Democratic voters want to see their leaders fight

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the new leader of the 2.1 million-member California Federation of Labor, is tired of the Democrats “playing well.”

“Maybe if we hadn’t been so polite, smart and reasonable, we wouldn’t be facing the never-ending losing battle we face today,” the former member of the Academy tweeted recently. San Diego Democratic Assembly in response to someone who questioned his use of profanity in challenging Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on the social media platform.

“I want bold elected officials who stick to their progressive values ​​and fight for the common good. We can still save our country,” she wrote. “Stop squeezing your pearls.”

Gonzalez Fletcher was expressing what many Democratic voters are feeling right now. They want their elected leaders to fight when it comes to life and death issues such as abortion, climate change, immigration, health care and workers’ rights.

She is not alone. Ever since Saturday’s Summer of Rage abortion rights protest drew thousands outside the White House in California, left-leaning voters have been demanding more from their leaders. If Democrats don’t show flexibility when controlling Congress and the White House, when will they?

If they don’t, Democrats might not vote in November. Republicans (58%) are much more likely than Democrats (48%) to say they are “more excited” about voting this year than before, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

Activists say Democrats could reverse that trend by doing more than just voicing support, especially when it comes to abortion. Saturday’s Women’s March event was aimed directly at Democrats, specifically President Biden, the march’s executive director, Rachel O’Leary Carmona, told me.

“There’s a tendency for Democrats to put decorum before democracy and say it would be unseemly to fight the way Republicans fight,” Carmona said.

At this point in history, “there was an unprecedented attack on rights,” Carmona said. Still, “what the Democrats are doing (in response) is forgettable.”

Gonzalez Fletcher, 50, acknowledged that many politically active people of his generation who typically align themselves with the Democratic agenda “will always vote Democrat because they realize it’s better than the other side.” .

“But young people who the Democratic Party promises we stand for something want to see Democrats act on those things. They need to see us at least fight for these things,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We are part of it. But we are not doing enough. »

Protest is an important part of that resistance, Gonzalez Fletcher said. “But it’s more than that. It is a strategic desire to change the institutions. Nonviolent revolutions only happen with huge institutional changes. And young people deserve it. »

On Friday, President Biden responded to the public pressure by signing an executive order aimed at guaranteeing patients access to emergency contraception and abortifacient drugs.

But critics said many parts of the orders were vague, such as asking the head of the Federal Trade Commission to “consider actions” to protect the privacy of patients seeking reproductive health care information.

Democrats need to go further, Carmona said.

For starters, she said, Biden could declare a public health emergency, which could expand the federal government’s ability to prescribe abortion pills across states. The administration reportedly rejected that idea — precisely the kind of move the Dems are crazy about.

“We don’t think he has a magic wand,” Carmona told me. “We don’t think Biden can go back to two weeks ago (before the Supreme Court overturned Roe). We understand the calculus of the Senate and the limits of executive powers. But we also know they can do more than just send fundraisers. So we want (the Democrats) to do that.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park (Los Angeles County), said some Democrats want to strike back boldly against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Chu has — both on the street and at home.

Chu, who was arrested during an abortion rights protest near the Capitol last month, said Friday that her bill to enshrine Roe’s protections against Wade in federal law, the protection of women’s health, will be voted on in the House this week. It’s his second round. It passed the House last fall, but died in the Senate.

Chu acknowledged that he could suffer the same fate. Sens Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona still oppose lifting the filibuster requirement for an abortion rights bill. (Last week, after writing an article outlining her unclear position on lifting the filibuster for an abortion rights law, California Senator Dianne Feinstein clarified her position: she would support lifting the filibuster for an abortion rights law. filibuster to legalize the process.)

“If we had two senators we could elect who are both for ending the filibuster and for voting for the Women’s Health Protection Act, we can put that into law,” said Chu.

But that will probably only happen after the November election, if ever.

So for now, will the Democrats continue to play the good guys?

It’s not a question that Democrats are being too nice, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, told me, “It’s a question that they’re not for bold institutional reform.” For Khanna, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, that means eliminating the filibuster or establishing term limits for Supreme Court justices.

“I would say we’re too institutional, too deferential to norms that are in many ways anti-majority,” Khanna told me.

Proponents of the filibuster, like Sinema, said it encourages bipartisanship, “forces moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing political poles”. If Republicans took control of Congress and the White House in 2024 and suspended the filibuster, they could pass a nationwide abortion ban, filibusters say.

Carmona, the leader of the Women’s March, wants Democrats to take this chance.

“The easiest way to lose is to concede, and I think not fighting and not going all out is conceding,” she said. “The reality is that anything less than fighting with everything we have risks everything we love. And that’s the long and the short.

Joe Garofoli is the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political editor. Email: [email protected]: @joegarofoli

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