With three weeks to go before the potential “Blue Wave” election that could win Democrats control of the House, the scenario looks quite different than what the #Resistance movement anticipated months ago.
Few of the left-wing candidates, the disciples of Sen. Bernie Sanders that generated so much media buzz in the spring, are leading the way. In the end, most of these ultraliberals lost their primary elections. Outside of a few suburban areas, the nominees emerging as the Democrats’ best hope in November are moderates running in marginally Republican districts.
The Republicans’ successful gerrymandering project of 2011 in numerous states created many House districts that favor the GOP, but not by a large margin. If the Blue Wave is real, it will be moderate, middle-of-the-road Democrats flipping those seats in November.
In a broader sense, in statewide races for Senate or governor, the #Resistance movement is mostly out of the picture. A prime example of the left-wing’s failure is evident here in Michigan’s gubernatorial race. Establishment Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, despite a sometimes-shaky primary election campaign, dispatched the universal health care candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, by 22 points.
In a guest column for USA Today, Anne Kim of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) – a research/advocacy group that describes its mission as “radically pragmatic” – dismembers the earlier narrative that the Democratic Party was witnessing a 2018 overhaul, with a distinct shift toward leftist causes.
A surge among moderate candidates
“What’s happening is not so much a liberal surge, but a moderate one,” Kim wrote in her Op-Ed piece today.
If that prediction plays out in the upcoming midterms, watch for a big turnabout among the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who have been quick to embrace the Sanders wing of the party, advocating the “free stuff” approach to health care and college tuition, as well as guaranteed jobs or basic income.
The mistake these presidential hopefuls made was in assuming that young Democratic Socialists had come to dominate the party. In an August poll by Gallup, Millennials (those ages 18-29 in this survey) favored socialism over capitalism by a 51-45 margin. But Millennials still don’t vote in large numbers and, in a more recent Gallup survey, a majority said they know little or nothing about the congressional candidates running in their House district.
As Kim, the PPI director of domestic and social policy, points out, the left-wingers fail to face up to the crushing costs of their policy agenda at a time of extraordinary budget deficits, and they refuse to acknowledge that the Great Recession is over. Their narrow, ideological view is that average Americans are uninsured and unemployed – or at least underemployed.
Drastic changes not needed
But this view toward post-election problem-solving ignores the astonishingly low national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent that has produced an abundance of job openings. Very few adults rely upon minimum wage paychecks. In addition, some 88 percent of Americans have health insurance coverage and 77 percent rate their own health care as “good” or “excellent,” according to Gallup. What’s more, most Obamacare recipients are seeing their premiums go down, not up.
None of this is to suggest that President Trump deserves a big pat on the back, as he has benefited mostly from good timing. Nor do moderates believe that the Republican tax cut worked as planned or that House GOP incumbents are exhibiting anything but extraordinary hypocrisy in campaign messages claiming that they now want to protect affordable insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
The point is that the Democratic Socialist agenda is entirely out of step with America in 2018.
Here is now Kim summarizes the situation:
The Democratic Socialist agenda both misdiagnoses the nature of Americans’ economic anxiety and misunderstands their aspirations. Rather than a plusher safety net to catch them when they fall, Americans would rather see a stronger, taller ladder so they can keep climbing.
The progressive left’s platform is inherently pessimistic, assuming that Americans’ greatest economic need is to stave off financial catastrophe, rather than aspire to better lives. Yet a 2017 survey by the Federal Reserve finds that 74 percent of Americans said they were “doing okay” or “living comfortably,” and only 15 percent perceived their financial condition to be worsening. Not only is the progressive left’s messaging off-base, most Americans rightly perceive that they actually won’t much get help from what the Berniecrats offer.