The Democratic presidential primaries seem to be bringing many game-changing policies into the mainstream. Ideas such as Medicare for All and student loan debt forgiveness — once dismissed as impossible ideas — are becoming normalized by multiple candidates for presidency.
However, for every Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, there’s a Joe Biden attempting to sway voters away from these radical reforms in favor of keeping middle-of-the-road policies as the dominant force of the Democratic Party. A force that could very well be the defining factor that will get Donald Trump reelected.
The Democratic Party has always had a difficult dispute with two conflicting sides: those who wish to pursue more radical ideals and those who wish to remain in the center of the political spectrum.
The latter of the two sides seems to have the most support from the general Democratic National Committee for a very simple reason — that is the side that has been winning.
Even though the general public appeared to lean toward supporting the more progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders, the centrist candidate, Hillary Clinton, won the nomination and was even predicted by the New York Times to have an 85% chance of winning.
Anybody who’s looked at Twitter within the past hour can probably guess that didn’t happen.
While winning the majority of the popular vote, Clinton still didn’t appeal to voters in the same way that someone like Sanders did. He was still able to receive an electoral vote despite not being the party’s official nominee.
While there are many reasons why Clinton ultimately lost, it is clear one factor stood out: the ideology of voters began to shift.
The new generations of voters want more than just basic healthcare coverage or simple student loan relief programs. They want programs like Medicare for All, as it would provide comprehensive coverage to all Americans that goes further than the Affordable Care Act.
However, with fierce Republican rejection of these legislations, there exists a strengthened movement of Democrats who wish to hold onto power by compromising with the other side. By reaching across the aisle, they believe they can maintain political strength.
This is why you see a lack of support for legislation such as the Green New Deal, even though it would transition the country to use alternative energy sources and dramatically reduce carbon emissions: It did not have enough Republican support for the middle ground to be satisfied and was swiftly blocked in the Senate.
This system only works if both sides are willing to compromise, and as we can see through the Republican legislators’ response to anything left-leaning introduced into the Senate, the Democratic policy of reaching for the center is eventually going to tip the entire spectrum to the right.
Not only that, their focus on preservation of Obama-era policies ends up hurting the population when compared to more recent legislation. We can see this through Joe Biden’s constant plea to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which would continue to allow private insurance companies to prey on poorer families, rather than advocating Medicare for All, which would cripple the monopoly of private insurance companies.
It’s common to hear from candidates who claim to be liberal that it’s impossible to pass more progressive legislation. This is a ludicrous idea.
At the last presidential debate, Warren said “I don’t understand why anyone goes through all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”
If you’re a candidate trying to cling on to outdated, moderate legislation in one of the most progressive periods of time in human history — what’s the point?