AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
With Republicans poised to make major gains in next week’s midterm elections, many Democrats are already pointing fingers and shirking blame for what looks to be a catastrophic wave of election losses.
As they did in 2020 and 2021, the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party is leading the charge in the blame game. Two years ago, following a disastrous performance for House Democrats, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), echoing the sentiment of other members of the “Squad,” said that it was actually Democrats’ refusal to lean more into radical policies like “Defund the Police” which cost them seats. “The conversation is a little bit deeper than saying anything progressive is toxic,” she said then, despite clear evidence that voters were deeply opposed to progressive policies.
Apparently still unwilling to admit that voters have rejected their far-left agenda, progressives are again expressing frustration that the Democratic Party has not been radical enough throughout the 2022 campaign season. Last month, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) pushed back on the suggestion that “Defund the Police” had hurt Democrats electorally, telling CNN host Don Lemon that “there is no data that actually shows that saying ‘defund the police’ cost actual elections.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has said that Democrats didn’t go “big enough” in implementing price controls and other expensive government programs.
Meanwhile, Democrats hoping to cultivate a “moderate” image and hide their record of radical votes have blamed progressives for not focusing on kitchen table issues like the economy and crime. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, one of the most endangered Democrat incumbents this fall, took a subtle dig at progressives’ obsession with policies like the Green New Deal and student debt forgiveness, saying that “if you can’t speak directly to people’s pocketbook and talk about our vision for the economy, you’re just having half a conversation.” (Notably, however, Slotkin joined House Democrats in voting for the big spending policies which caused those pocketbook concerns for voters.)
Even former President Obama – himself no stranger to far-left policies – has piled on criticism of progressives. “Sometimes, people just want to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells,” Obama said on a podcast late last month, referring to the perception of Democrats as “pronoun police” more concerned with political correctness than issues like inflation and the economy. He went on to say that Democrats need to avoid being a “buzzkill.” Former Bill Clinton advisor James Carville has been even more direct, saying that progressives “are all kind of nice people,” but “they’re very naive, and they’re all into language and identity. And that’s alright… But they’re not winning elections.”
Other Democrats facing losses in congressional races are also grumbling that weak gubernatorial candidates are dragging them down. In New York and California in particular, Democratic operatives are worried that unpopular governors Kathy Hochul and Gavin Newsom – both facing reelection this year – will lead to losses in certain key House races, even if Hochul and Newsom manage to win. Democrat strategists have also privately expressed concern that Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams – who trails Republican Governor Brian Kemp by more than eight points in the latest RealClearPolitics polling average – is dragging down Senator Raphael Warnock in his reelection bid.
Another favorite scapegoat for Democrats has been President Joe Biden, whose polling remains underwater with most demographics. Biden has been noticeably absent from several key Senate campaigns, and many candidates have outright avoided the President when he made visits to their state. Several prominent Democratic strategists also blasted Biden’s deeply divisive and angry speech earlier this week calling a potential Republican victory a “threat to democracy.” Faiz Shakir, Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager, said ahead of the speech that “I hope there are some people at the White House watching, because when you think about this address he’s about to give tonight — I hope they’re re-writing it and focusing on cost of living.” Former Obama Chief Strategist David Axelrod tweeted that “as a matter of practical politics, I doubt many Ds in marginal races are eager for [Biden] to be on TV tonight.”
For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many in the mainstream media, the voters themselves deserve most of the scorn for looming Democratic losses. “I cannot believe anybody would vote for these people,” she told the New York Times last month. “A vote for Republicans might just be the last one you ever cast,” scolded Ryan Cooper, an MSNBC columnist. Jennifer Rubin, a supposed “conservative” columnist for the Washington Post, has accused anyone who votes Republican of being a “low information” voter and “betraying democracy.”
The one person no one on the left seems willing to blame for the looming Red Wave, however, is themselves Beyond blaming rival factions, little self-reflection is going on. But given that virtually every Democrat has contributed to enacting the radical liberal agenda that has now put the party in dire electoral straits, perhaps looking in the mirror is the best place to start when assigning blame for any losses on Election Day.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.