New ‘Liberal Tea Party’ is On the Rise

Grass-roots movements can be the life and death of political leaders.

It’s a well-worn story now about how John A. Boehner, then House minority leader, joined a rising star in his caucus, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in April 2009 for one of the first major tea party protests in the California Republican’s home town of Bakersfield.

A little more than six years later, after they surfed that wave into power, the movement consumed both of them. Boehner was driven out of the House speaker’s office and McCarthy’s expected succession fell apart, leaving him stuck at the rank of majority leader.

Democrats are well aware of that history as they try to tap the energy of the roiling liberal activists who have staged rallies and marches in the first three weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.

What if they can fuse these protesters, many of whom have never been politically active, into the liberal firmament? What if a new tea party is arising, with the energy and enthusiasm to bring out new voters and make a real difference at the polls, starting with the 2018 midterm elections?

The women’s marches that brought millions onto streets across the country the day after Trump’s inauguration — spurred organically through social media — opened Democratic leaders’ eyes to the possibilities.

With a 10-day recess beginning next weekend, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has instructed her members to hold a “day of action” in their districts, including town halls focused on saving the Affordable Care Act. The following weekend, Democratic senators and House members will hold protests across the country, hoping to link arms with local activists who have already marched against Trump.

“It was important to us to make sure that we reach out to everyone we could, to visit with them, to keep them engaged, to engage those that maybe aren’t engaged,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters at a Democratic retreat in Baltimore that ended Friday. The trick is to keep them aiming their fire at Republicans and Trump, not turning it into a circular firing squad targeting fellow Democrats.

“Now we want people to run for office, to volunteer and to vote,” Luján added.

It’s too early to tell which direction this movement will take, but there are some similarities to the early days of the conservative tea party.

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SOURCE: Paul Kane 
The Washington Post