It was clear before the Democratic National Convention got underway that the emerging progressive wing of the party would not be very welcome. AOC, arguably the party’s biggest star, is only slated for a 60 second pre-recorded message while John Kasich, an ex Republican Governor was given more time to denounce progressive democrats like her.
It’s obvious Democrats are still scared of Republicans demonizing them as far-left radicals. It is in part why, following several early victories by Bernie Sanders in the primaries, the whole establishment rallied in unison around Biden. It is the same election formula that has been playing out for decades.
Before the convention got underway, Kasich, an anti-choice, anti-union Republican questioned whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “represents the Democratic Party,” suggesting she’s too far left for what he believes is a more centrist party.
AOC replied on twitter that “a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.” She’s right, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from shaping the ideology of the Democratic Party since Reagan.
With the exception of four years in the 1940s, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives from 1933 to 1995. They lost in 1994 thanks to the “Republican Revolution” of Newt Gingrich. They won after a national campaign to label Bill Clinton as a tax and spend liberal, not the “New Democrat” or centrist he claimed to be (and actually was).
As a result, Clinton, who said in his State of the Union address that “the era of big government is over,” abandoned the Democratic base and embraced the neo-liberalism that had plagued the Republican Party since Nixon. He signed the now infamous crime bill, killed off welfare, deregulated Wall Street, Etc.
Even though times have changed significantly since those days, Democrats, particularly the older Biden types, are still living in fear as being cast as anything other than centrist. Something Republicans continue to do anyway. By the end of the 2020 Election, 30% of the country will confuse Biden and Harris for Stalin and Lenin. Think what you will, but Harris does not look good in a mustache.
Back to Kasich. When Republicans, speaking on behalf of Democrats, do the exact same thing they’ve been doing for decades and accuse some of them of being too far left, progressives naturally get angry. Particularly because there is just no truth to it. Kasich and other Republicans like him, Trump supporters or not, just have a different definition of where the center is.
Medicare for all, tuition free college, Green New Deal, $15 minimum wage, these are all moderate policies. Not just in other countries, not just in the Democratic Party either. 46% of Republican voters and up to 90% of Democratic voters support Medicare for All. How in the world is that too far left or extreme? It is in fact as moderate as you can get.
It’s fear (and corporate donations) that keep Democrats from doing the right thing. By their own admission, they still see covering 100% of Americans with free healthcare as being extreme, while covering 90% is moderate.
The thing is, it’s not the policy that is extreme or moderate, not when its founded on truth anyway, it’s how people support it. It used to be that trickle-down economics was an extreme position, Republicans made it moderate while casting Keynesian Economics as far left. Democrats ate it up and it became the new reality. Thirty years ago, policies like Medicare for All might have been seen as extreme too, but not anymore.
Republicans have dragged Democrats so far to the right in the past 30 years, it would make FDR’s jaw drop. His legacy has effectively been erased, just how conservatives planned it.
If the United States is to see any real change under a Biden Presidency, assuming he wins, they need to stop being afraid of getting called names. Stand up for what’s right and create the narrative themselves. Quit trying to win over conservative support who are hell bent on keeping the status quo. The tent is not, nor should it be that big.
“The only thing to fear, is fear itself”