Moderate Dems meet to save party from the socialists
Red-state Democrats, many of them representing districts won by Donald Trump in 2016, met in Columbus, Ohio to come up with a strategy to counter what they see as the socialist takeover of their party.
They describe themselves as "moderate" – a relative term for both sides in this day and age. At the very least, they are far less strident and not quite as hysterically anti-Trump as the rest of their party.
But whether they can counter the growing influence of Bernie Sanders and the new Democratic Party star, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, remains to be seen.
Pragmatism may be a tougher sell in the Donald Trump era, but with the 2020 presidential race just around the corner, moderate Democrats know they are running out of time to reassert themselves.
The gathering here was just that – an effort to offer an attractive alternative to the rising Sanders-style populist left in the upcoming presidential race. Where progressives see a rare opportunity to capitalize on an energized Democratic base, moderates see a better chance to win over Republicans turned off by Trump.
The fact that a billionaire real estate developer, Winston Fisher, co-cohosted [sic] the event and addressed attendees twice underscored that this group is not interested in the class warfare vilifying the "millionaires and billionaires" found in Sanders' stump speech.
"You're not going to make me hate somebody just because they're rich. I want to be rich!" Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a potential presidential candidate, said Friday to laughs.
With radicals preparing drum head trials for Trump, his supporters, the rich, and just about anyone who disagrees with them, Rep. Ryan might want to rethink his desire to be "rich."
These moderates appear to be the only Democrats who realize the danger the party is in:
But some elected officials in relatively conservative areas say progressives are clueless about what their agenda would mean for Democrats outside major cities and the coasts.
"We will be a permanent minority party in this country," said Iowa state Sen. Jeff Danielson, a firefighter who represents an area that saw one of the biggest swings from Barack Obama to Trump during the 2016 election.
Single-payer, government-run health care may be a popular party plank in New York City, where Ocascio-Cortez [sic], a Democratic Socialist, recently won a high-profile primary, Danielson said, but added, "it does not work in the rest of America ... and I'm tired of losing."
Moderates said they feel they're being drowned out by louder voices on the left.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic leadership who represents a district Trump won, invoked Richard Nixon's "silent majority."
"If you look throughout the heartland, there's a silent majority who just wants normalcy. Who wants to see that people are going out to Washington to fight for them in a civil way and get something done," she told reporters.
That's an extraordinary admission from Rep. Bustos. The radicals oppose "normalcy," which isn't a surprise to most of us, but is unusual coming from a Democratic member of Congress.
Realistically, the Democratic moderates have no better chance of impacting the direction of their party than GOP moderates have in influencing Republicans. This situation predates Donald Trump's presidency, although the polarization has gotten worse in the last two years.
Former FBI director James Comey warns the Democrats not to "lose your minds" and embrace socialism. It is probably too late for that. The question now becomes, will socialism sell in the heartland?
At least some Democrats are convinced it won't.