How Democrats in 2020 can make America great again

Democratic presidential hopefuls are scrambling to get right with the left — the party’s left-wing activist ideologues. Free college, Medicare for all, jobs for all, the big government “Green New Deal,” etc. Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez seem to be calling the tune.

Many of those activists glory in the word “socialism,” in an in-your-face kind of way. This is political insanity. Trump is eager to make 2020 a referendum on socialism. The activists fantasize winning it by just soothingly explaining that socialism merely means anything government does. Not true; but anyway, if that were really all they mean by “socialism,” and if their actual policies are so wonderful, then why not just advocate those policies without the albatross of so toxic a label as “socialism?” What branding genius. Might as well call it “Satanism.”

Michael Bloomberg has bowed out, judging that today’s Democratic party has no room for his kind of centrist moderation. But is that true? Is the broad base of Democratic voters really on board with the high-octane left-wing socialist populism? The Economist’s “Lexington” columnist (on U.S. politics) thinks not. While Republicans, by 2016, did go extreme en masse, the Democrats really haven’t. Their lefties may be the loudest; but the party is large; it contains multitudes.

Lexington points to the evidence of the midterms. Ocasio-Cortez was a fluke, not representative of most newly elected Democrats. Their voters’ main concern is opposing Trump, not a specific policy agenda. Indeed, most of them don’t see America as in a systemic or economic crisis such that the radical restructurings envisioned by the activist left are what’s needed. The crisis is Trump, and draining the Trump swamp will go far toward putting America right.

Of course, just being against Trump is not enough, and Democrats must be clear about how their administration will differ programmatically from his. But that shouldn’t mean veering far from the political center — a vast territory they should instead take this opportunity to seize.

Lexington thinks Bernie’s strong 2016 run was more about dissatisfaction with Clinton than support for his radicalism. And in November she lost not because of her policies but because of her personality and character image. So a different candidate, not radical left-wing policies, is the ticket for 2020.

Which brings us to Biden. If he were contending against a single white knight bedazzling the lefty activists, they’d likely overwhelm him. But their mojo is divided among a whole bunch of aspirants all trying to be Ocasio-Sanders. Biden would be nuts to join that scrum for the rabid vote, when he can instead grab the sober responsible center, practically all to himself. Which is where the party’s majority probably actually is. And against a fragmented field, he can mop up primaries with 30% of the vote (just like Trump did in the early 2016 primaries). Add in Biden’s aura of experience and gravitas, head-and-shoulders above all the rest, this is the path to the nomination. (Blocking Bloomberg’s path, the real reason he quit.) Biden offers the best prospect of steering the party out of its leftward lurch and preventing the nomination of a fringe-y candidate.

Many keep raising various points against Biden (not least his age). He’s not a perfect candidate. I used to be a Republican, remember, and was no Biden fan. But this is a perfect case for not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In Biden-versus-Trump, Biden’s defects are molehills as against Trump’s mountains upon mountains. Biden is basically a good human being. I see him as the Democrat best positioned to slay the dragon. I would vote for him with more alacrity than ever in my life.

As Lexington observes, in 2016 too many voters went for the crazy option, and some at least are repenting. They won’t be receptive in 2020 to replacing one kind of crazy with another. What’s wanted instead is not fire-breathing radicalism but rather human decency, a steady hand, the tried-and-true, the reassuring and comfortable. The restoration of the fundamental principles, the ideals, the values, that truly did make America great.

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3 Responses to “How Democrats in 2020 can make America great again”

  1. Lee Says:

    Much of the developed world already has lower poverty rates than we do in the US. Much of the developed world already has health care for more than we do. Much already has more affordable college education than we do. Modern-day US socialists are not Marxists nor idealists of some other sort, they just want practical ways to extend some basic services to more people. The current free-market approach that dominates in the US works in many settings, but not in every setting, and some significant government intervention is called for in these cases.

    Whether or not Biden labels his own platform as “socialist,” you will find that it will be productively branded that way by his Republican opponents, Fox News, etc. A candidate who stands up for “basic services for all” platforms will appeal to those who value compassion. A Democratic candidate who does not stand up for these platforms will not get many votes from Republicans or Democrats.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    Stop using the word “socialism.” Whatever it is you advocate, just stop using that word.

  3. ryan71 Says:

    I feel there is a strategy behind all the Democrats potentially running. It’s a simple strategy. Diversions and spreading of resources to cover the field.
    All these grand plans from the left are a good starting point. Just like an outline or first draft of any document. If we can actually sit down and have adult conversations about the grand plans maybe, just maybe, we can actually produce something of value for the American people. Yeah, I know I had a caveat- adult conversations!

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