The Argument For a Centrist Democrat In 2020
While much of the attention in the race for the Democratic nomination to date has been on the left, there is a path forward for a more centrist candidate.
While much of the attention in the Democratic race for President so far has been focused on candidates who are openly appealing to the party’s progressive wing, The New York Times notes that there could be a path forward for a more centrist candidate
Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive contemplating an independent run for president, stated it as a plain matter of fact: For someone with his views — a distinctly white-collar blend of conservative fiscal instincts and liberal social values — there is no suitable political party.
That would come as news to the eight or nine Democrats who may seek their party’s presidential nomination on versions of that very platform.
They call themselves moderates and problem-solvers, consensus-builders and pragmatists. Monochrome and male, they do not embody social change or hold out the promise of making history. Among them are former mayors, like Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; current and former governors, including John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado; and smattering of House members. Atop the pack is a former vice president: Joseph R. Biden Jr.
If they run, these Democrats would test whether there is a large audience of primary voters open to promises of incremental change and political compromise, or whether the ascendant liberal wing is now fully dominant, defining the party’s agenda around transformational goals like enacting single-payer health care and breaking up big banks.
In most cases, these Democrats are framing their moderate instincts in terms of political process — stressing their willingness to cooperate with Republicans — or fiscal and economic concerns, including sensitivity to private business and government debt. They largely agree with more liberal Democrats on issues like guns, abortion and gay rights, which once divided the party.
Mr. Bloomberg offered an uncommonly tart rendition of this cohort’s worldview in New Hampshire on Tuesday, warning that a “Medicare for all” health care policy would “bankrupt” the country. He also dismissed a proposal by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, to impose an annual wealth tax on enormous personal fortunes, as “probably unconstitutional.” Ms. Warren engaged the fight, branding Mr. Bloomberg on Twitter as a billionaire who wants to “keep a rigged system in place.”
If Mr. Bloomberg’s views grate on many Democrats, allies see it as a distinctive trait in a diffuse primary. Howard Wolfson, an adviser to the former mayor, said the current Democratic field seemed to invite a competitor closer to the center.
“We believe that there is a clear and sufficiently wide lane for a pragmatic candidate, and that the progressive lane is really crowded,” Mr. Wolfson said. “The pragmatic lane is relatively free.”
Polls suggest that somewhere between a third and half of Democratic voters see themselves as moderates, though the label is vague enough to cast doubt on the group’s cohesion.
That bloc, these candidates and their advisers acknowledge, could lose influence if a herd of self-styled pragmatists end up stampeding into the Democratic contest, atomizing the center even as progressive competitors carve up the left. It is also highly uncertain that Democrats, who celebrated the election of many women and candidates of color in 2018, would turn quickly in 2020 to nominating a white man with narrower governing ambitions.
In the early primary states, much of the action so far has focused on proudly liberal, potentially history-making candidates, including Ms. Warren and Senators Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
But former Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a centrist Democrat, said he saw a clear opening for a candidacy pitched at the middle, one that is attentive to matters like climate change but also sensitive to deficits and debt. Mr. Lynch named Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg as the two most compelling possibilities.
“I’d like to see somebody come in and make the case for electing a more moderate candidate,” Mr. Lynch said, “and I believe that if the Democrats want to beat President Trump, their best bet is electing somebody in the middle.”
Mr. Lynch cautioned that the chances for an avowed moderate would fade if too many people compete for the label: “If there are a couple of moderates, then they are going to take share away from each other.”
The road to the Democratic nomination would likely be fraught for any moderate, especially one who would not break a historic barrier by virtue of identity, as Barack Obama did in 2008. To some Democrats, a more centrist message might too closely echo Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign, which left many in the party determined to focus on mobilizing the left over pursuing the middle. And the most vocal Democratic factions have shown little interest so far in settling for something other than a liberal champion, on issues from taxation and business regulation to criminal justice and gender equality.
Polls of Democratic voters offer mixed signals about how liberal they want their nominee to be. There is no question the party has moved leftward: the Gallup Poll found this month that for the first time in decades, a majority of Democrats describe themselves as liberal, while just 34 percent now call themselves moderate. And taxing the rich is broadly popular, with a sizable majority of Americans believing wealthy people and corporations pay too little to the government.
“People have grown more liberal and more willing to call themselves liberal,” said Lydia Saad, a senior editor at Gallup, cautioning that ideology did not necessarily predict voting behavior: “The public is very fungible in terms of who they will accept as a leader, based on things that seem to go beyond ideology.”
Arkadi Gerney, a Democratic strategist who runs the Hub Project, a liberal advocacy group that has focused heavily on taxes, said that intensive issue polling had consistently found powerful support for raising taxes on the wealthy, not just among Democrats but also among working-class white voters in Mr. Trump’s base.
“The thing that was consistently the most popular in those experiments was: raise taxes on the rich,” Mr. Gerney said. “It is tapping into anger that a lot of people have.”
Yet there are also signs of hesitation among some Democrats about shifting left. A January study by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Democrats want the party to become more moderate, compared with 40 percent who want it to grow more liberal. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that while single-payer health care is hugely popular among Democrats, half of the party’s voters want House Democrats to prioritize improving the Affordable Care Act over passing Medicare for All legislation.
All of this comes at a time when most of the attention regarding the 2020 campaign to date has been given to candidates who are clearly seeking to gain the support of the progressive wing of the party. This includes candidate who have already declared their candidacy such as Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, and Kamala Harris, as well as potential candidates such as Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and, of course, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. As I’ve said before, all of these candidates will be competing for essentially the same segment of the Democratic Party as the race goes on. Some of them will be more successful than others, and more than a few of them likely won’t make it much further than the Iowa Caucuses and, maybe, the New Hampshire Primary. For those that are left, though, there will be a pitched battle for this “progressive” vote, which at least theoretically leaves an open path of sorts for candidates that aren’t quite so far left politically as the race heads deeper into the primary season.
This progressive cohort, though, only represents one part of the Democratic Party as a whole and not necessarily representative of voters that might be inclined to vote against President Trump. The other part of the Democratic Party coalition, and perhaps the largest one when you actually look at the numbers, is the one that voted for Obama in the primaries in 2008 and 2012 and for Clinton in 2016. Unlike the progressives, these voters aren’t hard-left, don’t necessarily support ideas like Medicare for All, “free” college, and other policy ideas that have become a common part of progressive Democratic policy positions in the years since the 2016 Clinton-Sanders race. Additionally, this “center-left” cohort includes those white, working-class voters in places like the Midwest that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 only to turn around and vote for Trump in 2016. As I’ve said before, the Democrats need a candidate who can speak to these voters as easily as they can speak to more liberal voters on the East and West Coasts. Perhaps one of the “progressive” candidates can meet that criterion, but the more likely thing is that this would be an opening for candidates such as Joe Biden or even Mike Bloomberg, both of whom seem to be leaning toward the idea of a campaign that doesn’t just speak to the progressives in the party and, in some cases, pushes back against them when necessary.
One of the lessons of 2016 was that the liberal epistemic “bubble” is much thicker than the conservative one. The echo chamber ecosystem is way more intense on the Left than on the Right. There was a consensus view that Clinton was going to crush Trump and then shock when it didn’t happen.
It makes sense when you think about it. If a conservative wants to hear liberal viewpoints, he need only turn on his TV. If a liberal wants to hear conservative viewpoints, they write an NYT piece about the safari they took the wilds of rural Iowa to encounter these Republican voters they’ve heard so much about.
The stampede of Dem hopefuls to the Left indicates that they’re still in that bubble, drunk on polls that tell them what they want to hear (e.g., Medicare for All is popular … until you mention the taxes to pay for it). I think they will still beat Trump, especially if the economy goes south. But I also think they’re setting themselves up for another Election Night of “How did that happen? We don’t know anyone who’d vote for Trump.”
Liberals will vote Democrats no matter what. The opportunity in 2020 — as it was in 2016 — is to winner over moderates who are extremely unhappy with Trump.
Whenever I’ve done any of those “where do you fall in the political spectrum” quizzes, I always fall on the far left. Yet I am pragmatic by nature, and not a huge risk taker. So I can support pragmatic small steps to get to a larger goal (e.g., a public option and/or Medicare buy-in as transition steps for universal coverage, rather than upending our current system all at once). I’m not sure where that leaves me.
I wish we could retire the word centrist from politics. Personally, I would much prefer to be represented by pragmatists: Someone who has a clearly defined vision about what type of policies they prefer (and is willing to affirmatively defend those positions), but is also honest that compromises will be necessary along the way.
Centrists on the other hand are usually not pragmatists, they’re cowards. They are so afraid to take a position that might make someone mad that they end up pleasing no one … and often agreeing to bad deals. The PPACA is an example of legislation that was made significantly worse by “centrist” Democrats in the Senate, who all ended up losing their Seats anyway.
To some extent, Hillary Clinton ran a centrist campaign in 2016 … and we know how that turned out.
@Hal_10000: I think you have a partial point about the liberal echo chamber. People have criticized the polls about the 2016 election, but the reality is, the polls were really tight. It’s just that very few on either the left or the mainstream media (which I consider centrist, not left – they tend to be socially liberal, fiscally conservative, like the folks Doug describes in this post) wanted to believe the polls. Nate Silver at 538 kept pointing out how close the polls were, giving Trump a 30% chance of winning, and people called him a negative nelly.
On the other hand, your comment here is kind of silly:
… because there are quite a few people on the right who never listen to or read anything by what they call the “lamestream media,” and people on the left have only to turn on Fox News (which is available on regular TV, not some premium channel) if they want to hear the right point of view.
That wasn’t just the consensus within a Liberal bubble. It was the consensus of almost everyone else in the world following the election.
I do not think it matters much how leftist or moderate the candidate is, pretty much the same stuff can get past the tipping point congressman or senator either way. So just go with whoever is most likely to win.
There is a very informative chart of the 2016 electorate embedded
here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/29/what-howard-schultzs-ludicrous-candidacy-tells-us-about-american-electorate/?utm_term=.4d62fa301de2 ..
and here: https://www.voterstudygroup.org/publications/2016-elections/political-divisions-in-2016-and-beyond ..
just 4 percent of the electorate are in the quadrant for socially liberal economic conservative.
45 percent are liberal both economically and socially. (Pretty much sure D votes).
23 percent are sure R, economically and socially conservative.
There is 29 percent that is socially conservative but economically liberal, I think these are the voters “in play.” I think you chase them by talking the bread and butter issues, health care, minimum wage etc. Don’t talk about the stuff the GOP likes to campaign on.
These must be the racists and the sexists…
This is one thing I wish progressives were a little more aware of: They are not the corrective. They are the flaw.
Increased access to health care, no matter what you call it, is favored by almost 3/4’s of the nation. Individual-1 ran on it (of course he was lying). That’s pretty centrist.
Tax increases on the rich are favored by like 75% of the nation. In fact, Dennison ran on tax increases on the rich (of course he was lying). Seems like that’s a pretty centrist position.
Increased gun control is favored by, like, 95% of the nation. Seems pretty centrist.
You can’t take establishment Republican positions, that are way, way, off the starboard rail, and use them to define the center.
Most of the people you are talking about are running on things Dennison himself ran on. Hopefully, if elected, they will stick to their promises.
Hal_10000 looks like his opinions come out of the right media bubble, there is no way the left is more epistemically isolated than the right.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
Trump’s campaign targeted the upper left quadrant of the chart I linked to, but he has delivered the desires of the upper right quadrant. (I.e., he campaigned as a populist, economically liberal, but governed like a Tea Partier, conservative all the way).
Of course, Trump is a con artist from way back, he campaigned on the con called “bait and switch.”
@Hal_10000: First, you are conflating “progressives” with the mainstream media, a very different animal. As Kathy noted, it was pretty much in all sectors where there was a consensus that Hillary would crush Trump. The MSM pushed this idea, as did many conservatives, including several of Trump’s rivals in the GOP primaries. (Indeed, I got the sense that the most vocal opposition to Trump’s candidacy during the primaries came from Republicans who believed he would lead the party to an electoral debacle. I heard this view more than any substantive disagreement with Trump’s positions.) One of the few who didn’t push this idea was Michael Moore.
According to reports, Trump himself was surprised by what happened on Election Night. Was he part of the liberal echo chamber too?
Second, have you forgotten 2012 when numerous conservatives were utterly shocked by Obama’s reelection? Remember Karl Rove’s meltdown on Election Night? Remember the unskewed-polls guy? The fallacy you’re making is to think confirmation bias comes only from lack of exposure to the other side. Conservatives may watch NBC or CNN (though there is much evidence that they largely don’t), but they dismiss what they hear on it as fake news.
People can want a moderate Democrat but the zeitgeist is saying a big, ‘no.’ Trump has pushed the country left, the GOP no longer exists outside of #Cult45, and we are down to a fight between rustic religious fascists on the Right and urban socialists on the Left.
The problem Democrats have is not with moderates, it’s with motivating POC, in particular making the case to Hispanic voters, and with keeping the women’s vote on-board. If you want to find a direction for the Democrats poll white women and Hispanic voters, because they’re going to be driving the bus. Health care, education and wages will top the agenda, and that is a Leftist slant issues-wise.
At the time that Sen. Obama ran for president in 2008, his voting record in the Senate was the farthest left of any sitting senator. Given the state of the two parties and the Trump Administration IMO it is very unlikely that whomever might receive the Democratic nomination in 2020 will be farther to the right than President Obama.
That means that the overwhelming likelihood is that our choice in 2020 will be between a Democrat to the left of President Obama and President Trump.
That’s a myth, based on a single misleading stat.
This talking point was based on a study by the National Journal, which listed Obama as the “most liberal Senator” in 2007. However, the same study had listed him as the 10th most liberal the previous year, and the 17th the year before that.
Moreover, Obama had missed about one-third of the votes in 2007 due to focusing on his presidential campaign–which dilutes the accuracy of this measure. Indeed, it was for that very reason that NJ didn’t even bother to calculate a score for McCain, who missed half of his votes that year.
Finally, NJ’s ratings have never been the most reliable measure of a Congress member’s liberalism or conservatism. For example, in 2007 one of the most “conservative” House Democrats according to their score was Dennis Kucinich. Why? Because Kucinich tended to vote against Democratic proposals on the grounds that they weren’t progressive enough.
In other words, what NJ calls “most liberal” is simply the extent to which a Democrat votes the party line (the same with “most conservative” regarding Republicans). It isn’t a true measure of ideology. So all this stat indicated, at best, was that Obama voted the party line more than other Dems in 2007.
There are much better methods of measuring these things. There’s DW-NOMINATE’s scores. There’s the scales provided every year by Americans for Democratic Action and the American Conservative Union. Obama was never the most liberal or leftmost Senator according to these rankings. The idea that Obama was to the left of, say, Bernie Sanders is absurd.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
To expand on this a bit…
I truly believe that if Individual-1 had actually done what he said he was going to do, he would be unstoppable. Big tax cuts for the middle class and increases on the wealthy, himself included. Great health care for everyone. Invest in infrastructure.
(Oh yeah…and make Mexico pay for his stupid fuqing wall.)
If he had done those things…on top of his base, that will follow him no matter what he does…his approval would be in the mid-70’s and only an idiot would run against him.
@charon: “charon says:
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 12:53
Hal_10000 looks like his opinions come out of the right media bubble, there is no way the left is more epistemically isolated than the right.”
Indeed, the comment sections at this site refute Hal. James and Doug are not liberals, but they are intelligent, so educated liberals like me come here to have intelligent discussions with people who don’t necessarily agree with us.
Everybody thought Trump was going to lose, including Trump’s own campaign. it was a freakish outcome. No one in history has ever lost the popular vote by 3 million and still won the electoral college.
Well I’m not sure anyone cares now but, notwithstanding all those surveys and polls that show otherwise, Barack Obama was a centrist Democrat in ideology as it pertained to most public public policy issues.
Predictably base and tea party Republicans vilified him a Socialist/Marxist Democrat, and the current president headed up the (racist) Birther Investigation of Obama, the premise of which was that Obama was not a legitimately elected president.
It’s well past time for Democrats to NOT let Republicans define their candidates.
The perimortem: Trump wins re-election.
Clinton did crush Trump. It’s just that the oddities of our electoral process let Trump become President anyways.
Dennison just admitted he’s going to let NoKo keep their nukes. Tell me again who the radicals are???
Trump beat Clinton by flipping OH, PA, MI, IA, and FL, winning 306 votes in the electoral college.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: and he’s insulting the Intel community for saying Iran’s not building nukes.
I never read the National Journal study or read it quoted. Back in 2008 I looked up his ADA rating.
@Monala: It leaves you in the same place as a lot of us. Living in a world where “hard left” is used by conservative and libertarian pundits as though it had meaning in an environment where a lot of those same people were calling Obama *socialist* from 2007-2016.
It’s not the fact that you are willing to compromise on your goals, it’s the fact that you want those goals at all that makes you”hard left.” Why, according to our friend Tyrell, you’re probably one of those people “so far out in left field that they’re not even in the stadium parking lot anymore.”
And given that fact in consideration of how Obama actually governed, what does it tell us about the American political spectrum vis a vis the terms “left” and “right” relative to a real world spectrum that would encompass all points of view/policy options ranging from left to right?
Indeed they are…
Things like this should help them with that…Republicans really are pathetic…
Oh sure…if the Democrats want to beat Trump, maybe Joe Manchin should run for president…
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: Yeah, but his commitment is to the con, not to following what might have actually been a decent agenda.
Huh? He had the lowest liberal score of any Democrat that year: 45% (which, again, I bet was a reflection of his missing a lot of votes).
@An Interested Party:
If you want to beat Trump, you’re going to have to convince some of his voters to vote for your candidate.
So go with some lefty dream candidate, then, see what happens.
@James Pearce: “If you want to beat Trump, you’re going to have to convince some of his voters to vote for your candidate.”
Actually, no. Not saying that wouldn’t be a plus, but if you simply got the Democratic voters who stayed home and didn’t vote at all that year, Trump would be toast.
A two point victory is odd definition of “crush”. Everyone seems to be confusing the polling data — which showed an advantage for Clinton — and the media consensus — which was that Trump had no chance. Remember Time’s cover “Total Meltdown”? Remember how Clinton was not only going to win, she was going to win in a landslide? Remember how her campaign believed it so much they had here campaigning in places like Arizona hoping to run up the score instead of solidifying her flank in the midwest? Remember when Nate Silver said Trump had a one-in-three chance and was vilified for it? Which side as more shocked by what happened on election night? Democrats were so convinced it was an illusion they threw millions at Jill Stein to do … something. And there are still Clinton dead-enders who claim the election was stolen.
Thanks for proving my points, guys.
LOL. You’re talking to someone who spends way more time criticizing Trump than the Dems and regularly slams conservative talking head for living in a fantasy world. Do try to keep up. The conservative epistemic closure is bad. The liberal epistemic closure is so tight that most liberals don’t even realize it exists. They’re just convinced that they are right and everyone recognizes this.
@wr: Democrats beat the shit out of Republicans two months ago without reorienting the party towards racist white elderly rubes. I’m pretty sure they’ll do just fine in 2020 too. Trump voters are the most entitled demographic in the country, and I’ve got bad news for them about the future 😀
the only thing that would give Trump even a smidgen of hope for reelection would be a serious terrorist attack next year, followed by a glorious invasion of some demonizeable enemy.
Even then, I think he’d probably still lose. That’s why so many Democrats are jumping in already.
It would also be a mistake to confuse people who voted for Trump (ie Trump voters) with Trump’s base. It’s a certainty some people who voted for Trump will vote for Generic Democrat in 2020 (and for Generic Starbucks CEO, too).
Democrats won by picking up a lot of centrist voters who went for Trump in 2016. They also picked up traditional red seats by running centrist candidates. The big change is not they suddenly got more blue seats in liberal districts. It’s that they moved a lot of purple seats and red seats over to their side.
The point is not centrism. The point is pragmatism, Democrats still have vulnerabilities with White Voters, Rural voters and with Men. Sure, Trump has such horrible numbers that even Dennis Kucinich could beat him. I don’t know, even Michael Reynolds or James Pearce could beat him.
But then winning the Presidency in 2020 just to lose control of Congress in 2022 and then lose the presidency again would not be productive.
@Kathy: this is a point that some people will miss. Democrats getting the votes of some people who voted for Trump doesn’t mean Democrats getting the votes of any of Trump’s base. There are a lot of people who just don’t know much about politics, don’t follow it, and make their decisions based on superficial qualities and what they hear from friends.
Democrats won by winning moderates in the suburbs. These Democrats are different from the old Blue Dogs that relied on rural areas of the South, but they are not liberals. Claire McCaskill had a point about Democrats that won by defeating other Democrats in the primary.
Also, from Trump’s election to Trump’s reelection vote, four years have elapsed, during which a chunk of Fox news viewers have died off and a chunk of generation z have joined the voting pools.
That’s an important point. People tend to see Trump voters as one big glop represented by the worse elements. That view is belied by districts shifting from voting for Trump in 2016 to voting Dem in 2018, frequently by double digits. Most Trump voters are moderate conservatives who are just used to voting GOP (or at least against the Democrats).
I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that. Schultz’s last 4 days have been worse than Tulsi gabbard’s. I doubt he’ll even be around in another couple of months.
A point that everyone overlook is how Hillary Clinton lost instead of Trump winning in 2016. If Dems have a bad candidate that’s only marginally better than Trump then that’s not a good political strategy.
It’s the essence of racism and bigotry to assume the people in any given group are all one piece. Like, you know, epistemically closed Democrats, or even Trump’s base.
@Monala: Senator Harris from California says that she favors getting all the insurance companies out of health insurance. I like my plan and my insurance company but there should be more than one to choose from. The last thing I (and many others) would want is a single plan: one size doesn’t fit all. More insurance companies are needed. If they want to open Medicare up to those who want it or can’t get anything else, fine. But they should have done that instead of assembling a whole new system and website (Affordable Health Care Act). So why not just tune it up? Rework the subsidy qualifications. Too many can’t afford it but do not qualify for subsidies. Put in some incentives for young people; many of whom did not sign up. Costs and pricing must also be studied. Hospitals will charge $300 for straws and a water cup*.
See: “Health care choices proposal: a new generation of health reform” Turner (Forbes June 2018)
*other ridiculous charges: father’s “skin to skin” contact with his own baby
teaspoon size of Vaseline: $80, single Tylenol pill $15
that little pill cup: $400 for average stay
Man cuts his hand: ER stitching $14,000!
I’m sure there are plenty of people who fall ideologically between Manchin and AOC who could beat Trump…
That’s an important point that I don’t see made often enough. And admittedly I’m not always clear on the distinction myself when I talk broadly about “Trumpists.” Whenever people invoke Trump’s oft-quoted remark about how if he shot someone on 5th Avenue he wouldn’t lose any support, they are frequently making this mistake. The remark, we should remember, was made during the GOP primaries when Trump’s “supporters” merely referred to the 30% or so of the GOP primary electorate who favored Trump over other Republicans such as Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio–only a small slice of the people who would go on to vote for him come November. The latter included the people in the MAGA hats, as well as ordinary Republicans who would have voted for anyone with an R after their name, as well as people who disliked Trump but felt Hillary was worse, as well as people who said “what the hell” and rolled the dice for the candidate likeliest to shake up the status quo. The majority of all those voters are not within Democratic reach. Some are.
Mathematically, of course, Dems could win without getting any of those voters, simply by getting better turnout from their side. But it’s a good idea not to write all those voters off. They didn’t in 2018.
Well …. wait a minute … ISWYDT. 🙂
Matt Taibbi on Howard Schultz
To do that, you’ll have to figure out why they stayed home last time.
And what are you going to do with the MAGA hatted youth?
@Andre Kenji de Sousa: Like the great General Sherman, on whose street I used to live, I will not run if nominated and I will not serve if elected. <—My only campaign promise.
@An Interested Party:
“Beating Trump” is the least of what we’re going to be asking this person to do. Don’t forget that.
For a lot of that 29 percent, abortion is the number one issue. They will vote against their own economic interests to try to prevent the murder of millions of babies. Our two party system doesn’t give them anywhere to go other than to the Republicans.
I don’t buy into the “abortion is murder” narrative, and I don’t think the Democrats should be squishier on abortion, but I think we have to be realistic as to what chunk of that 29 percent we can hope to reach.
Let’s just guess that 2/3rds of that 29 percent are unreachable because of abortion. That remaining 10 percent are going to need a very hard sell, as their friends are voting Republican.
I’m not willing to write these people off completely. There is still the only 1/3rd reachable because of abortion, so we are down to 8 percent. And the arguments are harder.
“Economically conservative” doesn’t mean lower taxes to the exception of all else, it often means that they don’t currently see the value in where their taxes are going. There’s a lot of “why are my taxes so high if we are putting tolls on every road in sight”
Republicans spend their lives denigrating the value of government, and the Democrats aren’t keeping up with showing the value of government.
JFK famously said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” He was wrong. People need to know what their country does for them.
And then there is the belief that government doesn’t do things well, related to the denigration of government. I think a candidate could thread a needle on this with a oft-stated view of “I want private industry where possible, but government intervention where private industry has failed.”
So, rather than your 29 percent reachable, I think we have 18 percent reachable, and that it is going to be a very, very hard sell to get more than, say, a quarter of that.
One reason I hope Dennison gets challenged within the GOP, is that given an economic downturn, or some blatant criminal act as a result of the Mueller investigation, he ought to lose enough support within the GOP to be severely weakened by a decent challenger.
FEMA Re-Education Camps.
@Gustopher: those camps wouldn’t even cost a lot of money, because while millennials polled as the most liberal cohort in American history, generation z coming up right behind them is polling as distinctly more liberal than them.
The center of MAGA gravity is exiting the voting population one long, high-pitched hospital machine note at a time.
A fair number of Republican voters would prefer to vote for a generic Republican than Donald Trump. Unfortunately, not quite enough to elect Mitt Romney, the most generic Republican out there. Trump is shedding that hold-the-nose support right now.
But, even if we crush Trump in 2020, I think President Hickenlooper (or whoever) is going to be surprised to discover that a lot of their support was just an anti-Trump vote, rather than a vote for them and their policies.
Republican obstruction will be rewarded by their base, and Hickenlooper will be hobbled and unable to deliver on the biggest, flashiest proposals.
We need someone who can change the dynamic.
So far, only Elizabeth Warren has made a good case for why government is important. But, she doesn’t seem to be able to hold people’s attention or control the direction of conversation. I’m hoping someone unexpected is able to run with her message more effectively.
And I don’t mean the 2% wealth tax.
I mean when she explains the purpose of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or how infrastructure helps people to succeed.
I would happily take less progressive policies for fighting back on the Republican campaign that government is just a waste of money.
Thankfully, they’re not old enough to vote yet…
Oh? Who’s this “we”? I’m sure for most people, beating Trump would be Job#1…
@Teve: Screen cages in a warehouse. Not that expensive. The whole “Re-Education” bit is just marketing.
Romney was running against a moderately popular incumbent president during a reelection year. Trump was running against the most unpopular Democratic nominee in history after two terms of Democratic rule. You can’t conclude Trump was a stronger candidate than Romney simply because he won and Romney didn’t. The surrounding circumstances of both elections were completely different. If Trump beat Hillary in 2016, very likely Romney would have, and by a wider margin (in the popular vote at least).
That “crazy far-left” idea of taxing income above 1 million at 70 percent? It turns out to poll well, 60-40 in favor among independents: https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/425422-a-majority-of-americans-support-raising-the-top-tax-rate-to-70
“Medicare-for-all” is somewhat weaker, but not the least bit in “what never? No, never!” territory: https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/412552-majority-of-republicans-say-the-support-medicare-for-all-poll
So. These are only one poll, not gospel. But I’m skeptical of the premise that this stuff is out of the mainstream and disqualifying. Times are changing.
@Andre Kenji de Sousa: And “the Blacks”…
If you would follow the link I posted and look at the chart, the upper left 29% quadrant has somewhat more red dots than blue dots, but not by a lot. Drawing a diagonal across that quadrant, the lower left half is almost all blue, the upper right half mostly red. The Dems were pretty successful in 2018 emphasizing the bread and butter issue.
The people for whom abortion is the overriding issue are mostly the Christian right, they are pretty much unreachable as habitual R voters in the 23% upper right quadrant.
I don’t think so. Trump won by activating a lot of people who are usually non-voters. Mr. Charisma Romney is not.
in all seriousness re the kids in the maga hats, I grew up in the deep South and when I was a teenager I was conservative / libertarian. However, I was very interested in science and in the next few years learned a hell of a lot of math, physics, chemistry, biology, etcetera so I was probably somewhere around 20 when I realized that conservative biology was a bunch of horseshit, conservative claims about pollution and global warming were a bunch of horseshit, conservative claims about cosmology and the big bang and even just the very nature of science were all just horseshit horseshit horseshit, and a few years later in college I had enough economics to understand that conservative economics was a bunch of horseshit too.
most of those privileged MAGA kids are going to go to college, and most of them are not going to leave the experience with the same ignorant stupidity they entered it with.
@charon: There is a long-standing tradition among Catholics to be anti-abortion but supportive of safety nets and immigration. I can imagine there are many religious Catholics (as well as religious people of color, from a variety of religious traditions) who are anti-abortion and otherwise socially conservative, but also economically liberal. We shouldn’t confuse white evangelicals, who are usually conservative in both areas, with all religious people.
If you want to see the most mind-blowingly idiotic conservative science, This page at Conservapedia explains that E=mc² is just “liberal claptrap”. 😀 😀 😀
What a choice – physicists or Book of Genesis. Tough choice!
@charon: Easy choice->science is always changing, so it’s always wrong, while The Bible is True Forever and therefore reliable.
(An actual argument some of them make)
Michael Steele and Len Leo were classmates of mine. I think stupidity is less vincible than you think.
@Teve: I was once banned from Conservapedia for my edits. Someone was going in and replacing the page on Barrack Hussein Obama with Wikipedia’s, and another person would restore it. And then I would come in, and change the phrase “allegedly born in Honolulu” to “born, allegedly in Honolulu” since no one was claiming he hadn’t been born.
I was banned for pedantry. I did appeal that decision, stating that it’s important that their insane conspiracy theories be respresented precisely and accurately, so that they could not be misquoted and used against them by the hated liberals, but they were not moved by my arguments. Go figure.
I have not checked my other edits to see if they were reverted. My favorite game was to search Conservapedia for phrases like “science cannot explain”, and then add citations to scientific publications that explained that. For instance, science cannot explain how puffins can hold so many fish in their beak.
There was a great article on Hydroplate Techtonics or Plate Hydrotechtonics or something that explained how the receding flood moved the continents, and distributed the species as Noah unloaded the Ark. I had nothing to add.
He also turned off a lot of people who do normally vote. Trump was, literally, the most unpopular candidate in history. That alone should have made the race unwinnable for him, except for the fact that his opponent was almost as unpopular as he was. This is crucial to understanding the race, as a lot of the votes for Trump were just as much votes against Hillary.
Now imagine it was Hillary vs. Romney. She’d still have been beset by all the negative coverage over her emails, the Clinton Foundation, her pneumonia, the attacks from the Bernie people. Meanwhile, Romney would have received mostly glowing coverage, would have been depicted as a unifying figure untainted by corruption.
The simple fact is that Hillary was in a lot more trouble than most Dems realized; the fact that a candidate as unpopular as she managed to very nearly win–and actually to win the popular vote–is a testament to how bad a candidate Trump was.
There’s a lot of evidence Trump underperformed relative to the fundamentals. Political scientist Alan Abramowitz’s highly regarded model predicted a Republican victory in 2016–and in fact it was the first time since the model’s debut in 1988 that it incorrectly predicted the winner of the popular vote.
It makes no sense to assume that a candidate as unpopular as Hillary would have crushed a far less divisive candidate like Romney. He didn’t need to be super-charismatic, he just needed to avoid becoming toxic. Very likely he’d have acquired a lead early on and soon run away with it.
@Teve: @Gustopher: A while back I collected some “gems” from Conservapedia: “The Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves the atheistic Theory of Evolution and Theory of Relativity.” “Public opinion polls show that despite liberal denial, one in five Americans recognizes that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.” “The homosexual agenda is the biggest threat to the right of free speech today.” [And I swear I’m not making this one up] “There are many compelling reasons to conclude that God does have a sense of humor…. there are many whites named ‘Black’ and many African Americans named ‘White’.”
There’s a definite element of Poe’s Law here, as it’s hard to tell how many of these entries were put there in earnest and how many came from trolls having fun with the site.
There’s another extremist Wikipedia knockoff site called Metapedia. Its viewpoint is neo-Nazi, white supremacist. It attacks Conservapedia for being creationist, neocon, and pro-Israel. (Can’t please everyone, I guess.) I’d never heard of the site until one day someone informed me it mentioned me–or rather the screen name I use on Wikipedia (Marbeh Raglaim). It had a special page called “Examples of propaganda in Wikipedia,” consisting of a chart listing Wikipedia contributors they didn’t like, termed “Enforcers,” alongside the sin or sins they committed. (The page seems to have deleted, but it’s still in the web archives.) Some examples:
“Marx is described as a ‘German philosopher,’ when he was actually a Jew.” “The epithet ‘dictator’ is used of patriotic leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet….” “The term [Christ] is left out to facilitate Talmudists who reject the Messiah….”
You get the idea.
@Teve: Schultz named his first coffee shop “The Newspaper?”
@Gustopher: Unfortunately, for a significant number of these people, “economically conservative” really only means “I’m sick of the government spending my tax money on things that I don’t want and can’t use.” The really well-intentioned tea party lady (Sharon Angle??) who ran against Harry Reid went on to explain that what she meant was really useless stuff like Head Start and day care centers and TANF and useless crap like that. Fortunately, the crowd she was talking to looked like it was largely 2-income working class families with young kids and single moms, so they didn’t invest a lot of time trying to see the wisdom of her thinking.
@Teve: That’s pretty much how it went for me too. My first votes were Republican down the line. I grew up in a very rural (and religious) area of a blue state that is only blue because of the biggest city in it. Bush Jr and some blogs like this one helped the transition along.
@DrDaveT: obviously stupidity can sometimes withstand college, particularly if it’s a fake Bible college like liberty University. But there’s a reason a lot of Evangelical Christians are scared of their kids going to college. They’re right to be scared.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ve been studying Italian on Duolingo for literally 3 weeks, so I just caught that reference in the nick of time 🙂
@Kylopod: ““The Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves the atheistic Theory of Evolution and Theory of Relativity.””
my undergrad is in physics, and I had a particularly rigorous thermodynamics class, so I get great deal of amusement when a creationist or global warming denier tries to whip out the SLoT. I start quizzing them about the relevant ∆S calculations and it becomes very entertaining very fast. 😀
huh. That one is new to me.
Just came across this think piece, numbers and tables and stuff:
. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-democrats-choice-the-midterm-elections-and-the-road-to-2020/ .
Here is what Jen Rubin had to say about the piece:
From a layman’s perspective, I know that entropy gets tricky when you add energy into a system.
I’m surprised they have it in for special relativity. Until recently, its impact was very indirect (these days so many people use GPS, that the impact is less indirect).
Oh, I know many people who find the “speed limit” of the universe offensive, and who blame Einstein for “setting it.” they don’t get that there’s no judicial review in science. That is, scientist discover, not determine, what the law is.
@Kathy: I confess I never heard of creationists questioning relativity until a few years ago, and I’m someone who grew up as a creationist. It certainly presents no direct or obvious problems for the Biblical creation story. (Indeed I’ve actually heard relativity theory used to reconcile 7-day creation with the modern estimate of the age of the universe.) I guess once you start questioning any of the foundational elements of modern science, it’s effectively opening a Pandora’s box: if scientists are so wrong about the origin of the species, maybe they’re wrong about everything else! Phillip E. Johnson, one of the founders of the “intelligent design” movement, has also dabbled in Peter Duesberg’s bizarre theory that the HIV virus doesn’t lead to AIDS–a theory that’s baffled me since I first heard about it since I can’t figure out the ideological motivation behind it. (I’m guessing there’s some homophobia involved, but I still can’t understand what point it’s trying to make.) I just think once you reject the authority of mainstream science, it makes you far more susceptible to crackpot ideas in general.
Relativity annihilates the core Christian concept of God. In fact, at age 16, sitting in a Youngstown, Ohio Greyhound bus station because I could not manage to hitchhike the hell out of there, I reached that conclusion. That’s what flipped the atheist switch for me.
Omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and unchanging, that’s what Lutherans at least taught. These attributes are by definition impossible in any relativistic system whether a physical relativity or a moral one. When A changes B changes as well. B has no power to avoid changing if A changes. Notions of unchanging super beings are therefore wrong.
If God is changeable then he ceases to be God and becomes merely a god, in other words a powerful being, not distinguishable in any relevant way from any average tyrant or bully.
And no such creature can have any claim to my loyalty.
That sounds more like quantum mechanics than relativity. Though QM also rubs people the wrong way. You should see how Objectivists froth at the mouth at Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
Every science has a theory that provides a kind of basic structural framework for the whole science. In Biology, it’s evolution through (mostly) natural selection. In Physics it’s Quantum mechanics and Relativity. So maybe they can’t object to one without taking on the others?
@Michael Reynolds: The speed of light is unchanging, no matter the frame of reference. So, I find your “there can be no unchanging god” argument to be weak.
It seems like an argument used to justify a conclusion you’ve already come to, much like Conservapedia’s science articles about liberal claptrap.
You can’t prove that there is no omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and unchanging God. You can only prove that he did not measurably impact the outcome of some experiment.
All we can show is that God does not mess with people’s science experiments — and we cannot show that as a firm rule, but as a general practice. He could mess with the science experiments, he just doesn’t bother (this, however, goes against the character of the Old Testament God, who was always screwing with people out of spite).
(And sometimes experiments have odd results that we attribute to human error, or the microwave oven in the next room.)
Also, if the vast majority of the universe is composed of dark matter and dark energy, which we can only kind of guess at the nature of, that leaves a lot of space for God to be hiding. We might just be assuming that he’s really interested in the “normal” matter we can see, while He views it as a weird little bit of crud on the side.
That’s not really the point.
The point is you cannot prove that there is one (or many).
@Kylopod: “Pandora’s Box”- one of my favorite myths, Actually in the myth it is a jar, not a box. And what came out? A lot of bad things. She closed the jar and one thing remained: hope.
A student talked to me at length about Pandora, the story, and the lessons. A nice story.
@Tyrell: Why did Pandora lock away hope? Seems rude of her, especially after she let all the evils out.
@Kathy: Michael’s point was his bus stop conversion to atheism, where his pondering relativity led him to conclude that there is no god — so I think I was on point.
(I was actually expecting you to comment on dark matter… an area where I think our theories have gone past our ability to test, and we may be wildly wrong)
There are many versions of the myth. One interpretation is that hope clings to the lip of the jar, refusing to come out, because its afraid or impotent. Then Pandora closes the lid
It bears noting Pandora was made by Hephaestus on orders from Zeus. She was the first woman(!) and Zeus had her made to punish mankind for having accepted the gift of fire from Prometheus.
Hesiod says in Works and Days:
Short version: we’ve no clue what the hell is going on.
I think there’s good reason to think dark matter exists, but it may be beyond our capability to directly detect and analyze it. This isn’t entirely bad, and our capabilities will change in time (not that long ago detecting radiation was beyond our capabilities).
But the evidence, as yet, is ambiguous. It may yet be gravity works differently at larger scales, or it may have other surprises. We really don’t know what gravity is, after all. Not in the way we know what the other three fundamental forces are (ie which particles produce and mediate them).
Think back to the late XIX Century and the Michelson–Morley experiment. Its failure led to special relativity and quantum mechanics.
I find it a little amusing how my offhand use of the phrase opening a Pandora’s box started a discussion. I almost said opening a can of worms instead, but it didn’t sound quite right to me, and I was bothered by having to resort to either cliche anyway.
This is sort of like the time last year when I was discussing the alt right and I made an offhand reference to an old punk rock song in one of my comments, and suddenly people started talking about their favorite punk music.
Where is it written that “moderate” = “pragmatic”? This sounds like a prime example of argument to moderation, a fallacy.
Dr. K has a good piece in NYT today pointing out that we are threatened by two groups of extremists, conservative extremists and “centrist” extremists like Schultz and Bloomberg, who live in as much of a fantasy land as Trump.
That was my starting point at age 16, and an exhausted 16 at that. I have rather expanded my thinking on the question of God.
There is simply zero evidence to suggest that such a creature exists and I cannot start believing in things for which there is no evidence. For example, I’m an atheist on the subject of leprechauns. Can I prove they don’t exist? No. But I’m going to continue operating on the assumption that there are no leprechauns because of the total absence of anything that suggests they exist.
I am equally atheistic (so to speak) not just on Jehovah, but on all the thousands of other gods as well. My position on Jehovah is identical to my position on Zeus. Show me evidence and I’ll reconsider, I have no interest in discounting or ignoring genuine data. But I’m not interested in games of ‘let’s pretend’ Jehovah is real because frankly if I were going to believe a fairy tale I’d go for one that wasn’t so poorly written as the Bible.