Should Democrats be running more moderate candidates for president? | The Tylt
With the popularity of politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic party is moving further toward the left. The current crop of candidates running for president represents this shift: Elizabeth Warren is running on a "wealth tax" on the wealthiest two percent of Americans, and Kamala Harris is putting her interest in immigration rights and criminal justice to the forefront of her campaign. Yet, some say Democrats should be courting more moderate voters. What do you think?
Should Democrats be running more moderate candidates for president?
Former CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz caused a kerfuffle in late January when he announced plans to run for president as a centrist independent. Schultz claimed he was a lifelong Democrat but has become disenchanted with the party, feeling many of their policies, particularly with regard to taxing the wealthiest Americans, were too liberal.
Schultz adds to a growing list of potential presidential candidates—mostly older white men—who consider themselves part of the moderate wing of the political spectrum. These candidates, among them Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg, feel the party has lost touch with what the country as a whole wants. The New York Times reports these politicians feel the party should make more of an effort to compromise, court conservative voters and stop trying to shake everything up.
[T]here are also signs of hesitation among some Democrats about shifting left. A January study by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Democrats want the party to become more moderate, compared with 40 percent who want it to grow more liberal. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that while single-payer health care is hugely popular among Democrats, half of the party’s voters want House Democrats to prioritize improving the Affordable Care Act over passing Medicare for All legislation.
Some politicos, including pundit George Will, have put forth candidates they feel could be more apt to defeating President Trump in 2020. Will wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post that Democrats should be looking toward politicians like Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who is ranked as the 27th most liberal Senator according to the Almanac of American Politics, to carry the party's banner. Will says Klobuchar will avoid many of the issues he sees as frivolous pitfalls of the party's liberal wing.
As the bidding war for the affection of the Democratic left spirals into inanity — “Abolish ICE!”; “70 percent marginal tax rate!”; “Impeach the president!”; “Pack the Supreme Court!”; “Medicare-for-all!”; “Free college!”; “Free other stuff!” — Klobuchar is the potential top-tier candidate most apt to resist forfeiting the general election while winning the nomination.
Many disagree with this hesitation, saying the only way to defeat Donald Trump is with a strong counterpoint to his conservative policies. Columnist Michelle Goldberg argues in an op-ed piece for the New York Times that the only candidates who can beat Donald Trump are those who present a better future, not a return to the past.
Democrats will not defeat Trump and his increasingly fanatical, revanchist party by promising the restoration of what came before him; the country is desperate for a vision of something better. Whether or not you share that vision, if you truly believe that Trump is a threat to democracy, you should welcome politics that inspire people to come to democracy’s rescue.
The Atlantic points out the makeup of the Democratic party itself has dramatically changed in the last decade. Along with that changing demographic has come a shift in policy positions and lynchpin issues.
There’s also dramatic movement on race, which may more than anything reflect the exodus of conservative whites as the Democratic Party becomes more minority-heavy. The percentage of Democrats who say that the government needs to do more to fight racism has risen from 57 to 81 since 2009. In 1994, four in 10 Democrats said that racial discrimination was the main reason black people couldn’t get ahead; in 2017, more than six in 10 did. White voters have moved especially dramatically, as Thomas Edsall notes: On both of these indicators, white Democrats are actually further left than black ones.
Centrists Democrats are then courting members of the party who may no longer even be there.