For anyone wondering if there were any centrist or “moderate” Democrats who could appeal to independent voters and threaten President Trump’s reelection bid in 2020, the first two debates answered that question. There aren’t.
In 2004, Rep. Dennis Kucinich ran on the ideas of socialized medicine and taxpayer-paid education from kindergarten to college. His platform was derided by the majority of political commentators as far outside the mainstream, even downright wacky. Kucinich’s proposals were bad then, and they’re bad now. But in this election cycle, most Democrats running for president are either lined up with 2004 Kucinich or further to his left.
The narrative many in the media spun is that this race is a battle of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and far-left Sen. Elizabeth Warren versus numerous “moderate” or “mainstream” candidates such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg or former vice president Joe Biden. What we have witnessed from the first two debates, however, is that all the candidates are now pandering to a radicalized Democratic Party base far out of step with most Americans.
In 1962, Democratic President John F. Kennedy advocated one of the largest tax cuts in American history. Now? Democrats like Sanders openly advocate taxing the middle class to pay for lavish spending projects like full free college tuition and taxpayers paying off student debt. Sen. Kamala Harris openly bragged that “when” she became president, she wouldn’t hesitate to pass anti-Second Amendment measures with no input from Congress. Harris’s threat should send a chill up the spine of every freedom-loving American.
On January 23, 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton declared in a State of the Union Address that “the era of Big Government is over.” Twenty-three years later, every major candidate in the second Democratic primary debate raised his or her hand in support for taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants. All seem bent on the elimination of America’s sovereignty. Most of them support a version of the socialist “Medicare for All” program Sanders has proposed, which would end private health insurance. Unrestricted access to abortion seems so “automatic” it was hardly mentioned in the second debate.
The current crop of Democratic candidates is unprecedented in its embrace of far-left ideology. Democrats used to skirt around the idea of any sort of nationalized or single-payer health system. Many rejected it outright. Now? Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet—both characterized as “moderate” by the press—repeated the leftist idea that “health care is a human right.”
A night earlier, Sen. Amy Klobuchar came right out and gave away the game, announcing America must get to a universal health-care system as quickly as possible. This line was repeated by Bennet the second night. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney—another so-called “moderate”—declared health care should be “free…full stop.” Earlier on the first night, Delaney exclaimed that everyone in America was entitled to “a living wage.” These positions are not “moderate.” They are ideas that dangerous 20th-century socialists would have applauded.
You would expect “moderate” candidates to be horrified by alarming comments like those made by Sanders or Harris. But they received relatively light pushback on their more audacious ideas. When New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Warren both indicated they would abolish all private health insurance outright, no “moderate” onstage mounted even a quasi-effective retort.
There should be huge openings to attack and demolish such radical proposals. If the “moderates” exist, they’re not exploiting their openings. NBC’s moderators even gave the less loony Democratic candidates chances to comment on some of the more outrageous ideas of their colleagues, but time and time again they all failed to take advantage.
One of the best examples of the “they must be reasonable if they’re not as crazy as Bernie” fallacy is the recent response to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Google search results for Gabbard shot through the roof after the first debate. She appeared to many as composed and tolerable alternative and was certainly pitched that way by the media.
In truth, Gabbard supports the Green New Deal and a shift to 100 percent renewable energy to combat what she calls a “climate crisis.” She backs an “assault weapons” ban and has an “F” rating from the NRA. Gabbard believes in “Medicare for All” and favors open borders. She may be less “storm the Bastille!” than Sanders and more likable than Warren, but she’s still a hard leftist.
Still currently leading in the polls, Joe Biden is the most highly-touted “moderate.” However, in his first debate for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Biden came out in favor of “mandatory” biometric “smart-guns,” nationalized preschool, and “free” community college. If these ideas are now what the media counts as “moderate,” then they have completely shifted the Overton window so far to the left that America may be in a bit of trouble.