As the Senate, at this hour, debates the Trumpcare health reform bill and Republican moderates stand as the key votes, it’s quite awkward that doctrinaire left-wing Democrats cheer GOP holdouts while they bash moderate Democrats in Congress who represent the key to the party’s future.
Liberal Dems cheer Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Petino of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as they represent the overriding votes to kill an Obamacare repeal bill that could eliminate health insurance coverage for up to 32 million Americans.
This anti-Trump #Resistance movement has urged their followers to relentlessly call the offices of skeptical Republican senators, urging them to stand firm in their perceived opposition to Trumpcare. At the same time, they plot a 2018 election coup to oust middle-of-the-road Democrats in the Senate and House.
Many of these Bernie Sanders disciples consist of Millennials with limited knowledge of political history who bash Baby Boomers, blaming them for the party’s woes. The new generation demonstrates little understanding of the party’s heritage of centrist congressional Democrats who served as key compromisers, pragmatists incrementally leading the way toward major legislative accomplishments on Capitol Hill.
Instead, the Berniecrats represent naïve ideologues who believe they can bring about free college tuition, Medicare for all, and an immediate $15 minimum wage. They’re convinced that America would have elected an independent Democratic Socialist from Vermont, if he had somehow won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016.
A liberal majority not in the cards
As Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast, a solid liberal, warns in a column today: “The party has a choice: It can have ideological uniformity or it can have a House majority. It can’t have both.” At this moment in time, pragmatism and problem-solving is dead within both parties.
Like the right-wing Tea Party of 2010-12, the left-wingers of today seek party purity, with litmus tests on abortion, gun rights and foreign policy that have limited the Dems ability to remain competitive in vast swaths of American geography.
In 2016, Trump won about 84 percent of the counties in America. In the November exit polls only 26 percent of voters identified as liberals, with 39 percent calling themselves moderates and 35 percent self-labeled as conservatives.
In raw terms, Tomasky warns that liberals refuse to accept the basic math that, to get to a 218-seat House majority, Democrats have to win in 20 to 25 purple districts. And that means electing moderates.
Yet, the various lefty groups out there have demonstrated, without conditions, that they believe the party must stand as a united, progressive organization that rejects – in fact, works against — all members of Congress and potential congressional candidates that do not adhere to their out-of-the-mainstream agenda.
Their latest form of outrage is directed at the news that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the arm of the party that works to gain House seats, is now building close ties with the previously ignored Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill.
“The DCCC has seen the light,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, a Blue Dog coalition member.
In previous election cycles, there has been little to no coordination between the Blue Dog caucus and the DCCC, but now weekly meetings occur between staffers on both sides of the Dem divide.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the New Mexico Democrat who now chairs the DCCC, said in a statement that the Blue Dogs have “been incredible partners,” helping develop a list of 79 Republican-held seats to target in the 2018 election. At least 20 of those seats were previously held by Blue Dogs, according to the caucus. Democrats need to gain 24 seats to take control of the House.
Half of Dem winners in 2016 were moderates
As Democrats are reeling from their series of election defeats beginning in 2010, according to Bloomberg News the Blue Dogs say the fate of House Democrats rises and falls on their success. The caucus grew to a high of 54 members in 2008 before they, and the Democratic majority, were wiped out two years later in the Republican/Tea Party wave. Of the 194 Democrats in the current House lineup, just 18 are members of the Blue Dog group.
Adam Green, co-chairman of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), a Sanders-supporting political action committee that works to elect left-wing candidates, said recently that the Blue Dogs are “milquetoast candidates” who inspire no one.
Yet, the Berniecrats had nearly no impact on the 2016 House elections after they had claimed their candidate’s superior popularity to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In the 2016 election, the Democrats picked up six House seats. Half of the new freshmen ran as Blue Dogs: Representatives Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
Still, the unsophisticated lefties express such unearned confidence in 2017 that they exert their opposition to the First Amendment – if it involves the kind of free speech that they abhor – in all kinds of settings.
In February, Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist think tank, faced outrage by liberal groups when he was scheduled to speak at a post-2016 House Democrats’ retreat. Third Way is a group that emerged from the moderate “New Democrat” movement of the 1990s when the party was in much better shape. At the House Dem gathering, the lefty audience did not want to hear a word.
The co-founder of the liberal PCCC, Adam Green, said that, in their view, Third Way represented weak “Wall Street talking points.” Other lefties joined in.
“Asking Third Way to show the way forward is like asking an ostrich to teach you to fly,” said Agenda Project’s Erica Payne.
65 battlegound districts in 2018
But Daily Beast’s Tomasky pointed out that Third Way, unlike the pro-Sanders groups that offer mostly political rage, offered a well-researched, liberal-sensitive report last month that explained the barriers to the Dems winning a House majority in 2018.
“I introduce to you a report put out last month by Third Way,” Tomasky wrote. “Now you can stop reading here if you want, because it’s Third Way. But it’s interesting, so read on.
“The report breaks 65 battleground districts down into four types: thriving suburban communities; left-behind areas; diverse, fast-growing regions; and finally, a dozen non-conformist districts that don’t fit neatly into the first three categories.”
The report has yet to register a blip on the radar screens of the pedantic left.
Longtime political commentator Cokie Roberts wrote last spring that liberal groups are stupidly urging the Dems to reject the political middle that traditionally gets things done on Capitol Hill.
In her syndicated column, written along with her politically astute husband, Steven Roberts, she concluded:
As one of those purist pressure groups, We Will Replace You, said in their manifesto: “The next crucial step is escalating our demands, and demonstrating that we won’t accept anything less than full opposition — by showing Democrats just how many people are willing to back primary challenges to Democratic collaborators and enablers of Trump.”
This harassment is beyond stupid. It’s suicidal.
… The math is undeniable and unrelenting: Democrats cannot take back the White House or Congress simply by building up large majorities in Brooklyn and Boston. Politics is always about addition, not subtraction. Condemning moderates as (Trump) “collaborators” and “enablers” will condemn the party to permanent minority status.
… Moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are an essential part of a functioning Senate. They are the dealmakers, the conciliators, the lubricators who make the legislative machinery run.