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The Stakes are Too High to Draw the Wrong Conclusions About Tuesday’s Elections

This Times editorial board piece arguing Tuesday showed that Dems don’t want big progressive ideas ignores one small fact: The ideas Biden is promoting are virtually all supported by 2/3rds or more of Americans. His platform is as mainstream as it gets.

NY Times: Democrats Deny Political Reality at Their Own Peril

It also essentially asserts that the elections were a referendum on the BBB ideas with zero evidence to support that idea. It also ignores key factors that drove the results from historical trends to the consequences of post-COVID hangover on public views (like education).

It also ignores the wins of progressives across the country and plays up centrist victories like that of Eric Adams while ignoring that he first won in a weighted choice primary against a field in which progressives offset each other and then versus a joke opponent in the general election.

It downplays that NJ doesn’t like re-electing Democratic governors and that Murphy was the first in 44 years to win re-election and that in Virginia the candidate of the party of the incumbent president almost always loses.

It essentially picks and chooses factors it wants to play up and fabricates conclusions without any basis for them in fact. As an analysis, it is woefully bad…and as advice for Dems it is also a loser.

Should Dems learn the lessons of Tuesday and avoid making mistakes that were made by candidates or the party this week? Of course. The stakes are too high in the midterms and beyond not to. Democracy is at stake.

But that involves seeing things as they are and not as some 1990s view of US politics would have them. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is the only source of ideas for governing America (if you don’t count the right’s tax cuts for the rich, defense spending & racism).

There is no “centrist” agenda. It is just about watering down the ideas of the left and trying to deny the shifts in the views of the majority of the American public. Doubt me?

Try this: go check out poll results on where the majority of us stand on key “progressive” ideas.

Gun control? Expanding health care? Fairer tax code? Protecting the environment? Family leave? Expanding access to education? Defending a woman’s right to choose? All these are supported by not only almost all Dems but by many independents and Republicans.

Biden understands this. While many of the ideas on this list are attributed to the left, they are far more broadly embraced. Further let’s check out the credibility of “centrist thinking.” Do you mean Manchin warning that helping those in need as every other OECD country does will lead to an entitlement society? Sinema and Manchin blocking a tax code that has billionaires paying their fair share? The recent “centrist” chorus condemning “wokeism” which is just buying into the racist tropes of the right? (We should be less tolerant?)

Biden and his team understand that the American conversation has moved on from Clintonite “third way” formulas that in the end mostly turned out to be Reaganism-lite (remember the Sister Souljah moment, repealing Glass-Steagall, catering economic policy to the bond market?)

Note: I know what I am talking about. I was a Clinton Admin economic official. And while I believe Bill Clinton and many in his cabinet did much good and meant to do well for the American people, the “middle way” ended up just making inequality and division worse in America.

The lessons Dems must learn from Tuesday are to run better candidates, mobilize the vote with policies that help them, play offense, advancing our ideas & communicating them better, calling out the proven costs and dangers of Trumpism and GOP complicity in attacking our democracy.

The couple of notable wins that the parties of incumbent presidents have had during midterm elections were when that party communicated that we were in extraordinary circumstances in which the president and country needed a more supportive congress (like wartime).

We need to drive home the message that we are in a different kind of crisis but a crisis nonetheless. A failure of Dems to mobilize will likely result in further inroads against democracy, further truncation of voting rights, further attacks on other basic rights.

Dems need to treat next year’s vote like the referendum on the future of our system of government and our freedoms that it is. And they need to show that they alone are acting on behalf of voters. Fortunately, Biden understands this…and passing his agenda will prove it.

The Times has it wrong. Biden is on the right track. We must do better next November. We need to bring in the a-team of the party, raise funds, and work the grassroots with our message. We need to communicate more clearly. We need new, fresh, compelling candidates and advocates.

But failing to hear what the people really want, failing to understand the shifts that are transforming American politics in this century (rather than the last), failing to continue to try to deliver big for voters, would be a fatal error.

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