- The Democratic Party needs to look inward: is it the party of Michael Bloomberg or the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
- Democrats need to decide what kind of candidate they are going to support in 2020.
- There is a division in the party, and strategists should work to ensure it does not erupt and result in a second term of President Donald Trump.
The Republican Party had a big tent. Then, in 2016, its fringe elements elected Donald Trump, leaving moderates politically homeless and Democrats both politically and emotionally disturbed.
If Democrats put the right candidate forward, they can, in one political moment, reclaim the presidency and begin the process of healing the nation – and its parties. But for that to happen, Democrats needs to come to terms with the split that’s happening in their own big tent.
The news this week highlighted two very different kind of Democrats. Earlier in the week came the familiar rumours and rumblings that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to run for president in 2020. (Bloomberg is a political independent at the moment, but reports have suggested he would run this time as a Democrat.)
We’ve heard this before. But the question of whether the 76-year-old will actually run this time around is far less important than the question of what the Democrats would do if he – or someone like him – does.
The answer to that question, of course, is that there is no “the Democrats” right now. There is the party’s left fringe, and then its more centrist counterpart. On Tuesday, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dethroned Rep. Joseph Crowley, a powerful Democrat who had been a 10-term incumbent.
Ocasio-Cortez self-identifies as a “democratic socialist” and espouses many views that differentiate her from other members of the Democratic Party. Some of those differing views are plainly contrary to those traditionally held by Democrats. Others are simply more extreme, fringe variations on the usual themes.
Some of her ideas are familiar ones: She advocates for gun control and criminal justice reform. But she also has called for Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee, without advocating a concrete way of paying for these extreme measures. Her solution to these sorts of issues: Tax Wall Street.
That kind of rich-oppressor versus poor-oppressed framework might work in New York’s 14th Congressional district, but it is sure to fail on a national level.
In states like South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, where Hillary Clinton significantly outperformed Bernie Sanders in the primaries, a more centrist approach, like that of Bloomberg’s, would still garner much more support.
There’s an added benefit to supporting a candidacy like Bloomberg’s: There would be cross-aisle support. A national candidate who runs on the same platform on which Ocasio-Cortez and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon are running will not garner meaningful Republican support, even in the age of Trump. But a Bloomberg type could attract all those Republicans and former Republicans who, as a result of Trump’s ascension, have found themselves politically homeless.
This election cycle will prove to be a season of choosing for the Democratic Party. There will be consequences either way. But when it comes to retaking the presidency, Democrats should focus on presenting a candidate who can appeal to people beyond the left-most fringe of their progressive wing.
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