As a policy matter, the progressive agenda is a problem for the entire country, and one that most of the country recognizes. As a political matter, the progressive agenda is a problem for the Democratic Party, one that many members of its base do not recognize. The question at hand, with its congressional majority, governorships, other statewide offices and legislative seats hanging in the balance, is whether the Democratic Party can reconcile the policy differences between the public and their party in the short-term and/or the long-term.
Today, we examine the prognosis for the Democratic Party in the short-term.
The problem is succinctly set forth in a Washington Times article, “Far Left Rejects Fears They Are Denting Democrats’ Midterm Hopes,” by Seth McLaughlin with contributions by Kerry Picket. Setting aside quibbles that the progressives aren’t merely denting but destroying the Democrats’ midterm hopes, the dichotomy between the far-Left and the electorate is crystalline and quantifiable:
SFGate in San Francisco reported that the pollsters asked swing district voters about the veracity of other Republican statements related to Democrats’ policies on crime, immigration, spending and cost of living. Sixty-four percent agreed with the statement ‘Democrats in Congress support defunding the police and taking more cops off of the street’ . . . 80% of self-identified swing voters in competitive districts agreed that Democrats want to defund the police and take officers off the streets.
Further, the Washington Times reports how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s own internal polling shows the unpopularity of progressive positions. There is the electorate’s perception of the party as “too ‘preachy,’ ‘judgmental’ and ‘focused on culture wars’ [according to Politico].” There is voter angst, especially among parents with school-age children, about critical race theory indoctrination in schools and the workforce.
There is also the fact that 57 percent of voters in battleground congressional districts—including 66 percent of self-defined “swing voters”—agree with the statement “Democrats in Congress have taken things too far in their pandemic response.” And these are just the results the DCCC wanted to leak for the purpose of reining in the progressive caucus.
Heading into the midterms, the Democratic Party is in a parlous predicament. Like any party, it needs to be popular enough to win elections and govern. But the Democratic Party’s progressive policies, while popular with their true believers, are unpopular with the bulk of the public. Elementary math spells electoral disaster for the party, unless they find a way to rethink and revise their policies or “rebrand” them to increase their popularity.
When it comes to defunding the police, the Democrats will attempt to “recalibrate” their rhetoric on this and other unpopular progressive policy positions heading into the midterm elections. It is a necessarily short-term approach.
Some voters may blame the Democrats for not acting sooner to pare down specific policy proposals to pick up some legislative wins heading into the fall. Yet, the party—especially its extreme progressives—had delusional expectations of what a bare congressional majority could accomplish even while holding the White House. In the progressives’ continuing recriminations over who is to blame regardless of partisan affiliation, time and energy has been squandered summoning a circular firing squad that is even now still proving difficult to defuse before November.
While some progressives may welcome the crash of the current Democratic majority to propel the final purge of those reactionary elements within their party’s establishment seen as impeding the far-Left’s final victory, the solid majority of the party wants to hold what they have and expand it. Thus, according to the Washington Times, the only feasible way at this relatively late juncture is for the Democratic Party to propagandize their way out of the present electoral danger:
Political analysts and party insiders say the difference between getting slaughtered at the ballot box and controlling the bleeding will hinge on the Democratic Party’s ability to strike a balance between ginning up its liberal base and delivering a message that resonates with independent-leaning voters.
Obviously, prior to the midterms this will preclude a restructuring of the Democrats’ progressive policies, because doing that would fracture and/or alienate its base. And, in politics, if a party or a candidate’s base stays home they will not win, period. Thus, the only alternative is to find a way to make the far-Left’s odious progressive proposals more palatable to the electorate by sugar coating them in misleading rhetoric, which will be duly amplified by their cronies in the corporate media. This Democratic propaganda campaign will not be aimed at the entirety of the voting public. It will be targeted at swing and independent voters in battleground seats and states.
Democrats in the short term have little choice but for their disparate factions to come together, stick with their progressive agenda, recast their communications, and hope to cut their losses. With the exceedingly practical American people getting daily reminders of the concrete failures of the progressive agenda, at best the Democrats’ propaganda campaign will prove too little too late come November.
Meanwhile, in the offing, it is in the long-run where things get really dicey for the Democrats.