Democratic presidential hopefuls stampede to the left

  • 16 May 2018
  • jwoodie
Democratic presidential hopefuls stampede to the left

Democrats campaigning in the midterm congressional elections, as well as those making preliminary moves on 2020 presidential bids, are casting about for issues to run on. They may have landed a few, which not so long ago, were considered so far out in left field, no serious Democrat would embrace them. How did an already liberal party decide to go full progressive?

On issues like health care, immigration, jobs, and crime, once-fringe policy proposals are gaining traction with lawmakers, activists, and wonks as they debate the party’s path out of its current wilderness.

Democrats point to a few factors driving the progressive policy boom.

At the grassroots level, President Donald Trump spurred a restive base toward fiercer activism with a passion that has politicians worried about getting on their bad side. There’s also the rise of Bernie Sanders, whose policy DNA and loyal following is remaking the broader party.

And at the top, there’s a staring contest between potential 2020 presidential contenders, especially in the House and Senate, that has members looking for new ideas to distinguish themselves and wary of being left off standout legislation from rivals.

We’re not so sure there’s a pressing need for Democrats to toe the Bernie Sanders line. Considering the congressional primary results to date, hard line progressives aren’t doing all that well. If anything, Democratic voters appear to be picking middle-of-the-road candidates who, while still liberal, aren’t tie-dyed resistance members.

So the policy ideas – free health care, guaranteed jobs, marijuana legalization, protections for illegal immigrants – are likely to find more favor among those who want to run for president, such as Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren.

Here’s hoping they have a great time running to the left. What it does is open the field to a moderate Democrat.
But what it really does is make it all the more likely that 2020 will be a very good year for Republicans.