Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Democratic leadership, said that attempts to characterize Democrats as socialists is inaccurate and an attempt by Republicans to push voters away.
“There’s always going to be one or two members of any congressional caucus that say things that don’t represent the majority position. What I’m telling you is we pass legislation, that is the statement of where the Democratic party is in the House,” Maloney, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, told Politico on Wednesday.
He said that recent bills passed by Democrats don’t “[have] anything to do with socialism or defunding the police,” which was a rallying cry during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and riots.
Following the Nov. 3 election, an apparent power struggle has developed within the Democratic Party between moderates and the socialist-leaning ones. Some, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have expressed frustration with the party’s lurch toward the left. As a result, Republicans have been able to use rhetoric and leftist policies against Democrats in elections.
“We didn’t have a good message, I’ll be very honest with you,” Manchin told CBS News in November. “We let them [Republicans] tag us basically before we could remind the people who we are.” He was referring to Republicans and the Trump campaign’s accusations that Democrats have capitulated to leftist radicals.
The struggle became apparent when Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) reportedly castigated fellow Democratic lawmakers during a post-election conference call: “We want to talk about funding social services, and ensuring good engagement in community policing, let’s talk about what we are for. And we need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. Because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of it.”
Republicans in the House were able to make headway, gaining about a dozen seats.
Maloney in the interview, however, defended the hiring of Dyjuan Tatro, a former gang member who recently joined the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Tatro had suggested that police officers are “white supremacists” on Twitter following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, and he also appeared to condone looting during the riots last year.
“It’s a pretty extraordinary individual you’re talking about,” Maloney said when he was asked about Tatro. “You’re talking about deleted tweets that were before we hired him.”
“The man you’re mentioning, by the way, is the subject of a Ken Burns documentary. … The reason Ken Burns made a movie about him is because he turned his life around in prison and has been part of a bipartisan effort at criminal justice reform centered around particularly education in prison,” Maloney added to Politico.