Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a stark warning for 2020 Democrats: they need to reign in their message and focus on winning moderates instead of progressives. Her reason? She's afraid if a Democrat wins the White House by a slim margin, President Donald Trump will challenge the election results, the New York Times reported. She wants a Democratic win "so big" that Trump can't challenge the results.
“We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Pelosi said. She believes Trump will refuse to "voluntarily" hand over power to the Democrats should someone from their party beat him during the general election.
“If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election,” Peloi explained. “He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people. “We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.”
She also has a warning for other members of her party: stay away from impeachment proceedings. The reason? They'll get squashed in the Republican-controlled Senate and the proceedings could alienate moderate voters who helped the Democrats retake the house during the 2018 midterm elections.
“Own the center left, own the mainstream,” Pelosi said, recounting the Democrats' midterm strategy. “Our passions were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government — a simple message."
“We did not engage in some of the other exuberances that exist in our party," a clear hint at progressives' desire for a Green New Deal and Medicare For All.
Although Pelosi feels that impeachment proceedings are dangerous for Democrats, she doesn't have an issue with her party going after Attorney General William Barr.
From the Times (emphasis mine):
“When you’re looking at Barr, you just think, ‘How could he sell his soul — alleged soul — to Donald Trump,’” Ms. Pelosi told her whip team early Thursday, according to the detailed notes of a person in the room.
Having Mr. Barr as a political target is useful because it allows Democrats to focus their outrage, for a time, on him instead of the president. But increasingly, in public and in private, Ms. Pelosi is suggesting that Mr. Trump’s behavior rises to the level of impeachment, even if she views the process itself as unacceptably dangerous for Democrats.
More than anything, Ms. Pelosi is focused on pursuing center-left policies she thinks will help her party out in 2020 — a focus on pragmatic improvements to health care, ballot access, clean government, immigration and infrastructure, one that emphasizes beating Mr. Trump politically without obsessing over Mr. Trump personally.
In her mind, that means grinding away at initiatives that she hopes will help re-elect new members in battleground districts, even if it risks delivering some achievements for Mr. Trump, and angering some critics on the left.
It will be incredibly interesting to watch how the Democrats head into 2020. Pelosi has struggled to control her caucus, especially with disruptors like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (MI) who have advocated for a progressive agenda. The Left is very evidently going into 2020 divided. There are people like Pelosi and Joe Manchin who want to focus more on the moderate Democrats and potentially pulling some independents to their party.
Running to the center is Pelosi's plan but only time will tell if progressives sit down, shut up and get in line with what she says. My crystal ball is telling Pelosi to "try again."