The Squad Against Trump and Democratic Establishment

The United States presidential election race is an exciting political show; not only do candidates take part, but also other politicians who want to score political points. During this period, contradictions become more acute and conflicts between various interest groups in the country are more exposed. With the increasing polarisation of American society, which has in recent years acquired increasingly clear ideological features, populism has become an instrument of many politicians. Recently, there has been a certain diversification of the traditional confrontation between Republicans and Democrats in America’s bi-partisan system. Every US politician now determines his or her own balance between party solidarity and personal ambitions. The victory of the “non-systemic” presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 was a striking manifestation of this phenomenon.

In 2018, Democrats in Congress managed to exact small-scale revenge for their party’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election when they gained control of the House. The 116th Congress also saw the arrival of the so-called Squad, a moniker first used by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an Instagram comment on a November 2016 photo taken at a meeting of that month’s congressional election winners to describe herself and three other soon-to-be freshman congresswomen.

The Squad members – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) – really have a lot in common. First, they were all elected to the lower house of the US Congress for the first time in November. Second, all four of them are women, and third, they represent a new generation of congresswomen (the oldest of them, Ayanna Presley, is 45, and the youngest, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is 29). Fourth, each has an ethnic minority background – they hail from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Ilhan Omar came from Somalia; she emigrated in the early 1990s and received citizenship only in 2000. Fifth, the Squad members represent districts in the northern, so-called “blue” states, whose residents are traditionally thought of as more likely to be Democrats.

Apparently, all this united the first-time congresswomen and predetermined their ideological rapprochement. The New York Times wrote that the Squad supported the multibillion-dollar ideas of the Democratic Party in the field of green energy, universal health care, free higher education and others. At the same time, we can say that these proposals still remain at the level of slogans and lack any real legislative content.

On the one hand, the Squad participants express rather radical political views. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders, the veteran “left-wing radical” of the American political system, does not demonstrate much support for the Squad.

Moreover, the four members of the House are subject to very harsh criticism from the Democratic Party establishment. Thus, for the first time we heard about the Squad, when Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the lower house, said that the “four” did not have much support in Congress, despite active public activities. In fact, due to their lack of political experience, the four congresswomen have not had the opportunity to get broad support from the establishment. On the other hand, due to the fact that they hail from the younger generation, they all are quite effectively using social networks and the Internet to interact with voters. Moreover, after criticizing the Squad, Nancy Pelosi herself was criticized for attacking her own party members, and not Donald Trump, who in the eyes of the Democrats personifies the main threat to the United States. The president himself didn’t take long to come along with a crushingly famous tweet that every Squad member should go home to her country of origin and restore order there before criticizing White House policy.

The members of the Squad have diverted the energy of Trump, who commonly makes mistakes when posts tweets in this way. Of course, with his attack Trump provoked a wave of indignation and many expressed their strong support for the Squad’s participants. Their new reputation plays into the Squad’s hands, and other Democrats have cited Trump’s attacks to criticize the president in order to lower his opinion rating. In this sense, the Squad has become a new centre of resistance against Trump, whose participants are outsiders in the election game. Such resistance is especially necessary for the Democrats, given that no scandal has had a sharp negative effect on Trump's reputation. Last week, a third impeachment attempt failed. It was brought about by the President’s tweet about the Squad, which many in the US, of course, considered racist. Robert Mueller’s five-hour session in Congress on July 25 failed to deliver Trump's opponents serious reasons to take tough measures against the president.

It is noteworthy that in the fight against Trump the participants the Squad uses the same weapon that he masterfully owns – Twitter. During the president’s election campaign, the team of congresswomen will put its name out there more than once, and will possibly do so after the elections, especially if Donald Trump stays in the White House. During the election campaign, they will be able to provoke Trump to begin more scandals.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.