So far Democrat anxiety has been kept to a whisper, behind closed doors
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading a growing Leftist Political Revolt. Yes, within the Democrat Party the energy and momentum is with “The Progressives” these days — what with the:
- Upset victory last month of rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the #4 Ranking Democrat in the U.S. House,
- The Buzz about Democratic Socialism, and
- The spread of the “Abolish ICE!” movement, to name just a few examples.
And so far, the Democrat Party anxiety has been kept to a whisper, behind closed doors and among the party moderates and big donors. But some of the party’s biggest major donors and fundraisers have begun to press Democrat operatives to look into what can be done to stop Sanders if he runs for the White House again in 2020.
Even Moderate Democrats are warning that ignoring the “Socialist Progressive” wing will lead the party to disaster in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections, not to mention the 2020 Presidential contest.
“The only narrative that has been articulated in the Democratic Party over the past two years is the one from the left,” said former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell recently to NBC News.
“I think we need a debate within the party. Frankly, it would have been better to start the conversation earlier.”
Pragmatism may be a tougher sell in the Donald Trump era, but with the 2020 presidential race just around the corner, moderate Democrats know they are running out of time.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try.
Earlier this month, a first-ever “Opportunity 2020” Convention was organized and held in Columbus, Ohio — by a centrist Democrat-aligned group called Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank. It was attended by about 250 Democratic insiders from key swing states.
The invite-only convention’s webpage read:
“Unlike a traditional conference, expect a stimulating mix of thought provoking presentations and interactive small-group sessions focused on the urgent need for the next generation of Democrats to offer a new social contract for the Digital Age.”
The gathering offered an alternative to the rising Sanders-style populist left in the upcoming presidential race.
Where progressives see a rare opportunity to capitalize on an energized Democratic base, moderates see a better chance to win over Republicans turned off by Trump.
The fact that a billionaire real estate developer, Winston Fisher, co-hosted the event and addressed attendees twice underscored that this group is not interested in the class warfare vilifying the “millionaires and billionaires” found in Sanders’ stump speech.
“You’re not going to make me hate somebody just because they’re rich. I want to be rich!” said Democrat Cong. Tim Ryan of Ohio, a potential presidential candidate, drawing laughs from those who were listening.
Third Way represents the Wall Street-wing of the party to many of those on “The Left,” and everything wrong with the donor-driven control that’s driven much of the Sander’s momentum. Thom Hartmann, a liberal talk radio host and Sanders friend, once called the group’s warning about Sanders “probably the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard,” before ticking through all the investment bankers on Third Way’s board.
But some elected officials in relatively conservative areas say progressives are clueless about what their agenda would mean for Democrats outside major cities and the coasts.
A single-payer, government-run health care system may be a popular party plank in New York City, where Ocascio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist, recently won a high-profile primary, said Iowa State Sen. Jeff Danielson, a firefighter who represents an area that saw one of the biggest swings from Barack Obama to Trump during the 2016 election. But, he added, “It doesn’t work in the rest of America … and I’m tired of losing.”
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic leadership who represents a district Trump won, invoked Richard Nixon’s “silent majority.”
“If you look throughout the heartland, there’s a silent majority who just wants normalcy. There’s a lot of people that just don’t really like protests and don’t like yelling and screaming,” she said.
And they worry the angry left will cost Democrats a rare chance to win over those kind of voters, including Republicans who no longer want to be part of Trump’s GOP.
“Republicans have chosen the far right, which means that they have ceded a good portion of the middle of the road,” said former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is considering a presidential run.
“The Democrats, in my opinion, would make a big mistake if they decide to run a base election and just say, ‘Our base is bigger than your base.’”
With much of the recent policy innovation on the Democratic side happening on the left, the “Opportunity Agenda” unveiled in Columbus tried to equip moderates with their own big ideas, saying the progressive agenda is out of date.
The conference agenda was based mainly on geography, rather than class or race, which are more popular on the left. It focused on trying to address the fact that cities are thriving, as rural areas fall behind.
As Democrat moderates in attendance said they feel they’re being drowned out by louder voices on the left, Third Way unveiled the results of focus groups and polling that it says shows Americans are more receptive to an economic message built on “opportunity,” rather than the left’s message about inequality.
“Once again, the time has come to mend, but not end, capitalism for a new era,” said Third Way President Jon Cowan.
“Our ideas must be bold, but they must also fit the age we are in. Big isn’t enough. If it’s bold and old — it’s simply old,” Cowan said.
Matt Bennett, Third Way’s senior vice president for public affairs, acknowledges that Sanders “had a big head start.”
Many of the party’s biggest stars, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Cory Booker of New Jersey, have already signed on to Sanders-backed policies like single-payer health care.
But Bennett said he thinks they’ll reconsider when they examine the details. “I think they were a little hasty,” he said.
The difficulty will be selling this approach in the Democratic presidential primary — to a base that has already clearly moved in the opposite direction.
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Source: Texas Politics