AMAC Exclusive by: Shane Harris
It looks as if Democrats just now realized there’s an election next year. After months of repeated appeals from pollsters, consultants, and former officials, Congressional Democrats finally appear to be hearing the warnings that their party and their message is not resonating with voters. But with the party still firmly in the grip of radical progressive politicians and donors, Democrats may have already sealed their fate for 2022.
According to a new poll commissioned by the party’s own campaign arm, the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, Democrats are trailing Republicans by 6 points on a generic ballot among likely voters in swing districts. Those results, particularly on the economy, which 55% of respondents said they did not trust Democrats to handle, have rightly alarmed Congressional Democrats. One Democratic member was quoted as saying that the numbers looked “pretty dismal,” while Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said bluntly “we’re not breaking through.”
But for many Democrats who bill themselves as moderates, the results of the poll are hardly surprising. In fact, they confirm what a number of longtime Democratic commentators have been saying for months about the perils of the ever-increasing leftward tilt of the Democratic Party.
Liberal pollster Stan Greenberg, for example, warned in May that data showed “Democrats are at risk of repeating 2020 if they do not prioritize defusing and neutralizing” Republican messaging on issues like crime, immigration, and the culture war. Greenberg also noted that GOP voters remained largely unified behind President Trump and that “Republicans are following the political theater much more closely than are Democrats.”
Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher and a frequent outspoken critic of Republicans and President Trump, didn’t mince words when characterizing Democrats’ image issues following the 2020 election: “Democrats are the party of every hypersensitive social justice warrior woke bullshit story in the news.” Maher also hit Democrats for being weak on crime, saying that people voted for Trump “because your side [Democrats] thinks silence is violence and looting is not.”
Even David Shor, a self-described socialist and whiz kid pollster on the left, recognized the unsustainability of Democrats’ progressive messaging, saying that their “current electoral coalition is not consistent with wielding legislative power.” As AMAC Newsline reported earlier this year, Shor also warned that if Democrats don’t radically transform democracy with anti-democratic initiatives like H.R. 1, they “will almost certainly lose control of the federal government and not be in a position to pass laws again potentially for a decade.”
A rare moment of self-reflection also took place within the Democratic House caucus last November, with Majority Whip Jim Clyburn warning that Democrats are “not going to win” if they run on socialist policies again. Freshman Democrat Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania further urged his party to moderate, saying that policies like defunding the police “aren’t just unpopular, they’re completely unrealistic.”
Even before their disastrous House campaign in 2020, some voices within the party expressed concern about growing Democrat radicalism in a number of policy areas. During the 2020 Democratic primary, liberal journalist Albert Hunt advised Democrat primary voters to “KO Sanders” in order to “avoid November catastrophe.” Among other issues, Hunt cited Sanders’ proposals to “end private health insurance, impose big taxes, [and] ban all fracking,” as well as “his empathy for some left-wing dictators [and] changing positions on gun control and immigration” as a sure bet to sink Democrats’ chances in the general election.
Democratic primary voters apparently agreed with Hunt’s analysis, handing the nomination to Joe Biden instead. But, incredibly, soon after defeating Sanders precisely because he was a progressive, Biden released a “Biden-Sanders Progressive Unity Platform,” a clear sign of just how radical his administration would, and has, become – and how far supposedly “moderate” candidates like Biden feel they need to go to appease progressives.
Many Democrats have also privately expressed fears that the party indeed appears to be held hostage by a radical group of ultra-left members of Congress and their allies in the media who increasingly drive public policy. Evidence of this alliance was on full display just this past week, when Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO), a member of the so-called “Squad,” slept on the steps of the Capitol for three nights to “protest” the end of the eviction moratorium, which her party had wisely planned on allowing to expire. Instead, the media rallied around Bush, lionizing her cause and, amid outcry from a small but vocal minority, Biden defied the Supreme Court and extended the moratorium. So much for moderation.
Ultimately, anything can happen on Election Day next year. While paths for Democrats to keep their majorities may be slim, they are not nonexistent. If Republicans do retake Congress, it will likely be through continuing to highlight the radical direction of the Democratic Party and by targeting Democrats’ actual governing record, forcing them to defend their policies that have thus far been anything but moderate and have failed the country and its people.