Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) walks his talk. Perhaps he is what we once referred to as a “blue-dog Democrat.” He seems to truly believe the Democrats are still the party of the working class. After all, they believe they just elected “Lunch Bucket Joe Biden” as the 46th president. According to an interview with Salena Zito in the Washington Examiner, Ryan thinks Biden will move the party in a more moderate direction:
Ryan acknowledges members like Ocasio-Cortez have a much larger megaphone than he or any other centrist Democrat trying to do their best to represent his or her district. But he’s hoping Joe Biden’s megaphone is the one that prevails.
“In the election, I thought he did a good job, he fended off the energy stuff, he fended off the police stuff, saying we got to sit down with the police and law enforcement and the civil rights groups and take the temperature down,” Ryan said. “I mean, he had good answers to these provocations, and that’s why I think he’s got a real shot to rebrand the party.”
The civil war inside the Democrat Party is real. So far, it seems that those with the megaphone will win, to the detriment of candidates like Ryan. There is already evidence this is the case. The divide was noted in a caucus call after Election Day, and it seems Speaker Nancy Pelosi prefers to walk away from the problem, saying Democrats were given a mandate. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For Joe Biden to impact the direction of the Democrat Party, he would have to do what Bill Clinton did in 1992 to excise his party’s radical wing. Clinton rebuked comments by artist and activist Sister Souljah in a Washington Post interview that supported blacks killing whites during the Rodney King riots. Notably, most of Sister Souljah’s on-record rhetoric and that of Reverend Jesse Jackson, who supported her, sounded an awful lot like Black Lives Matter and their enablers sound now. Clinton knew this rhetoric alienated moderates and made the political calculation to disown it.
Today, no one in the Democrat Party is doing a similar calculation about the blatant racist and socialist rhetoric in the party’s radical left wing. For Joe Biden to moderate the party, he has to have a Sister Souljah moment of his own. He needs to denounce the Trump Accountability Project and those calling for some kind of truth and reconciliation process. Some of his radical members and members of the press also need to be told to knock it off. He would even have to tell Michelle Obama, who said Trump voters supported hate, lies, chaos, and division, to take it down a notch.
To be a unifier, Biden needs to be explicit; there will be no list-making. People of all political persuasions have a right to pursue gainful employment and their preferred policy positions. This is, after all, America, the country he vowed to return to normal. Nothing about this rhetoric is normal or American. But Joe Biden has not and will not say any of these things. He is a paper tiger at best.
If you need further proof Joe Biden is not going to stop the radical insurgency in the Democrat Party, you only need to listen to deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd noted that Biden had said the country gave him a mandate on COVID, the economy, climate change, and systemic racism. Again, he has no such definitive mandate.
Later in the interview, this exchange took place:
Todd: “Some people hear the word consensus on the left and they think it means you’re going to sell the left out. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this in an interview about her expectations on how the Biden administration will be to the left of the party, and she says, ‘the history of the party tends to be that we get really excited about the grassroots to get elected and then those communities are promptly abandoned right after an election.'”
“Let me ask you this, do you believe that she is going to be disappointed or not when she sees the agenda of the Biden administration in the first six months?”
Bedingfield: “No, I think that Vice President Biden campaigned on an incredibly progressive and aggressive agenda. Take a look for example at this climate plan. It’s the boldest, biggest climate plan that has ever been put forward by a nominee running for president. And now a president-elect. He’s going to make good on those commitments.”
“He spent time during this campaign bringing people together around his climate plan. He was able to get the endorsement of groups like the Sunrise Movement and the endorsement of labor for his plan. It’s a big aggressive plan. It’s the perfect example of the kind of big efforts he is going to make to meet this moment.”
First of all, the Sunrise Movement is an open socialist organization that calls for the end of fossil fuels and a complete restructuring of our economy. Labor leadership is with Biden for the PRO Act, which will cripple right-to-work laws and make it easier for them to organize. They are also buying his garbage “green jobs plan,” which is the same jobs plan Democrats have been pushing since the ’70s. Rank-and-file union members have been moving to the Republican column under Donald Trump.
This is because President Trump’s America First policies on trade, taxes, reducing regulation, and controlling immigration benefit the working, middle, and upper-middle class. These groups felt the positive impacts of these policies pre-pandemic. Manufacturing jobs returned, unemployment hit historic lows, energy prices stayed low, and people kept more of their paychecks. These groups received real wage gains for the first time in decades, and the housing market exploded. They want more.
Ryan and his moderate colleagues don’t realize that the political realignment that started in 2016 is eating away at their traditional constituency. Ryan took note because even though he won reelection, he lost his hometown, a long-time Democrat stronghold. If this is the constituency he still wants to serve, he would be better off changing his party to Republican. You can’t fight your party’s overall brand or its base.
Democrats are the party of the very rich and the very poor. That transition started during the Clinton years and was solidified during the Obama administration. Republicans were caught flat-footed until Donald Trump upended his party’s conventional wisdom. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and moderates like Ryan need to figure out where they stand.
WATCH the full interview with Kate Bedingfield: