We’re familiar, after years and years of it, with the idea of right-wing ideologues coming to Washington and having no idea how to govern. This is what has led to government shutdowns, narrowly-averted defaults on the public debt, and in general, a lack of legislative accomplishments despite Republican control of both houses of Congress. And we (well, I) like to think of the Democratic Party as the basically technocratic, let’s-do-what-works alternative to ineffective governance by the ideologically driven but basically incompetent Republicans.

But there is a wing of the Democratic Party, or rather the left, that would “govern” like the Republicans if given the chance. We saw this part of the Democratic Party or the left at work yesterday, when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House of Representative, was shouted down by a group of DREAMers critical of Pelosi for negotiating towards passage of the DREAM Act with President Trump.

“Come again?” I hear you say. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would the DREAMers protest against progress towards their goal, which is the DREAM Act?”

I’m not sure I can explain it. From the news report:

The group carried a large banner and chanted: “We undocumented youth demand a clean bill … We undocumented youth demand that you do not sell out our community and our values … We undocumented youth will not be a bargaining chip for Trump,” according to KPIX.

So if I have this right, the DREAMers are insisting that Pelosi not negotiate anything with Trump; that the DREAM Act should be passed without any concessions to the Republicans who oppose it and who control the Congress.

If you’ve been reading Letters Blogatory for a while, you know that I oppose President Trump and believe he is unfit for office, and that I support passage of the DREAM Act. I want the DREAM Act to pass, which is why I was heartened to see the possibility of a bipartisan agreement between Trump and the Democratic leadership in Congress. The emerging contours of the deal included passage of the DREAM Act along with new border security measures, but not Trump’s infamous wall. That’s a win. But it’s possible now that people with what I suppose are extreme views on immigration (the protesters apparently called for an end to all immigration deportations and for DREAM-like protection for everyone in the country illegally, not just the DREAMers who were brought here as children) might scuttle any such deal. Talk about ideologues with no idea how to govern!

The art of governance in America has always (or at least for a very long time) been the art of bipartisan compromise and accommodation. If we can’t do that anymore, even to accomplish very important policy goals, then we are in big trouble. I hope the Democratic Party will stamp out the kind of ideological, triumphalist, irrational politics we saw yesterday. Otherwise the Party runs the risk of being the mirror image of today’s Republican Party rather than a party that can actually plan and execute policy that works for the nation.