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Democrat Division Is Dysfunctional and Dimming 2020 Hopes

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Democratic presidential primary is doing just what Amy Klobuchar feared it would do in last week’s debate: ripping it apart. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist who bashes billionaires every chance he gets competes with an actual billionaire for the nomination while largely ignoring the other white male septuagenarian and the last remaining woman in the race.

As Sen. Bernie Sander’s candidacy gains momentum, traditional party liberals like Matt Bennett, who worked as Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs for President Clinton, say, “It’s this incredible sense that we’re hurtling to the abyss. I also think we could lose the House. And if we do, there would be absolutely no way to stop [Trump]. Today is the most depressed I’ve ever been in politics.”

Democrats are in disarray as the party cannot find a candidate who unites their warring factions. Voters do not know where the party stands on crucial issues. The current front-runner supports policies that would cost the average taxpayer thousands of dollars and eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs.

While trying to appear united on the need to do something about climate change, beneath the surface Democrats are in deep disagreement. Those on the far left want to pass the Green New Deal (GND), a proposal light on specifics but heavy on costs, while those on the near left promote a less ambitious approach that fails to excite their base. 

Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have established the GND as their litmus test for 2020 presidential candidates while denigrating more moderate Democrat incumbents as insufficiently committed.

The GND has large sections that do not address climate change but instead focus on reshaping the economy into a socialist system. If passed, the proposal would likely cost the average American family tens of thousands annually according to the American Action Forum and would drive many companies in the energy and manufacturing industries out of business.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admits the GND is not a serious policy that unites Democrats: It’s “not legislation. It’s a list of aspirations… Just because somebody has an idea doesn’t mean it goes to the floor.”  

A similar divide exists on health-care policy between Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All plan and candidates like former VP Joe Biden, who support a quasi-public option. Both proposals entail a massive expansion of government involvement in health care, but only Medicare for All abolishes all private insurance.

In a recent debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who supports a watered-down version of Medicare for All, argued Klobuchar’s proposal was a “Post-it note” saying “insert plan here.”

Former candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg, punched back by arguing Medicare for All is a political disaster that Americans do not want and do not need. 

Compromise is unlikely. Sen. Sanders remains committed to a proposal that will eliminate thousands of jobs, reduce consumer choice and cost so much he won’t even give an estimate. 

Even the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is having trouble advancing some of the most radical proposals. A bill before the Financial Services Committee capping short-term loans at 36% has divided Democrats on the committee.

According to Beau Brunson, director of policy and regulatory affairs at Consumers’ Research, “Mandating an annualized rate of 36 percent would effectively eliminate small-dollar loans as a credit option for millions of financially vulnerable Americans. To where will these consumers turn should the proposed bill pass?”

Democrat Reps. Brad Sherman and David Scott have raised these concerns in committee hearings and have rightly committed themselves to ensuring their constituents have access to cash and are not forced to turn to either unregulated online lenders or illegal operators.

Unlike Sherman and Scott, most Democrats on the committee seem more interested in scoring political points by increasing government regulations on lenders than in helping poor Americans access financial services and protecting consumer choice.

These are just a few examples of areas where Democrats are divided on crucial issues, as far-left progressives continue to push the party towards an extreme that will hurt many Americans.

At the end of the day, President Trump’s policies have encouraged a strong, thriving economy that promises a job for anyone who wants one. The Democrats are in a fight for the soul of their party. Their voters have a Hobson’s choice between socialism (which will wreck the economy) and a return to overregulation and taxation which will grind the nation’s economic engine to a halt.

Colin A. Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring USA, Inc., a non-profit public policy organization committed to promoting Constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values.

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