The powerful collective strength that 2018’s Blue Wave focused against a ruling Red disunity has now lost major momentum due to its own internal party divisiveness. Though unable to recapture the Senate, last election’s unification of the Left successfully delivered up the House of Representatives to renewed Democratic control. Fresh from a largely Resistance attack mode, those just elected and progressively optimistic hoped to reshape their party’s establishment stronghold, but even within those idealistically kindred ranks some newly victorious comrades in arms had difficulty staying lock-stepped. 

Some, unfamiliar with the reality of a bipartisan cultivated “Swamp,” envisioned a clean break from a playbook of the past dictated by the lightening-rod-plagued stewardship of Nancy Pelosi. Maine’s Jared Golden was among those refreshing voices voting against her re-appointment as an old guard’s aged presiding officer over a now promisingly rebooted and suddenly more youthful lower chamber of Congress. In taking that forward-looking stand of demanding new blood within the speakership itself, he was summarily taken to task by fellow freshman representative Alexander Ocasio-Cortez for being aligned with the opposition. Though Golden’s decidedly centrist by most standards, Ocasio-Cortez’s openly adversarial fealty to Speaker Pelosi achieved a monumental level of strange-bedfellow politics given Pelosi’s own deftly maneuvered opposition to Ocasio-Cortez’s overall rock-the-boat attack on a Pelosi enabled ship of state. Apparently, marching to the beat of one’s own drum is only OK for some and Golden, Pesoli and Ocasio-Cortez favor somewhat different shades of blue. If Golden’s a bit more purple on some issues, that shouldn’t be such a surprise considering the deep red preference of much of the constituency he was elected to represent. 

A major component of that Democratic victory last November was the Youth Wave’s solidarity against gun violence. The impressively responsive fast-tracked accomplishment of the now blue-again House majority was passage of the first major gun control measures in a generation, though that will likely not be repeated in the Republican-controlled Senate. Even the House support for that historic legislation wasn’t as true-blue as it could have been. Jared Golden voted against what he viewed as a gun control policy Mainers recently voted down 2-1 in a state citizen initiative. His first-in-a-century 2nd District defeat of an incumbent U.S. representative was significantly aided by a 2nd Amendment campaign ad depicting him turning from the camera and adroitly hitting a bullseye dead center while the Republican opponent repeatedly missed his target. Interestingly, Governor Mills also points out that 13 of Maine’s 16 counties voted against expanding background checks: “That’s a significant thing to me.” Somehow she’s escaped being painted by the same purple brush as Golden. 

Just a few months ago, Golden was emblematic of a new improved ranked-choice reinvention of democracy. Now he’s joined Susan Collins as a political pariah warranting whatever it takes to force their compliance or risk being hounded out of office. That Golden promises to back sensible 2nd Amendment interpretation will hopefully be better demonstrated by his future voting record. As often the case with Collins, Golden’s controversial vote gave him coverage with his base without any real jeopardy to ultimate legislative passage. 

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi regained her control as an astute force to be reckoned with without taking any really substantial steps to rein in gun violence, openly admitting that she’ll only champion legislation having predictable bipartisan support and foreseeing no additional gun control legislation following any time soon. It’s deja blue incrementalism all over again. 

New Zealand has no 2nd Amendment conflict in taking real action to curtail gun insanity. Bernie Sanders nevertheless cites Prime Minister Ardern as an example to follow. Here. Now. Meanwhile, Joe Biden awaits his optimum narcissist moment to formally challenge Sanders’ presidential bid while tellingly expressing dog-whistle concerns over the rise of a “New Left.” Deja Joe, let go. 

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are up-front Democratic Socialists. They’re also avowed environmental advocates declaring all-out war on climate change. How well blue mixes with green is a dark horse of another color that an entrenched Democratic leadership conspires to hobble. Here too, a Youth Wave’s all well and good but the Sunrise Movement isn’t getting Pelosi’s blessing. She welcomes its “enthusiasm” sans any enthusiasm herself. 

Chellie Pingree’s all-in on being fully Green. The rest of Maine’s Congressional delegation are all for combating climate change yet still hesitated in immediately committing to even a non-binding resolution with no actual enforceable environmental teeth. Governor Mills continues favoring a go-slow approach in “transitioning” to a “low-carbon economy.” 

Blue’s now the dominant color in Augusta. In Washington three of our four delegates are de facto Democrats. Doing anything less than pushing as hard as one can to immediately achieve carbon neutrality while reinstating the now forgotten Federal Assault Weapons Ban is to invite the shame constantly leveled against the other side of the aisle. 

With power comes the expectation of leadership. Let’s not even mention Pelosi’s calculated injunction against impeachment, or how “collusion” remains an everyday bipartisan establishment hold on power. Think Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 

What was the point of the entire Blue Wave exercise if it’s ultimately going to pull its punch? 

Gary Anderson lives in Bath. 

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