Rally highlights schism among Democrats

Political soothsayers sifting for clues that President Obama's worrisome “enthusiasm gap” was narrowed by Saturday's One Nation rally may have to look elsewhere.

The tens of thousands who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial demanding more federal funding for jobs, schools and justice included some of the bedrock constituencies of the Democratic Party.

But much like the tea party movement they seek to counterpoint, the liberal groups on The Mall represent a schism within their party, and a persistent unhappiness with Washington leadership.

While many at the rally took shots at the Tea Party movement, sprinkled among the thousands near the Lincoln Memorial were those with signs like “Spend Money on Jobs — Not War” that indicated dissatisfaction with Obama administration priorities, as well as the work of a Congress controlled by Democrats.

“The Democrats haven't delivered on their promises and a lot of the hopes people had about being the majority party,” said Mischa Gaus, editor of Labor Notes, the nation's largest independent union publication. “Part of this is to say you need to buck up, and deliver on what you promised.”

The other part, Gaus and other rally participants said, is sending a message that liberal activism is alive and strong despite the media attention paid to the tea party movement.

“One Nation doesn't seek to be the alternative to the tea party, but we do believe it's the antidote,” said Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, one of the rally partners.

Whether the One Nation rally serves as a get-out-the-vote generator for the Democrats is a murky prospect. Labor, environmentalists, the gay community and other constituencies are more often expressing frustration with Democratic leadership than otherwise.

Obama last week exhorted Democrats to “buck up,” and expressed exasperation about his party's lack of interest in this year's consequential midterm elections.

A recent Gallup poll found Republicans with a 20 percentage point lead over Democrats among voters who say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting this year.

“Part of being a Democrat, I guess, is kind of looking at the glass half empty sometimes and thinking, oh, gosh, we didn't get this, and we didn't get that, and I'm still dissatisfied that that hasn't happened,” Obama said.

Labor, one of the key organizing elements of the rally, is especially unhappy with Obama's compromises on health care and other key issues.

Unlike the tea party, the One Nation participants support more government activism, especially on issues like job creation, education policy and redirecting money spent on war to other causes.

David Swanson, a prominent anti-war activist and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, said this event brought different interest groups together for a unifying principle.

“You could close that enthusiasm gap in a day if you told people that we are going to end these wars and all that money will become available to provide people with quality jobs and education,” Swanson said.

Examiner reporter Freeman Klopott contributed to this story.

jmason@washingtonexaminer.com

LocalPoliticsUSWhite House

Just Posted

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The numbers show nearly 14 percent of San Francisco voters who participated in the Sept. 14 recall election wanted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from elected office. (Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)
How San Francisco neighborhoods voted in the Newsom recall

Sunset tops the list as the area with the most ‘yes’ votes

Alison Collins says that she and other members of San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education facing potential recall “represent constituents that are often erased or talked over.” <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Alison Collins speaks: Embattled SF school board member confronts the recall effort

‘It’s important for folks to know what this recall is about. It’s bigger than any one of us.’

Is the Black Cat incident a distraction from the recovery of The City’s storied nightlife industry or does Mayor London Breed’s behavior inadvertently highlight the predicament the industry’s been in since San Francisco reinstated indoor mask requirements on Aug. 20?<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner, 2021)</ins>
Club owners to maskless mayor: Are we the new fun police?

Black Cat affair highlights difficult recovery for nightlife industry

BART’s Powell Street station in The City was the site of a fatal accident on Sept. 13.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Powell Station death serves as a grim reminder. BART doors don’t stop for anyone

What you need to know about safety sensors on the trains

Most Read