Once upon a time, not too long ago, there were several varieties of political creatures that inhabited the wilds of our country.
While some species have grown in number (“radical,” “crazy,” “loons”) others have been placed on the endangered species list.
I speak, of course, of “moderates.” There are many reasons for the decline in “moderates” numbers, including the fact that they were having great difficulty in reproducing. “Moderates” don’t seem to have the same sex appeal as they used to.
It’s like the decline of the saber-toothed cat compared to other large cat species that occurred 10,000 years ago. Lions and tigers were more successful at finding food, mating, and dominating their territory. Eventually, they pushed the saber-toothed cat to extinction.
Now, radicals, extremists, kooks and crazies in both parties have pushed “moderates” to the brink. And it’s very clear that the “progressives” in tonight’s debate will be fighting it out for the soul of the Democratic Party.
But whither the moderates? And who would you define them? Are they simply “less crazy” than liberals? Is there room in the Democratic party for apostates?
Two progressive powerhouses will be center stage for night one of the second Democratic debate on Tuesday. The party will be watching for Sen. Bernie Sanders andSen. Elizabeth Warren to mix it up, knowing that they’re treading in the same ideological territory.
But the two New England senators are longtime allies who don’t actually disagree on very much. The real action in Detroit could come from podiums closer to the wings, where a group of relative moderates — including several who are unlikely to qualify for future debates, minus a big splash — stand ready to bring the fight.
It’s often assumed that these “moderates” win in red states because their views are closely aligned with more conservative voters in red states. But is that true?
If the Michigan backdrop wasn’t enough, Tuesday night’s lineup offers a virtual tour of challenging places for Democrats to win. Among those joining Sanders and Warren on stage: Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Texas’ Beto O’Rourke, Montana’s Steve Bullock, Ohio’s Tim Rand Colorado’s John Hickenlooper.
A showdown between Sanders and Warren for the progressive mantle may be inevitable. But that doesn’t make it immediate, with potential disagreements on display not necessarily among the front-runners, but between them and the rest.
In fact, Buttigieg’s “moderation” is a myth. He’s mayor of one of the most liberal cities in Indiana. Also, it’s not surprising that a liberal Democrat like Klobuchar would win in liberal Minnesota. O’Rourke represented a liberal district in Texas. Colorado is turning bluer by the election and Tim Ryan represents a liberal district in Ohio.
So what exactly is it that makes these candidates “moderate”? Most of them support Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, free college tuition — how can any of these liberal litmus tests, and any candidate that supports them, be considered “moderate”?
They can’t, of course. The phrase the media should be using to describe them is “relative moderate.” Compared to a wild-eyed radical like Bernie Sanders, they do seem a little saner.
And maybe that’s the way to look at some of these candidates. They aren’t quite as insane as the AOC wing of the party. But it won’t be enough for almost all of them. No real Democrat cares much about “appealing to the center” of the American electorate” anymore. Now, it’s a race to see who can light the most fires and blow up the most targets on their way to the gutter.
And may the best nut win.