As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, there’s always a push from centrists, moderates and “sensible” people in the Democratic Party to push against the left. Just compromise on abortion. Or stop worrying about the special problems of blacks, gays, Hispanics and women. That’s how to win!
The current incarnation of this theory, Jamelle Bouie writes, is that the moderates in the party are complaining that the left winger such as A-OC are alienating moderate and conservative voters. As Bouie points out, though, moderate politicians such as Biden and Pelosi currently dominate the party. They’re setting the policies; if they’re not connecting, they should take the blame.
Of course, as NMMNB pointed out recently, it doesn’t matter how moderate Democrats hew. Republicans will always paint them as ultra-extremists, as in all the claims I’ve seen that Biden is converting America into a communist state or that sure, Biden’s fine but Kamala Harris is his evil commie puppet-master! She pulls the strings! Moderation won’t change that (more discussion in this thread).
Case in point: after 9/11 Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, both major players in Republican politics, said God let it happen to punish America for something or other (I don’t remember which hobbyhorse they were riding that day). So did Sen. James Inhofe. On the Democratic side, the Republicans had to dig up Ward Churchill, a professor at a Colorado university who thought the attack was a reaction to America’s Mideast policies. Conservative voices held him up as proof of how liberals hated America and he wound up getting much more attention than Falwell, Robertson and Inhofe did (IIRC at least).
Similarly, although liberal cancel culture is a blatant right-wing lie,millions of mainstream voters have bought into the myth of woke political correctness ruining careers and suppressing discussion (more here). Typhoid Ron DeSantis has just announced, a la Texas’ abortion laws, allowing private citizens to sue schools for teaching critical race theory (presumably anything short of “white people are god’s favorite” will qualify) but that won’t get the same outrage. Nor will Louisiana anti-vax attorney general Jeff Landry demanding LSU punish a professor for calling Landry’s assistant a flunkie.
For another example, Clinton ran as a centrist and adopted a variety of centrist policies (as Bouie points out). Welfare reform. NAFTA. Tough on crime laws. Said abortion should be safe, legal … and rare. He was still the ultra-liberal, pot-smoking, draft-dodging president (at the time a lot of Republicans pretended they couldn’t stomach a draft dodger, but they were fine with W, and with Trump mocking the military). His sensible welfare reforms, cutting back most federal programs if you weren’t working, were supposed to end welfare as an issue — nobody could complain now about welfare queens getting handouts! The results were people wound up worse off but the right-wing remained adamant that nobody but them should receive any government help.
I don’t mean that if the Democrats support left-wing policies they’ll win over Republican voters, let alone win office. I support them because in many cases (“left-wing policies” is obviously a very broad label) they’re the right policies. As one former congressman said recently, only a small fraction of America will ever have the power the members of Congress do — use it for more than winning re-election. Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs offers an example.