Gutsy Democrats start turning on the far-left

A revolution brews in the Democratic Party, and it’s not the usual left-wing threats to sabotage moderate Democratic candidates. It’s the Democratic mainstream telling the fringe to go pound sand.

The causes change. It used to be defunding police. Now it is the war in Gaza. Irritation among moderate Democrats has been growing for some time, but this issue has them breaking free.

The self-liberating Democrats include John Fetterman, senator from Pennsylvania, and Ritchie Torres, congressman from the Bronx. Both have expressed strong support for Israel’s efforts to dismantle Hamas. Both shrug at the displeasure of their party’s radicals.

Once regarded a progressive icon, Fetterman says he now doesn’t care that the left doesn’t like him. The left didn’t like Joe Biden either, and he not only beat Donald Trump in 2020; he vanquished their socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.

For the record, Fetterman doesn’t subscribe to the comic-book villain-versus-hero reading of the Gaza conflict. He stated, “Without destroying Hamas, there will be no enduring peace and a stable, two-state solution.” But he also said, “I would be the last man standing to be absolutely there on the Israeli side on this with no conditions.”

Then there’s Torres. Half-Black, half-Latino and gay, Torres provides the fringes with a solid checklist of approved identities. He’s just too smart to hand his soul over to them.

“There are few people in American politics who have been as visibly and vocally supportive of Israel as I’ve been,” Torres said without apology.

The activists staged a “Bronx Solidarity with Palestine” rally outside Torres’ district office, as is their right. The group’s spokesman, however, smeared Torres as a “visible spokesperson for defending Israeli cleansing against the Palestinian people.” He then accused Torres of doing exactly what his group was doing, spreading “hate-rhetoric” against the other side.

Not surprisingly, Torres has kept his distance from the left-wing “Squad,” though its founder, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, represents his neighboring district.

One of the Squad’s members, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, may have some trouble getting reelected. Regarded as anti-Israel without nuance, he is being primaried in his district, most of it in the suburbs north of the Bronx. He is being challenged by George Latimer, the Westchester County executive.

However one may cast blame for the latest Mideast tragedy, Bowman already earned removal over his stunt setting off a fire alarm in the House office building. Democrats at the time were trying to stall a Republican stopgap spending bill.

Bowman said, “I thought the alarm would open the door,” which we assume was a lie. More likely, he was working his inner juvenile delinquent.

One of the far left’s tools for grabbing attention is to block bridges and highways. Gaza war protestors did that in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Tacoma and elsewhere. And, of course, in New York, where they also briefly disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It is highly unlikely that the commuters taken hostage by their demonstrations were thinking, “Hey, I’m glad you ruined my day. Your cause must be just.” No. They’re not about winning minds. They’re about getting audience. Performance is all.

There’s now a move among some to threaten Biden’s reelection over his support for the elimination of Hamas. The fuller picture has Biden also pressuring Israel to pull back from attacks resulting in so many civilian deaths.

Some on the left again talk about supporting third-party radicals who could spoil a moderate Democrat’s ability to win. They did this with success in 2000 and again in 2016.

The Democratic mainstream should stop trying to placate the children and replace them with centrist independents and Republicans done with the Trump show. Happily, that may have started already.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.