The Democrats Must Move Left In Order To Win Again
With the Democrats losing over 1,000 seats under Barack Obama in addition them losing the presidential election to Donald Trump with Hillary Clinton as their nominee, it’s clear that the current strategy isn’t working.
For some reason however, instead of making the necessary changes needed for them to be victorious in 2018 and 2020, they’re doubling down on the same failed strategy that just caused them to lose the election less than six months ago.
Earlier this month, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated that the current leaders of the Democratic Party are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — the same two people that have left the party in shambles. Last month, the Biden-backed Tom Perez was elected DNC Chair over the Bernie-backed Keith Ellison. At the same time, DNC members voted down a resolution to ban corporate donations.
Since the election, the Democrats have only managed to dig themselves deeper into the hole, without making any effort to implement meaningful reform at all. They’ve made a few symbolic concessions such as making Bernie Sanders Chair of Outreach and Keith Ellison Deputy Chair in an attempt to fool progressives into thinking they’re listening to them, but it’s not working. If Democrats want the support of progressives, they have offer more than simple lip service.
Some will counter that moving the party to the left poses the risk of alienating potential voters, however this is an assertion that lacks any grounding in reality. The uber-liberal Bernie Sanders fared far better against Donald Trump in general election match-up polls than the centrist Hillary Clinton, with him winning by an average of 10.4% compared to Clinton’s 3.2%.
A recent Fox News poll shows Bernie Sanders to be the #1 most popular politician in the country, with a net favorable of +29. Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who is now left with an even higher unfavorable rating than Donald Trump according to a Suffolk University poll. The leader of the Democratic Party absolutely can not be more unpopular than the leader of the Republican Party. That is a recipe for disaster. Anyone with even an inkling of common sense can sense that. Yet somehow Nancy Pelosi is unable to get it through her skull.
The Democratic Party is to the right of the American people. Public opinion polls consistently show that the majority of Americans agree with the policy positions of Bernie Sanders. 60% support the implementation of a single-payer healthcare system, 62% support tuition-free college, 78% support overturning Citizens United, 65% support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 74% support paid leave, 60% support legalizing marijuana, 57% support a ban on assault weapons, 59% support strict environmental regulations, and 72% support expanding Social Security.
Luckily, grassroots groups such as the Justice Democrats are working to remedy this situation and move to the Democratic Party to the left. They plan to do this by initiating primary challenges against incumbent, corporate, centrist type Democrats. Not only do the Justice Democrats have a remarkable platform, but they also require all of their candidates to take a pledge not to accept any corporate or billionaire donations.
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room however. What about red states? Will the Justice Democrats be initiating primary challenges there as well? The answer is yes. But won’t moving to the left even in red states ensure even more Republican victories? While a reasonable assumption to make, it’s simply not what the evidence points to.
Earlier this month, Bernie Sanders did a town hall in West Virginia, a traditionally red state. More specifically, he was in McDowell County, a county that went 75% for Trump in the general election. During this event, the entire room cheered when Bernie mentioned his agenda of raising taxes on the rich, implementing a single-payer healthcare system, making public colleges tuition-free, and improving infrastructure.
It should be also be noted that Bernie Sanders won the West Virginia Democratic primary by 51%, beating Hillary Clinton in every single county in the state.
Donald Trump won the state of Montana by 55%. On May 25th, there will be a special election to replace former Representative Ryan Zinke (who Trump picked to be his Secretary of the Interior). Democratic candidate Rob Quist is a member of the Bernie faction of the party and supports the implementation of a single-payer healthcare system, yet he is currently leading Republican candidate Greg Gianforte by 8%.
Moving left doesn’t lessen Democrats’ chances of winning. It increases them. Everywhere. Including in red states. The longer Democrats resist the rising tides of progressive populism, the longer Republicans will remain in power. Now is the time. The Democrats must move left in order to win again.