17 Indivisible Groups Call on Senator Schumer to Step Up — or Step Down.
While Nancy Pelosi plays defense, Chuck Schumer just coasted to reelection as minority leader in the Senate. But looking at Schumer’s record since Trump took office, Schumer, rather than Pelosi, should be the Democratic leader facing scrutiny and competition.
In the coming weeks, Democrats will have several opportunities to use their leverage to push back against Trump’s extremism through a series of “must-pass” spending bills. Once again, Senator Schumer will have a chance to exercise some political muscle and lead, by, for example, blocking additional funding for DHS until abuses like family separation and this week’s tear gassing of refugees are stopped and fully investigated.
The question is, will he finally rise to the occasion? Or will he fail us all over again?
In September of 2017, Senator Schumer promised a coalition of New York Indivisible groups that he would hold a town hall so that his constituents could share their concerns, questions, and fears. Yet over a year later, he has still not held a town hall. He did schedule one for last July, right before the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, but he cancelled the event at the last minute due to travel issues, and replaced it with a telephone “town hall.” Senator Schumer literally phoned it in, instead of rescheduling this lone opportunity to meet with constituents in person.
Perhaps if Senator Schumer had listened to his constituents and held a town hall, he would better understand the urgency and outrage motivating the Democratic base in these dire times, so he could act accordingly. Instead, he has spent the last two years insulating himself from voters’ criticism while embracing corporatism as an ethos and conciliation as a strategy. He has even been widely reported to consult an imaginary family of constituents before making decisions, while neglecting his real constituents.
Chuck Schumer is out of touch, and there are far too many examples of exactly how far out of touch he is.
Twice he allowed Mitch McConnell to fast-track Trump’s hand-picked conservative judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, in exchange for a few extra days of recess. He allowed disunity in his caucus in response to Brett Kavanaugh, a man credibly accused of attempted rape, who believes the President is above the law, who will undermine healthcare and the future of our planet, along with workers’ rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, and consumer protections, and who the American people overwhelmingly rejected in the polls. Similarly, he allowed caucus members to vote in favor of Gina Haspel, who aided and abetted torture, even though Democrats had the power to block her appointment thanks to Republican opposition. Part of his job as minority leader is to define what Democrats stand for. We would like to be able to say unequivocally that Democrats stand for workers, for women, for human rights, but with Schumer at the helm, we can’t.
Senator Schumer also almost immediately surrendered to McConnell in the government shutdown fight when faced with press criticism, making Democrats look weak at a time when young DREAMers needed him to stand strong. He then chastised a sitting Democratic congresswoman, Maxine Waters, for a mild expression of anger in response to an openly white supremacist president, instead of calling out the Trump administration for its overt racism.
He told us that all of this conciliation was to protect red-state senators like Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly. Clearly, that strategy failed. In 2018, there is no salvation in ambiguity or in pandering to Republicans. Voters and activists want authenticity and clarity, not slippery politico-speak.
Meanwhile, Senator Schumer continues to embrace and shield his corporate donors, at the expense of equity and democracy. First, he paved the way for a passage of a major banking deregulation bill, even though it was loaded with destructive anti-consumer policies. Then, just last week, the New York Times revealed that Senator Schumer has been protecting Facebook from the scrutiny of his colleagues, while at the same time accepting their cash. In fact, during the 2016 cycle, Senator Schumer received more donations from Facebook than any other member of Congress. This is the same corporation that is accused of security protocols so lax and breaches of trust so extreme that the Russian government was able to use its platform to help swing the 2016 presidential election against Senator Schumer’s own party.
Covering for monopolistic corporate donors and protecting banks is the Democratic party of the past, not the future. In 2018, a large proportion of newly elected Democrats made rejecting corporate PAC donations central to their bids for office. The next generation of Democrats understands that voters are fed up with the corrupting influence of money in politics. They expect elected officials to cater to voters, not donors. The next generation of Democrats also understands that we need a vision to tackle climate change before it’s too late, but in two years, as the most powerful Democrat in the country, Senator Schumer has failed to articulate any such vision.
Senator Schumer just doesn’t get it. Despite an outpouring of constituent pleas and grassroots activism across the country, he has disappointed his constituents, endangered our elections, failed his Senate colleagues, and failed to articulate a clear vision for his party. While millions of Americans are protesting, calling, canvassing, and organizing like never before, Schumer has been going about business as usual, lecturing black women about civility and cutting deals with Republicans. Given these failures, we question both his ability and his mandate to continue to lead Senate Democrats in these dire times.
Democrats won on November 6th because of activists like us all over the country. We canvassed. We fundraised. We phonebanked. We texted and postcarded. We worked tirelessly to elect Democrats who took bold positions on the issues, because we know the future of our country hangs in the balance.
Ordinary people went above and beyond to bring on the blue wave. We expect our leaders to do no less. Yet Senator Schumer has turned a deaf ear to our requests and the urgency of this moment. He has not gone above and beyond. He has not resisted. He has not listened. Instead, he has continued to cut deals with tyrants, cater to his donors, and avoid his constituents.
With human rights abuses at the border, increasingly dire warnings about climate change and Trump’s continued attacks on our Democracy, the stakes are simply too high. It’s time for Senator Schumer to step up, unify his caucus, reject corporate politics and join us in the resistance — or step down. 2022 is just around the corner.
Cosigned by: Indivisible Nation BK, Indivisible Harlem, Indivisible Brooklyn, NY Indivisible, 7th Resist, New York’s 2nd District Democrats, Indivisible Rochester, Fight Back Bay Ridge, IndivisibleSF, Indivisible East Bay, Indivisible Anchorage, Indivisible CA 34 Womens/Feminists in Action, Santa Cruz Indivisible, Indivisible Mystic Valley, Indivisible CA-43, Los Angeles, Indivisible St Johns FL, Indivisible Illinois