Democrats who define themselves as “moderates” met in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to strategize on ways to counter the growing influence of the radical left of the Democratic Party.
Simply put, they’re frightened of the direction their party is going and many say they’re tired of being a minority party.
Pragmatism may be a tougher sell in the Donald Trump-era, but with the 2020 presidential race just around the corner, moderate Democrats know they are running out of time to reassert themselves.
The gathering here was just that — an effort to offer an attractive alternative to the rising Sanders-style populist left in the upcoming presidential race. Where progressives see a rare opportunity to capitalize on an energized Democratic base, moderates see a better chance to win over Republicans turned off by Trump.
The fact that a billionaire real estate developer, Winston Fisher, co-cohosted the event and addressed attendees twice underscored that this group is not interested in the class warfare vilifying the “millionaires and billionaires” found in Sanders’ stump speech.
“You’re not going to make me hate somebody just because they’re rich. I want to be rich!” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a potential presidential candidate, said Friday to laughs.
Good luck with that, Tim. The guts of your party wants to set up a guillotine on the Washington mall and execute the rich, devout Christians, Trump supporters, and basically anyone who disagrees with them.
But these “moderate” Democrats — many representing districts won by Trump in 2016 — clearly see the danger and are warning the party that the Sanders/Ocascio-Cortez agenda won’t play in the heartland:
Single-payer, government-run health care may be a popular party plank in New York City, where Ocascio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist, recently won a high-profile primary, Danielson said, adding, “But it does not work in the rest of America … and I’m tired of losing.”
Moderates said they feel they’re being drowned out by louder voices on the left.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., a member of House Democratic leadership who represents a district Trump won, invoked Richard Nixon’s “silent majority.”
“If you look throughout the heartland, there’s a silent majority who just wants normalcy. Who wants to see that people are going out to Washington to fight for them in a civil way and get something done,” she told reporters.
“There’s a lot of people that just don’t really like protests and don’t like yelling and screaming,” she added.
And they worry the angry left will cost Democrats a rare chance to win over those kind of voters, including Republicans who no longer want to part of Trump’s GOP.
Hysterical denunciations of Trump and Republicans may get Democratic progressives’ blood going but fall flat for just about everyone else. The radicals should also realize their social agenda is poison in most of the heartland. Aggressively promoting LGBTQ rights may play in many coastal areas and college towns, but everyone else just wants to be left alone.
Democratic voters in the Midwest are more open to voting Republican, which should worry the national party. If they insist on presenting a radical agenda to the voters in November, they shouldn’t be surprised if heartland voters reject them.