After nearly losing her seat during this year’s election, Representative Abigail Spanberger said that Democrats should never utter the word “socialism” again. She’s right. Throughout the election, progressive groups like the innocuously named Settle For Biden and “the Squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and friends—strategically undermined the Democratic nominee for president. As President-Elect Joe Biden prepares to govern, the party’s left wing should be thankful. He caved and glorified the Green New Deal on his website and selected among the senate’s most liberal members as vice president. Two weeks after the election, President Donald Trump refuses to concede and America becomes more polarized by the day. The far left must stop pouring gasoline on the fires of national division and allow Biden to fulfill his unifying mandate.
Bernie Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party pushed Biden throughout the general election campaign to embrace policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare For All. The electoral success of these plans, however, are very unclear—most notably due to the financial costs. So, when Trump repeatedly told Joe Biden that he “lost the left” after he didn’t fully embrace Medicare For All in the first debate, Biden looked like he didn’t have full control over the Democrats. As a presidential nominee, he is the face of the party. As a president, he is an executive who needs to hear multiple perspectives to make intelligent decisions, not just cater to the wishes of one wing of his party. That’s the difference that clearly goes over Settle for Biden’s head.
According to its website, Settle For Biden is a group of former Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders supporters who “recognize Joe Biden’s flaws but know that our nation will not survive four more years of Donald Trump.” On the surface, this reason is totally legitimate: Biden, like every other politician, is not a perfect candidate. Then, one dives deeper into its social media activity and sees that the group behaves more like a Republican National Committee communications director pretending to help elect Biden.
Their posts range from critiquing how Biden wears a mask to constantly reminding voters that Biden is mediocre. Settle For Biden centers its platform not around genuine party unity, but rather an odd combination of GOP and far-left talking points about Biden. The group also goes about these talking points while claiming to turn out progressive voters. It’s not just incoherent, but also politically detrimental to every Democrat who wants to project a strong party that can lead. Republicans are taking note. Matt Gaetz, a young Republican congressman from Florida, mentioned the group in his RNC speech: “‘Settle for Biden.’ That’s the hashtag promoted by AOC [Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and the socialists. The Woketopians will settle for him because they will make him an extra in a movie written, produced, and directed by others.”
Biden won and is preparing to govern. Rather than supporting his more moderate message and call for unity, the Squad has different plans. Squad members played victim, acting like the Democratic establishment was bullying them for losing US House seats. Seeing that Republicans successfully attacked politically asinine, unpopular slogans like “defund the police,” moderates (and more strategic progressives) are rightfully furious. Ocasio-Cortez pretended that she may leave politics because of Democratic criticism. At the same time, the Squad lashed out and called the Democratic establishment incompetent, underprioritizing online strategy. These actions signal an unwillingness for the party’s left wing to tone down its rhetoric.
In his victory speech, Biden called for depolarization and compromise with Republicans: “I believe that this is part of the mandate from the American people. They want us to cooperate.” If Settle for Biden is even a partial window into the far left’s psyche, we can expect a sustained strategy to undermine President Biden over the next four years. Unless the Squad tones down its rhetoric, cooperation and unity will remain idealist fantasies.