Respectability politics may not save Democrats — but Nancy Pelosi hopes a call for more civility will help save her
Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi (Getty/Mario Tama)
As reports surfaced that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called on Trump resisters to harass Trump administration officials over the weekend, Nancy Pelosi wagged her finger. The House Minority Leader subtly reprimanded one of her own, adding to a growing bipartisan dogpile of criticism amidst a larger debate on the role of civility in the Trump era.
“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again,” Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote on Twitter on Monday morning. “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”
Her tweet came in response to Waters’ direct call to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border that has led to a surge in migrant family separations. At a rally in Los Angeles over the weekend, and later on a television interview, Waters called on citizens to harass individuals in the administration in public.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” Waters said.
“We don’t know what damage has been done to these children. All that we know is they’re in cages. They’re in prisons. They’re in jails. I don’t care what they call it, that’s where they are and Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are to let you know you cannot get away with this,” she added.
Pelosi was not the only one to criticize Waters’ comments.
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, a Congressional Black Caucus colleague of Waters, distanced himself from her comments during an MSNBC interview on Monday.
Waters’ comment followed the news that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant called Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday evening.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said on Twitter that nobody is deserving of harassment. “Left or right, nobody deserves this kind of treatment,” he tweeted.
Meghan McCain called Waters’ comments “extremely dangerous.”
David Axelrod, who worked as former President Barack Obama’s chief strategist publicly spoke out against Waters too, tweeting he “couldn’t disagree more” with her on Twitter.
Pelosi’s subtle rebuke underscores a burgeoning civil war between the far-left and moderate Democrats — one that appears to be acutely infiltrating the democratic party. As Salon previously explained, at least 20 Democrats who hope to be elected to the House of Representatives in this November’s midterm have publicly spoken out against Pelosi.
Max Rose, who is running for a House seat in the state of New York, is one.
“If the Democratic Party is going to earn back the trust of the American people, then we need to show them that we are serious about changing our politics – and that means we need a change in leadership,” he said in a statement to Politico.
Nicole Karlis is a staff writer at Salon. She covers health, science, tech and gender politics. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.
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