AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
One month ago today, President Joe Biden headed to the Capitol for his State of the Union Address in what was billed as a “centrist pivot” moment for Democrats to try and salvage the party’s hopes in November’s midterm elections. Yet in a revealing display of just how empty those words were, today’s “moderate” Joe Biden is endorsing sex change surgery for teenagers and preparing to revoke border protections during the worst border crisis in history. One month later, it seems safe to say that not only has any discernable “pivot” failed to materialize, the chance for executing any sort of run to the middle has long since passed, and the only lasting effect of the attempted change in tone appears to be deepening divides within the Democratic Party itself.
Many Americans – Republican and Democrat – were likely shocked when they heard Biden repeatedly call for funding the police, securing the southern border, and addressing bipartisan priorities like opioid addiction, standing up to China, and online privacy for children during his State of the Union last month. To be sure, the speech still contained plenty of nods to progressive priorities, most notably a call to pass his multi-trillion-dollar “Build Back Better Act” (not-so-subtly rebranded as “Build a Better America”), but overall, the remarks were clearly intended to shift Biden’s positioning toward the political center ahead of the midterms.
Of course, that did not sit well with progressives, who were immediately outraged that Biden did not spend the entirety of his speech talking about climate change, “equity,” or any number of other “existential threats” supposedly facing the country. One activist said Biden’s call to fund the police was “absolutely disgusting,” while prominent “Squad” members Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) also criticized the President’s support for law enforcement.
They need not have worried. Progressivism would soon dominate the headlines again a few days later with the release of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “Recommendations for Executive Action” – a comprehensive list of desired Executive Orders that would achieve their longstanding goal of “remaking” America if implemented. Far from submitting to the pleas of many Democrat strategists to moderate ahead of the midterms, progressives have continued to plow ahead with their largely successful goal of radicalizing the Democratic Party. Squad leader Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) has doubled down on her progressive agenda, insisting that only through more far-left policies do Democrats have any hope of retaining their majority.
But the White House and so-called “moderate” Democrats in Congress haven’t exactly done anything to translate their rhetorical pivot to the center into action, either. Along with Biden’s aforementioned actions, his $5.8 trillion budget released earlier this week includes a $2.5 trillion tax hike (the largest in history in dollar terms) and would run a deficit of $1.15 trillion, even as soaring inflation and record-high gas prices continue to devastate working families. Congressional Democrats are also still pushing for tens of billions more in COVID-19 spending, trying to sneak through a radical voting agenda, and working to pass the Build Back Better Act piecemeal ahead of the midterm elections. Hardly “moderation,” no matter the label the White House wants to put on it.
There’s also the inconvenient fact that every Democrat in Congress is still tied to their radical voting record from the past two years. As “moderate” Democrats are forced to face their voters, Republicans have slammed them for “yes” votes on policies like a federal takeover of elections (H.R. 1, the “For the People Act”), mass amnesty (the so-called “American Dream and Promise Act”), and of course the granddaddy of them all, Biden’s “Build Back Better Act.” Not to mention the fact that virtually every elected Democrat voted in favor of the uncontrolled spending that is now causing historic inflation. While Democrats from purple or even light blue districts might claim to be moderates, a similar voting record to the Squad doesn’t make for a compelling argument.
Unsurprisingly, Biden’s woeful poll numbers and Democrats’ struggles on the generic Congressional ballot have not improved at all over the past month.
Democrats’ failure to convince many people that they are willing to moderate, or are even capable of doing so, also speaks to larger problems with the Democratic brand itself. Though Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi are all relics of a bygone era where Democrats were capable of advancing a more reasonable center-left platform (all were in Congress during former President Bill Clinton’s famous “triangulation” in the 1990s), they have proved wholly incapable of even coming close to that feat today.
Democrats thus appear to have passed the point of no return when it comes to salvaging their image or attempting a pivot toward the center before November’s elections. Like someone who allows a sore to fester for too long for fear that treatment may be painful, the Democratic Party is now waking up to realize that it has no hope of recovery from its radical and extremist brand with the American voter.