In the run-up to the 2020 US Elections, House speaker Nancy Pelosi expected a blue wave that would have seen the Democrats winning more seats in the Congress and Senate besides the presidency. While Democratic candidate Joe Biden did win the Presidential race, his party's seats shrank in the House. The senate candidates too could not flip as many seats to get the control away from the Republicans.
A section of the party blamed Pelosi and her centrist policies for the outcome while many expected her to be removed from the House speaker seat. However, Pelosi managed to hold onto her seat with a narrow 216-209 margin over Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. Five Democrats voted against her. But Pelosi, known to be a centrist, got the important votes from the more left-leaning members of her party that included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib besides incoming representatives Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush.
Centrists vs Progressives
All six members of the so-called squad, who represent a divide amongst the Democrats, were expected to go against her but they did not. Instead, Jared Golden (Maine and Conor Lamb (Pennsylvania) voted for two other candidates while three representatives — Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey), Elissa Slotkin (Michigan) and Abigail Spanberger (Virginia) voted present.
The left-leaning section of the Democrat voters felt betrayed by the so-called squad as they expected them to oppose Pelosi or at least negotiate the party's future roadmap. The squad supported many policies that were otherwise opposed by the centrist section of the party. The policies included Medicare for all, Green New Deal, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, free public college amongst many others. They were supposed to be the new face of the Democratic Congress with great influence over the voters.
Instead of going against the centrist section of the Democratic party and inflict change, their votes in favor of Pelosi didn't sit well amongst the left-leaning supporters who tweeted with #FraudSquad. Comedian Jimmy Dore said in a tweet that while being in a position of extreme leverage, they gave away their votes to the "most unpopular politician in America without getting anything for your constituents in the process".
Ocasio-Cortez, who has been the face of the squad with her fiery tweets in support of many policies and anti-Trump stance, defended their votes for Pelosi saying that they did it to prevent Republicans' attempt an electoral coup.
"In a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup and trying to overturn the results of our election, this is not just about being united as a party. It's about being united as people who have basic respect for the rule of law," she told Bloomberg journalist Erik Wasson.
However, many felt that they should have strategized better to replace Pelosi with a better candidate in advance. Otherwise, they should have, at least, demanded a floor vote for 'Medicare for All' in exchange for their votes. Political commentator Kyle Kulinski said Pelosi was hostile to the left-leaning section and should have done better.
"I'm sorry but there's no excuse for the left not to have organized in the last few years to mount a challenge to Pelosi. You know she's hostile to you and your goals and she has a 28 percent approval rating, what the f**k were you doing this entire time?" he said.
Some said the squad too conceded to the corporate corruption in the Democratic party. "It's a disappointing turn of events & reaffirms that we don't have an independent left that is willing to challenge the corporate corruption in the Democratic party," Ryan Knight, a social activist, tweeted.
However, for many, it was clear that despite the increasing popularity of more progressive socialist politicians inside the Democratic party, the centrists who always opposed the "working-class agenda" and opposed the left would win.
"I don't agree with the #FraudSquad hashtag. What I believe is that the system CANNOT be changed from within. I say that as someone who worked inside the belly of the beast and saw how it's designed to absorb, neutralize, and crush opposition from the left," Peter Daou, former Democratic party operative said.