Former Governor Rendell warns Dems: 'We are leaning left too far'

The colorful former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, penned an op-ed in The Hill warning his fellow Democrats that the party was leaning too far left.

For Democrats, one trend that has taken hold is quite alarming: our swing to the far left. That trend has been exemplified by almost all of our putative presidential candidates. The two clearest examples of trying to appeal to our base by being as progressive as possible were the rush to embrace a “single-payer” health care system after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) publicly endorsed it, and the stampede to call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan really was not unexpected; he talked about single-payer during the 2016 campaign. But when he reiterated it, loudly and clearly, his words brought a rapid endorsements from almost all other Democrats who are hinting at presidential aspirations. If you’ve read one of my columns in The Hill, you know that I think single-payer could work under certain circumstances but I am troubled by its initial expense and taxes we would have to raise to make it work early on. In the few places it has been tried, such as Vermont, it was repealed because it was simply unworkable and unfundable.

If the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 - be it Sanders or no - promises to enact a single payer, "Medicare for all" health insurance plan, that candidate will be slaughtered. With a price tag of $3 trillion over 10 years, and the prospect of government interferring in our health care decisions, the American people would decisively reject the idea.

So yes, please Democrats, go for it.

By any stretch of the imagination, single payer health insurance is a radical change from the system we have now. Rendell believes this radicalism isn't necessary.

The “abolish ICE” movement came at a terrible time for the Democratic Party because, in the weeks preceding the movement’s arise, the Trump administration was getting savaged — and deservedly so — for its idiotic policy of separating families at the southern border. Public opinion polls were so strong against the administration that the divider-in-chief was forced to sign an executive order to keep migrant families together. His unfavorable ratings were shooting up, but we Democrats came to his rescue by letting him change the subject — to say that Democrats wanted to abolish ICE and leave the border defenseless. That may appear to be a totally illogical argument, but it effectively redirected attention and halted the bleeding for President Trump.

The real question Rendell should be asking is if it's possible for a national Democrat to run without appealing to the party's lunatic fringe?

So, the moral of the story is: if we continue to tack to the far left in the 2020 election cycle, we surely will see another four years of President Trump (please, no!). But, if we recalibrate our thinking and come up with a solid left-of-center candidate (e.g. Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Klobuchar, or Rep. John Delaney of Maryland) we just might win — and take the House and Senate as well.

The "moderate" wing of both parties is dead. You hear very little this election cycle about "bi-partisanship" or "moderate" governance. America is at war with itself and as ordinary voters become more and more cynical about what's happening in Washington, capturing the enthusiasm of the base becomes paramount to any politician's desire for elective office.

Republicans don't have to worry about a fight for the soul of the party in 2020. It's Donald Trump's party and GOP politicians either accept that singular fact of life or retire (or are defeated in a primary). 

But the Democrat's civil war is just getting started. I doubt very much whether any of those candidates named by Rendell have a ghost of a chance of winning the presidential nomination. So it is very likely that the radical fringe of the Democratic party will become even more influential, deluding themselves into thinking their extremist policies will catch on with the voters and propel them to the White House and a congressional majority.



If you experience technical problems, please write to