Joe Biden’s staff nominations are early test of relationship with development

The Democratic left rallied around the party’s nominee but now warily surveying for top administration positions.

Joe Biden had a rollercoaster relationship with progressive organizations and therefore the left of the Democratic Party and there are signs that the connection is again beginning to fray now that his electoral conquer Donald Trump is receding into the rear-view mirror.

When Biden entered the Democratic primary field progressive groups were quick to criticize the previous vice-president for supporting the Iraq war and previously considering cuts to Social Security. The organizations cast Biden as an 'institution Democrat' who would fail to challenge a standing quo that had created the conditions for Trump. All changed in April when Biden became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Taking a cue from leading progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, these same groups urged their supporters to back Biden, warning that another four years of Trump’s presidency would do lasting damage to the country and therefore the planet.

Now, Trump defeated, the president-elect’s relationship with progressive organizations is entering a replacement phase, and therefore the groups are closely scrutinizing the president-elect’s selections for cabinet and senior staff positions for clues about his agenda.

So far, Biden has largely managed to avoid the smallest amount of desirable picks in progressives’ eyes, but there are already some early warning signs of tension.

That tension was on display late last month when Biden was asked Lester Holt whether prominent progressives like Sanders or Warren could be joining his administration. “We have already got significant representation among progressives in our administration, but there’s nothing really off the table,” Biden replied.

That answer rankled many progressives, who were quick to afflict Biden’s assessment. Justice Democrats, the group that recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to run Congress, and therefore the climate group Sunrise Movement responded during a joint statement, saying: “While we've been encouraged by a number of Joe Biden’s appointments and are largely relieved by who he has not chosen, we don't agree that progressives have already got significant representation within the administration".

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