They came for the Speaker, and missed: Why the #ForceTheVote campaign failed so spectacularly

Nancy Pelosi

Peacock Progressives have harbored for years a wet dream of being as destructive to the Democratic party as the Tea Party and Donald Trump's white nationalist movement has been to Republicans. They saw a silver lining in the tightened House majority that Democrats retained in the 2020 Congressional elections. With just 222 seats in a chamber where 218 is the majority (though only if all members are present and voting), leftists believed that they could create pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get tactical concessions by having some of their "champions" withhold their votes for Pelosi for Speaker.

A litmus test among those concessions would be a floor vote on single-payer health care. The part of the political spectrum exclusively focused on replacing Democrats in deep blue districts rather than challenging Republicans decided that with a narrowed Democratic majority, Pelosi was going to need every vote she could get to recapture the Speaker's chair and that their proxies in Congress - better known as the "Squad" should use their votes for Speaker to blackmail Pelosi into promising a floor vote on Medicare for All, allowing it to skip the committee and markup process every other legislation must go through.

The tactic, if it could be called that, was always pretty stupid. The reason a single-payer health care bill has not been on the floor of the House is because it lacks majority support to pass in the House, not to mention it is sure to fall flat in the Senate. Putting a Medicare for All bill will not make it more likely to pass. All it would do earn Democrats reputation for wasting time with the fantasies of Peacock Progressives and make it less likely that President-elect Biden can reach bipartisan deals with a closely divided Congress on issues ranging from health care to immigration to infrastructure.

If the idea was terrible, the execution was worse. The half-assed attempt was organized mostly by the far left's podcast echo chamber, led by the host of the Jimmy Dore Show, Jimmy Dore, and former Bernie Sanders Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray. Dore and his accomplices never even made the attempt to engage members of Congress, or even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in a good-faith discussion. They also never bothered to recruit and gather support for a Democratic alternative to Pelosi.

Rather, they chose the path of running a #ForceTheVote campaign that, in keeping with its name, sought to coerce the few members they thought they would need. And if the people they targeted - that is, progressive members of Congress and specifically, the Squad - refused to go along with the strategy to blow things up without a plan to put things back together, the podcast left would simply browbeat and berate them.

They did try to make one show of force outside their Zoom screaming matches. They tried to put together a march in Washington, DC, to show popular support for this tactic of Pressure without Plan B. That's where it all went horribly wrong. Instead of the 'massive rally' that they had planned, fewer than three dozen people showed up to stand around in a circle and hear about the genius of this chaos "strategy." Don't believe me? Take it from one of their own.

That sad excuse of a rally demonstrated to the very members of Congress who were its target that the Peacock Progressives on the podcast left had no actual power and could pose no actual threat either to their future electoral prospects or to their positions within even the farthest of the far-left faction. It also showed them that making Pelosi conduct a fruitless vote on single-payer health care was not a priority for any significant number of people within the progressive movement.

In fact, the scantly attended rally may well have scared straight a few members of the Squad who may have otherwise fancied themselves a destructive force that could bow the most prolific vote counter Congress may have ever seen. It was quickly clear to them that they had nothing to gain from the significant risk that would be entailed in throwing the election of the Speaker into chaos, or worse elected, allowing a Republican to become Speaker.

While the podcast left was busy drinking their own kool-aid and mistaking it for strategy, Speaker Pelosi and her allies worked tirelessly to eliminate any thorns on her path to being re-elected. She offered a rules package that progressives could sell as a win, allowing the Budget Committee Chair to exempt from pay-as-you-go budget rules measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and those addressing the consequences of climate changes.

Although people like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez touted it as significant progress, I have pointed out before that single-payer cannot be enacted using COVID-19 as an excuse. A much more likely use of those exemptions would be the ability to enact Joe Biden's health care and climate agenda that include increased subsidies, a public option, and investments in green energy.

Nevertheless, it gave AOC herself, as well as the Progressive Caucus overall, the excuse to do what they wanted to do all along: support Pelosi's bid for the speakership. When the vote was over, every member of the leftist "Squad" in Congress - Ocasio Cortez, Rep. Cori Bush, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashid Tlaib - had voted for Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi's re-election was never really in question. The only question how much chaos the chaos-agents of the left would be able to cause with their pressure campaign.

Turned out, not much.