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COLUMN: The new wave of progressives need to takeover the Democratic Party


andrew

I don't like to criticize democrats, but they need to change -- drastically.

The current Democratic Party fails to represent average Americans. It’s controlled by establishment centrists that have been corrupted by corporate donations. If they want to defeat the Republicans at the mid-terms, they need to truly embrace the new wave of progressives into the party, like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I know the standard argument that centers the Democratic strategy is to run moderate candidates. They're afraid running on a “far left” template would drive away moderates and crossover conservatives. It’s an understandable concern, but is simply not true. In fact, it would most likely have the opposite effect.

America is leaning to the left more than most people realize. When you take a look at the polls for various policy positions, Americans tend to lean to more what are considered liberal solutions.

This becomes very clear when we look at one of the most popular ideas of the new wave of progressives: Medicare for all. 

According to a recent Reuters poll, 70 percent of all Americans support Medicare for all, including 52 percent of republicans. A lot of people might find that surprising-- what’s considered by many to be a liberal pipe dream is favorably viewed by over half of republicans!

When it comes to economics, Americans tend to lean left as well. An article from The Hill said 74 percent of Americans want to increase the minimum wage to at least $9 an hour. Additionally, according to a Reuters poll, a similar number of people want to raise taxes on the rich. Again, the Bernie Sander’s model seems to align with what the average American wants.

It’s clear that progressives represent what the country wants, so why don’t the Democrats embrace this new liberal movement? The Democratic party seems hell-bent on sticking with the outdated strategy of “moderates win”. The 2016 election and the moderate they ran, and lost, against Donald Trump, should have been a wake-up call that this strategy doesn’t work.

So why don’t they learn the lesson? If you ask me, they simply don’t want to. 

Like the Republicans, the Democrats receive large amounts of campaign financing through PACs and interest groups. In this current election cycle alone, democrats have raised tens of millions of dollars from industries that include finances, defense, and communications, according to OpenSecrets.org.

It’s not a large leap in logic to conclude they will listen to what their big donors want, rather than what the average American wants. So instead of running on popular policy ideas, the Democrats run on generic talking points, and non-policy slams on Trump. 

This lack of policy focus leads to a barely formed platform, which leads to lack of excitement from the voters. 

Think about it, what comes to mind when someone says the name Bernie Sanders? Perhaps “socialist," but also policy positions like Medicare for all, free college and campaign finance reform. Perhaps you don’t agree with his message, but you can’t deny that he has an extremely a clear one.

Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who contradicted herself throughout her campaign and ran on generic talking points. It’s hard to associate any policies with her because she lacked a clear message for her presidential campaign. She never could generate any real excitement for her campaign. 

This showed when Sanders and Clinton held campaign rallies in New York ahead of the state primaries there. According to Business Insider, Sanders drew a crowd of over 27,000 people, while Clinton only drew around 1,300 people.

These lessons can be applied to the current Michigan gubernatorial race. A more centrist leaning candidate, Gretchen Whitmer, faced a Sanders-backed candidate, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. El Sayed wanted to bring Medicare for all to Michigan, among many other progressive platforms.

Yet despite its popularity, Whitmer's website she only wants to “expand” Medicaid. 

It seems no one in this party learns any lessons.

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