One of the biggest, bitterest, and most expensive political battles of the 2024 election cycle has emerged: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful, best-funded influence operations in Washington, is planning to go all out to knock the famed “Squad”—the small group of highly visible and popular progressive legislators of color, most of them women—out of office.
The most outspoken and unapologetically leftist contingent of the Democratic Party in national office, the Squad has been vocal in its criticism of Israel’s retaliatory assault on Gaza following the Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis by Hamas. Members of the group have prominently pushed a cease-fire resolution in Congress; it now has 18 signatories.
Their positions on the issue are hardly radical: A recent Data for Progress poll found that 66 percent of Americans support a cease-fire, as do 80 percent of Democrats. But AIPAC has trained its attention on these members to make an example of them. And it has spent heavily against a few of them before.
AIPAC wants “to make the statement this cycle that no one is safe from their wrath, that if you speak out, you can be targeted no matter how popular or how many cycles of incumbent you are,” said Connor Farrell, president of the progressive fundraising group Left Rising, in a phone call. “It’s extremely audacious.”
There are now seven indisputable members of the Squad—up from the original four elected in 2018. (Those are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.) In 2020, the contingent of progressive members of color expanded with the election of Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman, then the first male member of the group. In the 2022 midterms, another member was added with the election of Summer Lee. (Other young progressives who have since joined Congress and might more accurately be referred to as Squad-adjacent include Greg Casar, Delia Ramirez, and Maxwell Frost.)
Strongly activist-allied, the Squad members are staunch advocates for progressive causes that include Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, police reform, and student debt relief. Critically, all of them reject big-money backing, surviving on just grassroots support and small-dollar fundraising. They have quickly become some of the most well-known members of Congress (most are quite adept at using social media), and are equivalently reviled by Republicans (and some corporate Democrats) for their advocacy. [Continue reading…]