Why I Fear a Moderate Democratic Nominee

tags: political history, Democratic Party, presidential history, 2020 Election

Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University


Days before Halloween, even a group of “pro-business Democrats” were doubting the electability of former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They longed for Clinton to jump in, rightly recognizing her as a stronger presidential candidate than these two leading moderates. If Clinton lost to Trump in 2016, how could these weaker moderates defeat a stronger Trump in 2020?

It is a legitimate question, just as it is legitimate for moderates to ask: When has a democratic socialist or a woman calling for structural change ever been elected U.S. president? But when had a Barack Obama or a Donald Trump ever been elected U.S. president?

It is legitimate for moderates to fear that a progressive at the top of the ticket will imperil the reelection chances of House Democrats who won Trump districts during the 2018 midterms. But how can moderate representatives warn against a progressive nominee at the same time they expect progressive representatives to run with a moderate nominee? Both would have difficult tasks in November: moderates winning Trump districts despite the progressive nominee; progressives attracting alienated progressive volunteers and voters in swing states despite the moderate nominee.

It is legitimate for moderates to be concerned about progressive policy proposals driving away some moderates and driving up voting rates within Trump’s conservative base. But where is the concern about all the white swing voters Clinton lost in 2016, even as she failed to turn out the Democratic base? Where is the recognition by moderates that public support for progressive policies has reached a 60-year high?

Moderate fears of a progressive losing to Trump are valid. But progressive fears of a moderate losing to Trump are valid too.

Read entire article at The Atlantic

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