COLUMN: Democrats need to go further left


Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens as then-congressional candidate Liz Watson delivers remarks at a rally Oct. 19, 2018, at Dunn Meadow. Noble Guyon Buy Photos

Centrist Democrats and Democratic strategists have had the same approach to winning national elections for years and it consistently fails. They should move further left to be in line with the American people on the issues.

Democratic strategists have always had the mindset of moving toward the center in an attempt at appealing to more moderate independents. The problem with this strategy is it does not excite people to vote, and paints moderate Democrats as watered-down Republicans in the eyes of the public.

The Overton window, which describes what is viewed as tolerated in public discourse, in the U.S. has shifted so far to the right that now internationally moderate candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are viewed as far-left, when actually they are in lockstep with the American people issue for issue.

If the 2016 presidential election was any indication, the sentiment of populism is surging in the American public. Americans need something to vote for, not just something to vote against.

Centrist and incrementalist politicians like Hillary Clinton do not appeal to voters because they do not have any bold policy positions that will bring about significant change for the people.

This is exactly what happened with Clinton and her “manners policing” anti-Trump campaign, which focused much more on things like identity politics rather than a progressive policy agenda and representing working class voters.

Many of America’s biggest accomplishments were birthed by bold action on the part of politicians. For example, with Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, there were constant naysayers who scowled toward the New Deal with non-substantive critiques such as “it costs too much.

This is the same problem with today’s Democrats and proposals like "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal. Americans are suffering and bold action needs to be taken. We do not need bought politicians to stand in the way and say how “better things aren’t possible.”

Politicians like Sanders are popular because he serves his base and has a bold platform of innovative policy proposals that are popular across the political spectrum regardless of how voters might self-identify.

This is how Donald Trump remains so popular: he constantly serves the Republican base. When Democrats try to appeal to more moderate and conservative voters, they abandon their base in favor of being a more inclusive big tent party, turning off Democratic voters.

Americans are not presented with an actual left-wing option, and when voters have to choose between a Republican and a conservative Democrat, they will always choose the Republican.

Labels are simply not something the public fully grasps because they are often not defined — the issues themselves are what voters are concerned about.

According to a poll by Pew Research Center conducted in January 2019, 58% of registered Republican voters think the Republican party should become more conservative and only 40% of Democratic voters think the Democratic party should go further left.

This data does not mean anything because the terms are not defined and are different for everyone. The terms “conservative” and “left” are thrown around all the time with no reference as to what those terms mean with respect to the issues. The issues and their popularity are what directly correlate with what kinds of politicians are popular.

For example, Sanders is viewed as far-left, yet he remains wildly popular among even self-described conservative Democrats. His broad and increasing support is because he represents the working class and supports popular policies like Medicare for All, free college, pulling out of unnecessary wars like Afghanistan, legalizing marijuana and raising taxes on the rich.

Often going further left is associated with more authoritarian approaches like the leftists censoring speech on college campuses but this is not necessarily true.

The libertarian left and social democrats like Sanders are advocating for populist left economic and social policies that are overwhelmingly favored by the American people and I think it is time for a populist left wave to take our country by storm.

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