For those who believed that the vulnerable, disaffected white male ego was a conservative creature, the 2018 midterm elections and their aftermath have been an eye opener. Though the group has apparently been in existence since Donald Trump told the first of many presidential lies while swearing the oath of office, the “bi-partisan” Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) only recently gained national attention. And the ironically named group secured its notoriety for doing the very thing it purports to oppose – sowing discord, rather than supporting the unification required to tackle the country’s growing list of issues.
The PSC is right in the middle of providing an answer to a philosophical question. What if you host a revolution and no one attends? Co-chaired by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), the makeup and message of the Problem Solvers Caucus has the approximate self-awareness of, well, your average, privileged white male. That’s because the congressional group’s 48 members are quite the homogenous team. This quote from Esquire’s venerable political observer Charles P. Pierce does a good job of explaining the color-free penis party:
“Notice anything? Two women—Kathleen Rice and Linda Sanchez. The latter also happens to be the only member of the Progressive Caucus to sign this thing. No black folks…You can argue that the Democratic landslide in the House last week wasn’t a mandate for sweeping progressive change but, dammit, it was closer to a mandate for Medicare For All than for Bipartisan Entitlement Reform, or some other Problem Solver No Labels Third Way crapola masquerading as legislative rebellion.”
What has Pierce’s dander up is the same nothingburger of PSC “strategy” currently setting my own teeth on edge. That is the group’s attempts to derail presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s return to leadership. To her everlasting credit, Pelosi seems no more bothered by this group of clowns than a mild itch. That’s because the longtime Californian Congresswoman has built her career swatting away undermining irritants. Many of the male persuasion.
The PSC is currently singing one note – anybody but Nancy. Their arguments are basically: change…or something, new leadership or…well, we’ll figure out what later. It’s next to impossible identifying the actual problem this sorry rebellion solves, and more to the point, who might this proposed challenger to the demonstratively successful Pelosi be? To continue quoting from Pierce’s November 20 piece:
“This is why you dispatch the most effective legislative politician the Democratic Party has produced since Lyndon Johnson. New Leadership. Real Change. A Chicken in Every Pot and a Dolt in Every District. Who are the New Leaders? Won’t say. What is the political philosophy behind the Real Change? This isn’t revolution. It’s the Attack of the 30-Foot Banalities.”
The PSC faces other huge hurdles besides a lack of diversity and trouble articulating a purpose. The real harbingers of congressional change, the newly minted, diverse, progressive and often female(!) members of the Democratic caucus are perfectly content to cut deals in exchange for throwing their support behind Pelosi. It’s almost like the newbies understand that solving problems involves compromise, an embrace of reality and an understanding that lasting change usually happens in increments. Here’s writer Ella Nilson from Vox:
“Progressive Democrats in the House and progressive activist groups aren’t just supporting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become the next speaker of the House; they’re going so far as to talk about primarying those who oppose her…
This underscores the point that the opposition to Pelosi isn’t coming from the left; it’s coming from the party’s centrist wing. The group of so-called ‘rebels’ is largely made up of moderates who are members of the New Democrats and Blue Dogs.”
A coup led by mostly middle-aged white men, whose largest accomplishments involve the drafting of bi-partisan proposals on immigration, infrastructure and budget which crashed right into the immutability of right wing fanatics. How boring. How uninspiring. How behind the times. The PSC is the liberal(ish) answer to the Freedom Caucus, without the organic, kamikaze courage of its convictions.
The Problems Solvers Caucus’ only fundamental creed is a cynical nod to transcendence of country over party, serving to reinforce the cultural trope of the white male savior. The only true road to sober, moral leadership runs right through the Caucasian male middle – ideologically and geographically. What a scam. I might enjoy watching the PSC’s floundering futility a lot more, if it didn’t carry with it millennia of painfully racist, misogynist, subjugated baggage.