At the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the darling of the progressive Left, was blunt and straightforward in her vision of the party. They’re in a rut because they’re not left wing enough and further left is where they should go. Ever since the 2016 primaries, the Warren/Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wing of the party has become more vocal, more active, and completely blinded with rage over Donald Trump’s 2016 win. Many are saying the moderate, centrist path that kept Bill Clinton in the White House for two terms is over, and that Jon Ossoff, who lost the most expensive House race in Georgia, lost because he took a middle way in messaging. They’re gung-ho about making single-payer the new litmus test. First, they’re having a fight about abortion and whether backing pro-life Democrats is akin to making a deal with the devil. Right now, after playing defense, or not even speaking much at all, the more even-keeled (for lack of a better term) Democrats—many of them Obama and Clinton supporters— are pushing back, warning that this rush to the Lenin line is going to backfire—big league (via The Hill) [emphasis mine]:
Moderate Democrats are pushing back at Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) view that progressives have taken control of the party.
“We can't win the House back with progressives running in swing states,” said former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), a surrogate for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who is leading the Fight Back California super PAC aimed at winning back seven House seats in the Golden State.
Interviews with Democratic strategists, donors and organizers from across the country reveal deep disagreement with Warren’s premise that progressives make up the “heart and soul” of the Democratic Party.
Warren offered that synopsis during a speech at the liberal Netroots Nation conference last weekend, adding that progressives are in control of the party.
The Democrats who disagree with Warren are generally from the center of the party, and many were staunch supporters of former President Barack Obama and Clinton.
The clash is further proof of the divide in the party after 2016’s disappointment. Even as they face a Republican Party torn over how to deal with President Trump, Democrats are still trying to figure out what kind of a party they are.
"I'm wary of pendulum politics," one former senior administration official to Obama said. "We can't whiplash the country."
Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who served as a spokesman to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said while support has grown for many progressive issues, including a single-payer healthcare system, the party is in the midst of a rebuilding process and trying to figure out its next steps.
“I don't think we as a party can be casting too many people aside,” Manley said. “We need to figure out how to grow and bring everybody together. I realize that's happy talk but that's the reality. When you start talking about purity tests, that's a little problematic.”
There’s good reason for the non-Sander-ite wing of the party to feel this way. First, its true—Democrats will not be able to retake the House, Senate, or the presidency with just die-hard, socialist-spewing Democrats. Abortion on demand is not popular. Open borders and coddling illegal aliens who commit crimes is not popular. And single-payer is a very volatile issue, which I’m betting support will drop when voters realize that access to specialized doctors and care will be reduced in exchange for $32 trillion in tax hikes. If the progressive hounds in the cities would cool it with the identity politics, the political correctness, and the lectures on so-called white privilege, maybe a more rural-based Democratic crop can grow and maybe give the GOP a run for its money. Right now, the political apparatus of the Democratic Party in rural America have all due died out, with a candidate farming system that’s ceased to exist as well. Maximizing your position in the cities is not going to win you elections. You can’t win by just playing with 15% (the percentage of the U.S. population from the 50 biggest cities) of the population.
Sign of a red-state Dem in a tough re-election. (McCaskill said Dems made a mistake passing legislation "with just Democratic votes.") https://t.co/S4tj2KD138— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) August 17, 2017
Right now, the Cook Political Report placed Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia in the toss-up column. North Dakota has gone from likely Democratic to lean Democratic. The only GOP seat, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, went from likely Republican to toss up. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill is walking a waffled line on health care, opposing, and then being open to single-payer. She also said passing Obamacare was a mistake. In Indiana, Joe Donnelly, who tried to paint himself as a pro-worker, anti-outsourcing warrior, was exposed as someone who profited from outsourced labor from his family’s arts and crafts company, where he previously served as a corporate officer. West Virginia is just deep red, with Joe Manchin possibly entering the fight for his political life. Its governor, Jim Justice, a Democrat, recently switched parties. Except for Nevada, every state went heavily for Trump. The party’s money woes also certainly don’t help, as they will definitely need a sizable war chest to fund this all-out assault on Trump’s America. For that, Democrats need to rebuild their small donor base, which has also collapsed. Barack Obama said he's going to try to perform a "delicate dance" and keep a light footprint ahead of the midterms to help rebuild his party. It might require something more than that, which means the danger of the GOP becoming energized like they were in 2016.