As grassroots pressure on Democratic leaders to do everything in their power to stop President Donald Trump from nominating yet another right-wing extremist to the Supreme Court continues to intensify, New Yorkers reacted with fury on Monday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) last-minute decision to cancel an in-person town hall—a move one organizer said shows the senator is "out of touch with his base."
"Our country is in crisis and we need leadership. That means rescheduling this town hall and uniting his caucus against Trump's extremist nominees."
—Liat Olenick, Indivisible Nation Brooklyn"Our country is in crisis and we need leadership," said Liat Olenick, co-president of Indivisible Nation Brooklyn, one of the groups that tried for a year to get Schumer to agree to a face-to-face meeting. "That means rescheduling this town hall and uniting his caucus against Trump's extremist nominees."
Claiming that the cancellation was due to plane troubles—an excuse the event's organizers didn't buy—Schumer decided to call in to the town hall while his constituents sat in a sweltering Brooklyn synagogue, and New Yorkers made sure to let the senator know what they think of his performance as leader of the minority party.
"You've not played to win like Mitch McConnell has," one attendee told Schumer, a sentiment echoed by others at the event.
Stressing the importance of ensuring that the Democratic caucus is united in opposition to Trump's incoming Supreme Court nominee—which will be chosen from an already-compiled list of right-wing ideologues—organizers led chants of "Whip the vote!" and spread the hashtag #SchumerNoShow to express their outrage.
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) July 2, 2018
"Until he whips votes," concluded one speaker, "we cannot stand behind him as the minority leader."
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) July 2, 2018
While Schumer has indicated that he is willing to use procedural tools at his disposal to thwart the Supreme Court nomination process, activists are concerned that Schumer is not sufficiently commited to uniting his own caucus, given his refusal to do so in fights over the bipartisan bank deregulation bill and the confirmation of Trump's torture-supporting CIA pick Gina Haspel.
Schumer also failed to unite his caucus against Trump's first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. Three Senate Democrats—Joe Manchin (W-Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)—ultimately join Republicans in voting to confirm Gorsuch, who joined the court's right-wing majority in recent decisions to gut public-sector unions and uphold Trump's Muslim ban.
"Senator Schumer owes his constituents a real opportunity to ask him questions and hear the thinking behind his decisions as the leader of the opposition party," Shannon Stagman, a leader of Empire State Invisible, said in a statement on Monday. "We do not accept a telephone town hall as a replacement."