When the Progressive Democrats sat down with Congressman Jim Langevin right before the primary, our first question was simple. We asked if he was ready to commit to supporting Nancy Pelosi for leader of the Democrats. He said he was. We had heard rumors that Langevin was considering dissenting against Pelosi from the right, and we wanted to make sure there was no truth in those rumors. To his credit, Langevin was ready to quash those rumors in unambiguous terms:
But now that Pelosi is facing a challenger from the right, Langevin put out a deliberately ambiguous statement to Channel 12, a statement that carefully avoided backing our party’s leader in the House. Personally, I take Langevin at his word. I suspect he is still with Pelosi and merely bungled the statement. Yet there is the other possibility, one that should be chilling for progressives. Perhaps he is actively considering becoming a conservative dissident and voting against Pelosi. I sincerely hope that is not the case.
A founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Nancy Pelosi fought the conservative wing of the party on her way to ascending to the leadership of the Democratic Caucus. Under her leadership, Democrats seized the House in 2006, and she became the first female Speaker. While she enjoys enthusiastic support from most of her caucus, a few conservative Democrats have occasionally resented her leadership.
One of the few remaining anti-choice Democrats in the House, Langevin has sometimes taken positions to the right of the party mainstream. By and large, however, he has been broadly supportive of the Democratic Caucus’s agenda, and he has so far avoided major dissension from the right. Given the much more right wing Democrats that we face at the state level, progressives have largely avoided fights with Langevin, instead preferring to work with him on the areas where we agree and politely suggest occasional course corrections.
Opposition to a legislative leader is a powerful and consequential move, and conservative opposition to Nancy Pelosi within the House Democratic Caucus would severely cripple our party’s ability to resist Trump with one voice. If conservative members of the caucus refuse the whip and side with Trump, it will give him important validation from Democrats that he does not deserve. If Democrats ever give an inch to Trump’s dangerous agenda, we will make him more popular and empower a man who risks unspeakable damage to America. That is why it is so important that Langevin fix his public relations error and come out with a clean statement supporting Pelosi.
Langevin’s team has not responded to repeated requests for clarification.