How the Democrats Went Nuts in Three Months

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks on Capitol Hill in 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
As centrists, they would clean up in 2020, but instead, it’s leftward ho!

The Democrats swept to power in Congress by campaigning in a way that has been successful for Democrats for generations. “Republicans will take away your health care,” they said, after having focus-grouped it. Now we are preparing for a 2020 campaign in which Donald Trump and Republicans can as easily advertise to the public: “Democrats will take away cows, and your car.” What happened to Democrats?

Back in November, it looked like Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House caucus had found the perfect plan for their party in the era of Trump: Avoid talking about impeachment and stick to simple bread-and-butter issues. Don’t tell swing voters that they are deplorable for having supported Donald Trump, instead, promise to protect the most popular features of Obamacare. Also, remind voters that Republicans cut taxes for the rich. Except for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ran in a deep-blue district, most of the boundary-pushing progressive candidates lost their elections. All signs pointed to the idea that Democrats just had to be the normal party, and the upper Midwest would snap back in 2020.

But progressives have decided to push the envelope anyway. Fearing a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, blue states such as New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia set about passing expanded legal protections for various later-term abortions. This led to the governor of Virginia’s unforgettable discussion about providing “comfort” to a child born out of a botched abortion before “a decision” is made about whether that child should live or be made to die.

The presidential campaign’s beginning has also involved a giant lurch to the left. Bernie Sanders consistently scores as the second-most popular candidate, and his competitors are trying to outbid him on the left. And so half of them have rushed to co-sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s non-binding resolution proposing a “Green New Deal” that promises to upgrade every building and vehicle to renewable energy and remake America as a Nordic social democracy in the bargain.
This is an absolute coup for Ocasio-Cortez and for the activists and advisers that have flocked to her. The Green New Deal was, until very very recently, talked about only in small policy groups led Democratic Socialists of America. Now leading candidates for the presidency are trying to adopt it as their own agenda.

However, it is also very likely a misreading of the electorate and the progressive outlook. Bernie Sanders is a man of the left, but his policy program and even his persona are in many ways nostalgic. They are the realization of a mid-20th-century version of liberalism. Sanders is still willing to say that open borders is a plutocrat’s agenda, not the penance America must perform for its cultural sins. The Sanders agenda would increase taxes, but his primary goal is to deliver more services to Americans, not try to bully them with regulation and progressive nudges into ditching their cars, moving to cities and giving up meat.

It should be easy for Democrats to run against a president with Donald Trump’s approval ratings and his mixed record of accomplishments. Nancy Pelosi seems to understand how easy it should be. If their message is “We’ll protect and enhance the features of American life that you love,” they can win. But Democrats are overreaching before they’re even in power. They’re announcing that the lifestyle of the deplorables must be targeted for destruction. Until they recover their sense, Republicans will rally.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Sinking Collusion Ship

The entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was always implausible. One, the Washington swamp of fixers such as Paul Manafort and John and Tony Podesta was mostly bipartisan and predated Trump. Two, the Trump administration’s Russia policies were far tougher on Vladimir Putin than were those of Barack ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More