Columns, Opinion

2020 Breakdown: The people have spoken, and they want progressivism

After what felt like the longest and most excruciating election cycle in recent memory, the race has been called. President-elect Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris will become the next president and vice president of the United States. 

President Donald Trump is getting a one-way ticket out of D.C., and it’s finally time for Democrats to cheer and rejoice. Right?

Sorry to bring down the euphoric mood, but no — it’s not parade time just yet. Election night was not the overwhelming Democratic victory polls predicted. 

Although Biden was able to eke out wins in incredibly tight battleground states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania, Democrats in down-ballot races suffered significantly.

Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, shrinking their majority, and failed to gain control of the other chamber when they lost key Senate races. 

So, who is to blame for the party’s embarrassing showing Tuesday night? 

Progressives, of course! At least, that’s the takeaway from some members of the party’s moderate faction.  

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., railed against the progressive wing of the party in a call — obtained by The Washington Post — with the House Democratic caucus on Thursday, despite nearly losing her own seat in a tight race. 

“We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again,” Spanberger said. “We lost good members because of that.”

Spanberger also blasted the “defund the police” rhetoric, which has become a strong stance held by those who back the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Logically — following Spanberger’s framing, that is — if “defund the police” and “socialism” were the principal reasons for Democratic losses, it must have been the progressives who supported those movements who were rejected by voters and lost their races.

Spanberger’s logic has just one small kink: progressives didn’t lose their seats. Moderates did. 

All four members of “the squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. — coasted to re-election while incumbent moderates such as Reps. Kendra Horn and Joe Cunningham lost their seats. 

After 30 years in the House, Rep. Collin Peterson also lost his race in Minnesota, which is Omar’s home state and one that Biden carried.  

You could make the argument progressives only won because they were running in blue districts in blue states while moderates were running in swing districts in red states — Horn in Oklahoma and Cunningham in South Carolina.

But that wouldn’t be true either, because four progressive incumbents — Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Jared Golden, D-Maine, Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz. and Mike Levin, D-Calif. — were re-elected in red districts. 

It’s funny how Spanberger forgot to mention those pesky little details. 

She did say one thing I could agree with, though.

“I would hope that moving forward we will not just work to hold the majority,” Spanberger said, “but we will actually work to communicate to the American people that our policies are … what’s going to move this country forward.”

You are absolutely right, Spanberger. Democrats should focus on policy rather than the current kumbaya “restore the soul of America” messaging. 

So, what policies won handedly with voters across the country? you may ask.

In Florida — arguably the biggest electoral prize Trump won on election night — 61 percent of voters supported an amendment that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

In Colorado, voters passed an act to provide 12 weeks of paid medical and family leave.

In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana, while Mississippi also voted to legalize medical marijuana. 

In state after state, progressive ballot measures were passed by voters, making it clear Americans do support progressive economic policies. 

As Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent interview with The New York Times, election results across the country show “progressive policies do not hurt candidates.” 

Quite the opposite, in fact. 

“Every single candidate that co-sponsored Medicare for All in a swing district kept their seat,” she said. “We also know that co-sponsoring the Green New Deal was not a sinker. Mike Levin was an original co-sponsor of the legislation, and he kept his seat.”

If anyone is to blame for the Democrats losing seats in the House, it’s the moderates who lost. 

Voters rejected the center-of-field, Republican-like candidates who stood for nothing more than a return to normalcy. 

This messaging may have been enough for Biden to beat Trump, but it fell short for the down-ballot candidates who didn’t have the same kind of evil to position themselves against. 

The people have spoken and they want progressivism. It’s time the Democratic Party starts listening. 

One Comment

  1. Americans want fairness, compassion, and opportunities for all. They don’t want government to be overly intrusive and they don’t like discrimination. Those five things are core values to most Americans and it’s why you’re wrong. Every Progressive idea that extends past the common sense understanding of these five things will always be rejected by voters, especially socialism. Americans understand its principal flaws. It takes control away from citizens and transfers it to government bureaucrats, and as Margaret Thatcher put it, “Eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

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