have created a humanitarian crisis at the US–Mexico border. Coming at a time when we are debating whether or not Trump’s immigrant detention centers qualify as concentration camps (they do), the bill’s passage was enough to make one wonder why having a Democratic congressional majority should matter to anyone who does not want to, say, rip children away from their parents, put them in cages, and leave them to wallow in their own filth for days along the border.
To her credit — not that she deserves much — Nancy Pelosi tried to limit what Trump could do with the money, but was outorganized by conservative Democrats. One of the groups that led this successful maneuvering was the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan caucus led by Democrat Josh Gottheimer and Republican Tom Reed that is comprised of some twenty-four right-wing Democrats (is your representative one of them?) and twenty-four Republicans. They are closely associated with No Labels and the billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon.
The Problem Solvers Caucus hearkens to nostalgia for a supposedly bygone era of bipartisanship. But today, Democratic members of the caucus amount to Trump apologists. They fund concentration camps for kids. Every single one of them should be primaried by candidates from the Left in 2020.
One hopes that we might see in the House a similar phenomenon to what happened in New York State last year. Though New York is overwhelmingly Democratic, a group of centrist, opportunistic state senators formed the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), handing control of their chamber to the Republican Party for seven years. No IDC, the Working Families Party, and a generally irate electorate ended six of eight IDC political careers in September 2018. The results of this political upheaval include transformative state-level climate change legislation and desperately needed rent regulation.
We need an analogous eradication of the Problem Solvers Caucus in 2020. They’re not solving any problems — they’re enabling brutal human rights abuses on the border.
I’m pulling for Sanders in 2020. But whoever the nominee is, 2020 will be a wave year for Democrats. There is no reason why every single district with a Problem Solvers Caucus member shouldn’t be primaried, leaving the winner ready to handle even a competitive general election race against a Republican. Democratic turnout will be higher than ever.
The primary platform should be tailored to each of the twenty-four congressional districts with a Problem Solvers Caucus member, but some broad contours are appropriate.
- Anti-Trump. Following the anti-IDC messaging in New York, every Problem Solvers member should be called out for what they are: Democratic Trump apologists who fund concentrations camps at the US–Mexico border.
- Green… If we’re going to keep this planet from going up in flames, we need to find a way to message the environmental crisis in swing districts. If we can’t do it in 2020, a wave year, coming off of four years under the rule of a wannabe fascist, we’re doomed anyway.
- …New Deal. Most Trump Caucus members are in swing districts and operate on the mistaken assumption that pivoting to the center is the best way win. But broad, universal programs and regulations — linked to transformation from an environmentally destructive to an environmentally sustainable economy — are wildly popular in the United States.
The border camps that Trump is developing and “enhancing” — the ones where seven-year-olds are tasked with caring for two-year-olds they’ve just met, without the help of technologies like fucking diapers — won’t be stopped in Washington, DC, alone. Everyone with the heart, time, and energy should be throwing their bodies into the gears of this machine that amounts to state-sanctioned child abuses.
The election in 2020 is just around the corner. We must crush the concentration camps and gain the elected seats we need to begin to build the economy of the future. Having a few friends in office like AOC and Bernie, who are pushing that agenda now within the Democratic Party, is crucial. But we need a lot more. And the Problem Solvers have to go.