The Ever Leftward, Self Destructing Democratic Party

Carl Golden, senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, takes a look at the current Democratic candidates for President, whom he says are self destructing by pandering to a vocal segment of the party base that has abandoned the country’s mainstream.

As the two dozen Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for President continue to gleefully sink their teeth into one another, the portrait that has emerged is of a band of self-serving, self destructing politicians who have shed self-respect in favor of pandering to a vocal segment of the party base that has abandoned the country’s mainstream.

The campaigns have become a panicky, headlong flight to the left embracing ideas that as recently as four years ago would have been dismissed as loony and a guarantee of electoral disaster.

Should this trend continue, consider the following possible outcomes:

       *A party with no coherent message aside from “We despise Donald Trump.”

       *A nominee so bruised and battered by his or her own party that regaining credibility is problematic.

       *A party so far to the left that it risks becoming an out of touch fringe group.

       *A party in support of ideas which are anathema to most Americans and stand no chance of Congressional approval.

       *A party in favor of spending trillions of dollars with no way to pay for it.

And lastly, but most devastating of all, the re-election of Donald Trump.

Making a convincing case to the American  people that entering the country illegally should be decriminalized (essentially, an open borders policy), provide free health coverage to undocumented immigrants and abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is not a winning message.

Then there is the added burden of justifying forgiving $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, eliminating private health insurance for 180 million Americans and dumping everyone into a government-managed system and requiring all public colleges to be free.

The party’s lurch to the left began in earnest in 2016 with the surprising show of strength by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but the movement has picked up such strength that it has bypassed him and appears irreversible.

Four years ago, Sanders was an outlier; today, he’s in the party’s mainstream and has been supplanted as leader of the rebellion by younger, more militant personalities.

The ideological dilemma is attributable in considerable measure to the unwieldly field of candidates each trying to one-up the others by suggesting that opposition to far left demands is a betrayal of party principles.

Arguably, at least half of the current candidates don’t belong and should understand that a gracious exit is preferable to continued embarrassment.

The rules governing the next round of candidates’ debates will be more stringent and failure to make the cut undermines viability in terms of support and financing.   Leaving the race is not a requirement for them but soldiering on after failing to meet their own party’s conditions is pointless.  Contributions will dry up and supporters will look elsewhere.

The second and third tier candidates are easily identified, even those with some prominence; e.g., Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kristen Gillibrand of New York, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

All enjoy bases of support but have failed to poll above three points. All will likely succumb to frostbite in the corn fields of Iowa in February, if not sooner. The others who trail them are irrelevant;  common sense and sober judgment suggests abandoning their quests while their reputations are still more or less intact.

Whether the party can arrest the leftward sprint and settle on a nominee who can appeal to the moderate centrists in the party and the country is open to debate.

Of the top tier, only former Vice President Joe Biden holds the credentials and history of broad-based acceptance, the very qualities under siege from his closest competitors — Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Sanders, along with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The validity of the conventional wisdom that, for Democrats, success relies on running to the left in the primary and returning to the center in November will be sorely tested next year against an incumbent President who defies ideological description and marches to the beat of his own unique and unpredictable drummer.

Democrats are in striking distance of the White House and holding their majority in the House of Representatives, along with an outside shot at turning the Senate.  Their leading candidates all poll very well in head to head matchups with Trump.

If, however, the move to the left has placed the center beyond reach, the party risks irrelevancy,  fighting among themselves to claim leadership of a shrinking base disconnected from the national interest.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. 

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  • jeff s

    As opposed to the ever rightward Republican party?

    • raul the leftist killer

      Our president is not “right,” He’s not left, he has no politics, and is subscribed to no ideology.

      • jeff s

        He’s subscribed to the rightist ideology in most respects, whether he believes in it or not. And the party went way right even before him.

      • tiredofit

        Pro-military actions, anti-immigration, pro-tariff, anti-public spending, wants to reduce Social Security and Medicaid, etc., etc., etc.

        The only policy he has espoused that is not rightwing is infrastructure spending, but he has repeatedly refused to actually do any.

  • jeff s

    *A party in favor of spending trillions of dollars with no way to pay for it.”
    Sanders and Warren offer detailed plans on how to pay for it.

    • tiredofit

      And during what Trump calls an economic boon, the deficit and debt are ballooning by … trillions. The 2016 deficit was $585B, and in 2019 the deficit is $1.1T. That’s right, almost doubled in three years. In 2016 the debt was $14.1 trillion and in 2019 it is $16.9 trillion. That’s $2.8 Trillion of new debt during an economic expansion!

      We worry about spending trillions to help people live better lives, to become educated and more productive workers and voters, to be more informed and active citizens, but spending trillions for tax cuts for already wealthy corporations and individuals are fine.

      By the way, those numbers all come from the White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/historical-tables/

  • raul the leftist killer

    Interestingly The complete absence of an ideological attribution for the President is easily among his strongest elements.

    Politicians are ideologues. Because of that the solutions they seek must be shoe-horned into some ideological framework. This makes the persons slaves to the ideology and destroys the things they try to do because ideology like religion can not be the primary guiding principle for solutions to a Nation’s or State’s or even a Municipality’s problems. This is why almost all the solutions all through history by politicians have all produced more trouble than good.

    Our President is not crippled by some rigid fixed set of pointless ideals that serve only to underpin an agenda. He is a Pragmatist seeking the best most long term solutions for the Nations issues and Politics Be Dammed.

    IT’s possibly the central reason they hate him so. HE’s bad for the globalist pigs who have nearly ruined the world’s economies more than once and he’s terrible for the ideologues who never know what to expect from him and certainly can’t control him.

  • tiredofit

    “The campaigns have become a panicky, headlong flight to the left embracing ideas that as recently as four years ago would have been dismissed as loony and a guarantee of electoral disaster.”

    This guy is a “senior contributing analyst” for a public policy center at a public university, and this is what passes for reasonable study and criticism? “Panicky”, “headlong flight”, “loony”, “disaster.”

    And as recently as four years ago? Crazy ideas like universal health care, which has been in the Democratic Platform since 1948? That’s more than 4 years ago, and a public policy “analyst” should know this. $15 minimum wage that has the purchase power of the 1970s minimum wage? The 1970s were more than 4 years ago. Then there’s free public college, which was the foundation of “land grant” universities in the 1800s. Also, more than 4 years ago. Reducing emissions to address a huge environmental disaster, like Reagan did in the 1980s banning CFCs to protect the ozone and implementing cap and trade to address acid rain and expanding the Clean Water Act to protect rivers and lakes? The 80s were almost 40 years ago. Reducing the size, expense and use of our military, like George Bush I tasked Dick Cheney with doing in 1990? That would be about seven or eight 4 years ago.

    The Democratic platform has not flown into loony land, but have largely stayed put with policies that make a real difference in real people’s lives. What’s changed is that instead of people with knowledge and historical understanding, our pundits and “public policy” analysts are ideological warriors.

  • none

    As a ” moderate” Democrat I would like to bring the premise of this article down to the State level.
    Governor Murphy has moved so far left that he thinks it is fine to continue to ask for more taxes while still keeping lots of our tax money in surplus.
    His ” lefty” quest for a millionaires tax is simply a crusade that makes no financial sense.
    Then he punishes good cause spending to make his point. He also attacks other moderate Democrats for not supporting his far left agenda.
    To people like the far left Murphy moderate Democrats, not Republicans ,are the real enemy. Right now more money is being spend by Murphy and his friends ( CWA, NJEA) on knocking Assembly Democrats than on opposing Assembly Republicans.
    Mr. Golden is reading this right ,at both the national and State level.
    Moderate Democrats better start fighting back or they will soon be outcasts in their own Party.

    • tiredofit

      The only “left” thing you mention is the millionaire’s tax, yet that passed the legislature — including the Senate under Sen. Sweeney — at least three times under Governor Christie.

      It’s hard to “move so far left” by asking for something the “moderate’s” were willing to do before you become Governor.

  • LookingOutForUnion

    Yet more BS from this sites scared as hell Centrists. The simple fact is, the old Dem party of Clinton and Obama is dead, and until some of you boomers get the message that us 30-40 year olds of sick of your BS we will make your lives living hell.

    The US is shifting FAR more left than you are comfortable with, we get it. People between 18-40 are far more likely to embrace social programs like the New Deal were. Its time the Republicans and Centrists pack up shop. We are in charge now and we will just make your lives a living hell in a jail cell if you continue to betray the 90% of Americans fucked by your policies.

    • Algore Tech

      you aren’t in charge of jack shit, you lunatic….and you’re gonna find that out in the next election, punkboy.

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