Steny Hoyer and Tory Democrats Must Go – The Towerlight
By: J. Crawford, columnist
The opinions expressed in the column are those of the author.
Midterm elections are already on the minds of most silent activists as some progressives and radicals brace for what could be either a landslide loss or a slight misfire in our two-year peaceful overthrow of government.
It has always been common for the party in the White House to lose House and Senate seats midterm, but this election comes at a time when a lingering pandemic and stagnating liberal agenda are turning many nervous eyes to congressional districts poised to turn red.
Pinning the legislative impasse entirely on conservative Republican congressmen who oppose common-sense reform isn’t necessarily productive when the divisions within the Democratic Party are thick enough to be seen without a magnifying glass. The American left is plagued by a less impressive strain of the factionalism seen in the late 1960s. There is a very real conflict between conservative and progressive Democrats, a conflict that hampers progress and undermines a streamlined agenda.
Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, second to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is due to go. The old guard representing Maryland’s 5th congressional district is 82 years old, politely outdated, and a significant impediment to the progress of the more radical elements of the party with whom, for the sake of transparency, I identify.
Hoyer has served in the House since 1981, twice House Majority Leader with an extended stint as Minority Whip. He has been a staunch ally of a moderate Democratic platform for over forty years, traditionally voting along party lines. Over the past decade, however, as party lines begin to shift and young people begin to drift more in favor of left-wing politicsHoyer’s unchanging views have been unsavory for some progressive coalitions within the party.
For the past five years, Hoyer has joined a House resolution condemning the United Nations stance against Israeli encroachment on Palestinian territory. This came shortly before he backed then-President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He opposed the planned withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2019, indicative of his unchanging views on foreign policy. Hoyer was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq long after public favor had turned against her. War, imperialism and antagonism have always been the subject of almost unanimous contempt on the part of progressives.
But for the introverted American, Steny Hoyer’s biggest problem remains the climate crisis. The Green New Deal has been a subject of fierce debate since its conception in 2018; it draws criticism from some conservatives for being unnecessarily idealistic and unrealistic, for capitalizing on a not-so-urgent issue for the benefit of a political agenda. For generations of young people (and their allies in Congress), tackling the climate crisis has been about garnering legitimacy and political capital to push real reform through Congress. When the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis was finally authorized in 2018, Steny Hoyer was blamed for spoiling a key victory for progressives.
While the select committee was well within its rights, according to the enabling legislation, “to investigate, study, make findings and develop recommendations on policies, strategies and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis,” top Democratic leaders in the House — over whom Hoyer wields considerable influence — would not grant them subpoena power.
During a press conference, Hoyer noted “[the committee] will be a recommendation committee to the energy and commerce committee… I don’t know if they think they need subpoena power.
They do. The subpoena power allows the committee to hold billionaires and fossil fuel executives accountable for willful harm to the environment; without the ability to subpoena, the committee loses its backbone.
Hoyer is not entirely responsible for the failure of the select committee’s ambitions. However, he remains the figurehead of a conservative Democratic tradition that is rapidly going out of fashion.
As these midterm elections approach, with seats swaying between blue and red, critics will say stagnation in politics is the cause of voter discontent. They are right. However, it is essential to understand that for Democrats, the fight for real change is much more nuanced than a fight to the death against colleagues opposite; progressives are fighting an uphill battle against their own party.
The solution is our biannual overthrow of our government. The primaries give young voters a chance to vote out incumbents and advance new candidates. It is only through organizing and mobilizing, through the reversal of seats within the party, that we can achieve greater unity and progress.