AP

Liberal Dems laud Amazon win, moderates fret leftward drift?

Feb 15, 2019, 9:57 AM
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, waves to ...
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, waves to the crowd after speaking at Women's Unity Rally organized by Women's March NYC at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan in New York. On Thursday, Feb. 14, newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a chorus of cheers as Amazon announced it was abandoning plans to build a sought-after headquarters in New York City. Activists berated the online giant for a $3 billion package of tax breaks she said the city could better invest in hiring teachers or fixing the subway. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — What is happening to the Democrats?

Captivated by a handful of liberal superstars, they are venturing where the party has long feared to tread: Steep taxes on the rich. Abolishing an immigration enforcement agency. Proposing “economic transformation” to combat climate change. Gleefully waving goodbye to a big business — and its jobs.

On Thursday, newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a chorus of cheers as Amazon announced it was abandoning plans to build a sought-after headquarters in New York City. Activists berated the online giant for a $3 billion package of tax breaks she said the city could better invest in hiring teachers or fixing the subway.

This is not the Democratic Party of yesteryear. Or even last year.

“The Amazon New York fight is an illustration of how power is moving to the left,” said Ben Wikler, of the liberal group MoveOn. “One of the world’s most powerful organizations doesn’t want to pick a fight with progressive activists.”

As the liberal flank celebrates its sudden ascendance in the party, energized by the new House freshmen pushing the party toward bold policy solutions, others wonder if the Democrats are veering so far left they’re about to fall off a cliff.

It’s a valid question ahead of a presidential primary season with an unusually robust roster of contenders trying to wrest the White House from President Donald Trump. The race comes at a time of shifting party loyalties and eroding confidence in traditional corridors of power, a dynamic that has recast the policy prescriptions of both parties.

The big questions for 2020: Will Democrats move beyond the center-left policies that have dominated the party since Bill Clinton’s presidency? And if so, will they find the electorate is repelled, as Republicans claim, or will they discover that a country long described as “center-right” is receptive to a return to liberalism?

Democratic pollster John Anzalone said the leftward lurch that’s playing out in the Amazon fight wouldn’t necessarily hurt the party heading into 2020 and could resonate with voters.

“When you’re doing corporate giveaways, whether for a big company or a sports team, it’s not as cut-and-dry as most people think,” Anzalone said. “The fact is there tends to be a belief that these big corporations have a lot of money and use their power to get deals they don’t need.”

As if to highlight the churn within the party, the 2020 class was mixed in their reactions.

A spokesman for former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t respond to a request for comment. Howard Schultz, another business-minded former Democrat who’s now weighing an independent bid for president, also declined to comment.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have long railed against the influence of corporations, weighed in, as did New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“The people of New York and America are increasingly concerned about the power of large multinational corporations and the billions in corporate welfare they receive,” Sanders said in a statement. “Our job is to end the race to the bottom where taxpayers in one city or state are forced to bid against each other for desperately needed jobs. This is what the rigged economy is all about.”

Warren tweeted: “One of the wealthiest companies on the planet – just walked away from billions in taxpayer bribes, all because some elected officials in New York aren’t sucking up to them enough. How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage?”

And Gillibrand said, “Walking away so quickly shows that Amazon was interested in the taxpayer assistance and not being a good neighbor in Queens hiring the greatest workers in the world.”

As liberal activists across the country welcomed Amazon’s decision as a fresh demonstration of the increasing power of the Democratic Party’s far-left wing, Republicans highlighted the same thing, using the situation to cast the modern-day Democratic Party as extreme. Following Trump’s lead, they pepper their speeches with claims that Democrats are veering toward socialism.

“Now, thousands of #New Yorkers will be deprived of good paying jobs at #amazon because of socialists like @AOC – and unfortunately the promise of a #greenjob won’t pay the bills,” former Trump aide Sean Spicer said on Twitter.

On Capitol Hill, it’s hard not to compare the arrival of Ocasio-Cortez and the emerging Democratic divide to the tea party class of 2010 that took control of the House and pushed the Republican agenda rightward, ultimately helping give rise to the politics of Trump.

It’s not just Ocasio-Cortez. She and House colleagues — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — jointly announced their opposition to the bipartisan border security deal. They want to cut the Department of Homeland Security’s budget over the administration’s deportation policies, including those that separated families at the border.

The four lawmakers were urged on by activists outside the Capitol, protesting what’s seen as ICE’s unnecessarily harsh deportations and raids against immigrants here illegally.

Omar, who is Muslim-American, pushed the party further into conflict this week with comments about Israel that were widely seen as anti-Semitic. She apologized. But the questions she and others are raising about the longstanding U.S. ally reflect a growing unease among some Democrats with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Democratic Party’s diversity in the House is its strength, as evidenced by the way her caucus held unified against Trump’s demand for money from Congress to build the wall on the border with Mexico.

“Welcome to the Democratic Party,” Pelosi said Thursday. “We are not a monolith, never have been. And who would want to lead a party that would be described that way?”

While some high-profile newcomers are capturing media attention, the House majority was also won with new lawmakers who are more measured in their approach to governing even as they battle Trump. All but 19 Democrats approved the bipartisan border package late Thursday.

But other Democrats marvel at how quickly the party has shifted even since the 2016 election.

This week, when the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, announced an upcoming vote on the Green New Deal climate change plan as a way to force Democrats into an awkward vote, the Democrats responded, “Bring it on.” They say Americans want answers on climate change, and Republicans have none.

Ocasio-Cortez, who stunned Washington when she knocked off an incumbent party leader during a primary last year, recently suggested a 70 percent marginal tax rate on top earners.

“Anything is possible,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday, “today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
4 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
6 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
7 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
8 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
8 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Liberal Dems laud Amazon win, moderates fret leftward drift?