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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Democrats Must Offer Bold, Progressive Plan While Holding Trump Accountable

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As Democrats retake the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, we speak with Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, about the future of the Democratic Party. The Democrats picked up more than the 23 seats they needed to flip the House, but the Republican Party expanded its grip on the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is poised to reclaim her gavel as speaker of the House, barring a leadership challenge.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Last night, Democrats took the House of Representatives. Republicans expanded their control of the Senate. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask Katrina vanden Heuvel—we were talking—we’ve been talking about this now split situation in the House and the Senate, and you raised the issue of the Progressive Caucus in the House. But Nancy Pelosi, unless there’s some major upheaval, will be the speaker of the House, and then the issue becomes to what degree will the leadership of the House allow the progressives to pursue, whether it’s subpoenas, whether it’s investigations of the Trump White House. What do you—how do you see the battle within the—

AMY GOODMAN: Whether it’s impeachment.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Whether it’s impeachment—the battles within the Democratic Party about how to go forward?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There will be tension and friction. I suspect Nancy Pelosi, after this win, stays in the leadership speaker position for at least a year or two but puts together a new leadership committee, new generation. I think she would be wise to understand that the House needs to do accountability investigations, needs to really use its subpoena power, but at the same time fuse it with what I was talking about before, that the House is doing the people’s business, is exposing the corruption that hurts you, that it’s not vindictive, but it’s about trying to right the wrongs that this administration has imposed on this country.

And I think there’s a way to do that, but I really think it needs to lay out—I think Rashad spoke of this—a bold vision, initiatives and markers that show that this insurgent reform war of ideas, which is winning in many ways—we saw it in the campaign—that that is reflected. And that will lift up the House more effectively than just hearings, hearings, hearings or disarray.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Wouldn’t passage even, for instance, of a much higher federal minimum wage by the House be an initial signal to the American people?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Absolutely, or tuition-free higher ed. I mean, a set of issues that speak to—politics, at its best, is about improving the condition of people’s lives. And I think the House needs to show that it is in that business. I also think you have, for example, in Elizabeth Warren’s very good Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, a roadmap for another issue that should play big, moving forward into 2020 and beyond, which is essentially a system that’s rigged. But you have, you know, people, low-income versus the very wealthiest. Look, take—

AMY GOODMAN: Arkansas raised its minimum wage.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Take on the tax—take on the tax cut that this administration and its enablers just gave to the wealthiest and corporations. It’s not playing very well out in the country. No wonder there wasn’t a lot of talk about it in this campaign. So I think there are a set of issues.

I will say one thing that the caucus is going to do and needs to do, the Progressive Caucus–build on what Rashad was saying. We need to build independent political power. And the mobilization we’ve seen in this campaign, you know, the door knocks, the retail politics, the door to door—the mobilization was extraordinary in local communities, grassroots, whether Georgia, Florida—though it’s heartbreaking, the Florida race. But the caucus, with its new center, is going to link with movements, which I think is critical, movements outside of Washington, and lift up their issues and ideas.

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