It was a little over a year ago that the Democratic Party started in with what appears now to have been a coordinated, public handwringing over the prospect of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at the top of the 2020 ticket. In a Politico piece from January 2020 Rep. Cedric Richmond was quoted as saying:
“The wrong person at the top of the ticket — and I’m not saying who that is — there would be down-ballot carnage all across the country, and I think that people are starting to recognize it,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), a national co-chair of the Biden campaign.”
Anthony Brindisi, a Dem from a GOP leaning district in upstate New York said:
“If we’re going to campaign on issues like Medicare for All and free college for everybody, we’re not going to have a winning message in 2020.”
As we all know now, the collective fear-mongering about having Bernie Sanders as the nominee prevailed, and Joe Biden dominated the primaries after South Carolina until Sanders called off his presidential campaign in late March. Whew, that was a close one. All that down ballot carnage was avoided. Ooops!
Democrats, expecting to pick up House seats in November 2020, lost eight seats instead, and rather than take back the Senate during the general election as expected they had to rely on a pair of Georgia runoffs that, given the decidedly atypical political environment in which they occurred, are not predictive of anything. Trump is gone from the White House, and that’s a good thing, but otherwise democrats had a lousy election and the trend doesn’t bode well for the 2022 mid-terms. How did this happen?
Some say it was the “ defund the police” demand from the sweeping racial justice uprising that erupted after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May 25th. Some, like Rep Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), said democrats should never use the word ” socialism” again. So it wasn’t enough to keep Sanders from becoming the nominee, now we need to scrub his influence of the last five years completely out of the party so we can attract those who dwell in the mythical ” middle”? Bullshit. Democrats are, like Johnny Lee’s country hit song says “ looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Bernie Sanders startling and unexpected ascension to national prominence over the last five years isn’t because he’s such a warm and fuzzy guy. It’s because he championed issues that matter to tens and tens and tens of millions of Americans, issues like Medicare for All, living wages, free public college tuition for whoever wants it, a financial transactions tax on Wall Street, legalizing marijuana, etc. So where does a guy like Brindisi, quoted above, get the idea that campaigning on these issues isn’t a winning message?
The Pew Research Center, just one year ago, released a report stating that 63% of American adults support free tuition at public universities, which I assume would include technical colleges. You can’t campaign on that issue? Really?
Public support for Medicare for All has steadily increased since 2016 and is reaching all time highs during the pandemic, with 55% of Americans supporting it in a Politico/Morning Consult poll from April 2020. And there isn’t any doubt in my mind that if democrats had a unified and clear message on Improved Medicare for All, such as ” the vast majority of Americans will have better coverage at a lower overall cost”, support would skyrocket. You can’t campaign on an issue like that? Really?
As 2022 already looms on the horizon, democrats have to come to grips with reality: tacking to the mythical middle to win over moderate republicans is a losing strategy. It doesn’t work. Take it from Johnny Lee:
I spent a lifetime lookin’ for you
Single bars and good time lovers were never true
Playing a fools game, hopin’ to win
Tellin’ those sweet lies and losin’ again
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and lover
I’ll bless the day I discover
Another heart lookin’ for love