Message to squabbling Democrats: Ssshhhh

God bless my party, the Democrats. We could win the Super Bowl, and at our postgame ceremony we’d bicker about whether or not we should keep our team’s head coach for the next season. 

In a midterm election won on what voters were discussing while sitting at their kitchen tables, the Democratic narrative is now about “motions to vacate the chair.”

With a mandate to put checks on President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE, build infrastructure, reduce prescription drug prices and get ahead of Republicans with a bold agenda, House Democrats are now fueling headlines about an inside-the-Beltway leadership brawl. Instead of talking about moving the country forward, do we really want to focus on motions to recommit?


To my former House colleagues: Congratulations, you won. Won big. You won suburban voters and, we now know from the pollster Stanley Greenberg, you took vote share away from Republicans with white working-class and rural voters. Ten percent of those Trump voters voted for House Democrats. You won seats in South Carolina and Georgia, and a clean sweep of Orange County, Calif., for God’s sake. Democrats won a broad grassroots repudiation of the Trump agenda.

Stop blaming each other for your victory.

To be fair, most of the House Democrats agitating for change have legitimate and important points, and going into a leadership election is when they can negotiate. A smart transition to the next generation of leaders is necessary. The tyrannical House rules followed by Republicans, which marginalized the Democratic minority, must be reformed. Members with less seniority deserve more influence. We need to open up the process, empower bipartisan coalitions — and do these things sooner rather than later.

But why so loud? Why does the party that is often criticized for not having a message now trumpet its discord beyond the Beltway?

Why ratchet up the argument about deposing Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says Trump sanctions package on Turkey 'falls very short' Graham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE as House Speaker before it’s clearly established who has the skillset to replace her? It will take some time to find the right person who can maintain caucus unity, negotiate effectively with the Senate, raise the funds and travel incessantly to build a majority made up of moderates and progressives alike.


Why circulate letters demanding pledges against Pelosi — a move that puts newly elected Democratic House members in a political vice in their districts? As one told me, “I really wanted my first few weeks to be about bills I was going to introduce. Instead I’m getting hounded about whether I signed a damned letter.”

So maybe a softer airing of grievances is in order. I realize that the hardcore “Never Nancy” crowd won’t throttle back. But for the sake of keeping faith with voters by focusing on their real concerns, maybe this fight should be a little less public. 

Sure, negotiate about procedure, but remember that voters care more about progress.

And begin a leadership transition by showing us what you can do, not how many votes you can deny. 

House Democrats just saved the country in the midterms. They can’t surrender it in two years by losing their grip.

And please, please, please, don’t ever go to a town hall and use the words “motion to recommit.”

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout What makes Adam Schiff tick? The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years. He served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is a novelist whose latest book is “Big Guns.” You can follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael and on Facebook @RepSteveIsrael.