On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, had some advice for the party in an op-ed for The Guardian. “Democrats shouldn’t focus only on abortion in the midterms. That’s a mistake,” the headline read, also serving as a warning.
The piece was featured as part of Tuesday’s RealClearPolitics picks, as “Democrats Shouldn’t Focus Only on Abortion in '22.”
Sen. Sanders is certainly pro-abortion, and touts his “lifetime 100% pro-choice voting record” in his opening sentence. He also writes that the abortion issue is “a fight that most Americans want us to wage and, given the Republicans’ extremist position on the issue, makes them genuinely vulnerable.”
As he goes on to write in his very next paragraphs:
But, as we enter the final weeks of the 2022 midterm elections, I am alarmed to hear the advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded Super Pacs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion. Cut the 30-second abortion ads and coast to victory.
I disagree. In my view, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go unanswered.
The precipice for the rest of Sanders’ op-ed, then, is to focus on the economy. He charges that Republicans are “anti-workers” and goes on to rant about “income and wealth inequality” and wages. The blame is all on Republicans, with no mention of how the middle and lower classes that he claims to care about have suffered under the Biden administration.
Even the leftist outlet, The New Republic, pointed out in March how Americans associate “middle class” with Republicans.
Further, as Matt highlighted earlier on Tuesday, we could go back to losing 175,000 jobs a month, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight inflation.
And, the legislation that President Joe Biden and the Democrats championed, the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” doesn’t look to help the middle class very much at all. Even Sen. Sanders himself admitted it wouldn’t do much to help with inflation, though he still voted for it.
For all of what he fails to acknowledge, Sen. Sanders does make the most important acknowledgment of all, which is likely the whole reason behind writing the piece, although it’s buried:
Nevertheless, in poll after poll Republicans are more trusted than Democrats to handle the economy – the issue of most importance to people. I believe that if Democrats do not fight back on economic issues and present a strong pro-worker agenda, they could well be in the minority in both the House and the Senate next year.
Given how Democrats still continue to prioritize abortion, it doesn’t appear that they’re taking Sanders advice.
Further, even if Democrats have the edge on the abortion issue for this cycle, especially after the hysteria they’ve ginned up around the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, that doesn’t mean they hold the moral high ground. Far from it.
Virtually all Democratic senators, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) serving as a notable exception, have voted for the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which translates to abortion up until birth without legal limit, for any reason. Democrats even want taxpayers to pay for it and they even want to invalidate pro-life laws passed at the state law. The WHPA will not merely codify Roe, as Democrats claim, but expand it.
Despite his age, Sanders may be looking to run for president in 2024, especially if Biden does not seek re-election. A memo leaked in April indicating he had not ruled out such a run.
On a more amusing note, and perhaps as an inadvertent sign of what’s to come, the opinion piece had to be corrected on Tuesday. It initially stated that Sen. Sanders serves as the “ranking member” of the Senate Budget Committee, when he is its chair. Should Democrats lose their majority status, though, Sanders will no longer be chair and may be relegated to that ranking member status.