Democrats em­brace lib­eral poli­cies, gal­lop left in 2020 bids

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard has been serv­ing in the House for years, but it wasn’t un­til this year, as she eyes the White House, that she signed onto a res­o­lu­tion that en­vi­sions repa­ra­tions to black Amer­i­cans for the legacy of slav­ery.

For­mer Rep. Beto O’Rourke watched for years as fenc­ing di­vided his home city of El Paso from Mex­ico, but it wasn’t un­til he was tak­ing on Pres­i­dent Trump — and as il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion soared in El Paso — that he sug­gested it might be time to tear it down.

Busi­ness­man An­drew Yang, mean­while, carved out a niche all his own this week, em­brac­ing a push to end male cir­cum­ci­sion.

“I’m highly aligned with the in­tac­tivists,” Mr. Yang told The Daily Beast, hav­ing some fun with world play. “His­tory will prove them even more cor­rect.”

Em­bold­ened by the 2018 midterm elec­tions, the lib­eral wing of the Demo­cratic Party is de­mand­ing its 2020 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates em­brace their most ag­gres­sive ideas for so­cial change — and many of the can­di­dates have com­plied.

Dar­rell M. West, di­rec­tor of gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, said pro­gres­sives have earned greater in­flu­ence af­ter help­ing power Democrats’ mas­sive gains in House seats in the 2018 elec­tions, and their agenda now dom­i­nates the party’s de­bate.

“That of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties in terms of voter mo­bi­liza­tion and cam­paign en­ergy, but risks mov­ing the party out of the po­lit­i­cal main­stream,” he said. “Much of the elec­torate still is in the mid­dle, so the party has to be care­ful not to move too far to the left.”

For the can­di­dates al­ready in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race, though, there’s lit­tle sense that any brake-pump­ing is com­ing.

This week alone, Mass­a­chu­setts Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren an­nounced for the first time that she wants to scrap the Elec­toral Col­lege.

Sen. Cory A. Booker soft­ened his op­po­si­tion to end­ing the fil­i­buster, cater­ing to lib­eral ac­tivists ea­ger to win the White House, take con­trol of the Se­nate and push through ma­jor changes such as uni­ver­sal gov­ern­ment-spon­sored health care and tu­ition-free col­lege.

Abol­ish­ing U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, de­crim­i­nal­iz­ing pros­ti­tu­tion and em­brac­ing a Green New Deal also have been kicked around by the can­di­dates, all of whom are try­ing to en­tice var­i­ous de­mo­graph­ics of the sprawl­ing Demo­cratic coali­tion.

For­mer Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this month warned that some of the pro­pos­als play into the hands of Mr. Trump, who has painted the Demo­cratic field as a bunch of so­cial­ists.

“Earth to Democrats: Repub­li­cans are telling you some­thing when they glee­fully sched­ule votes on pro­pos­als like the Green New Deal, Medi­care for all and a 70 per­cent mar­ginal tax rate,” Mr. Emanuel, a for­mer con­gress­man who served in both the Clin­ton and Obama White Houses, wrote in The At­lantic. “When they’re more ea­ger to vote on the Demo­cratic agenda than we are, we should take a step back and ask our­selves whether we’re in­ad­ver­tently let­ting the po­lit­i­cal bat­tle play out on their turf rather than our own.”

Oth­ers are more op­ti­mistic, say­ing the way some can­di­dates have rushed to the left has helped de­fine a de­bate that will play out in the marathon nom­i­na­tion race.

“The fact that there are 20 can­di­dates has caused them to be more com­pet­i­tive in terms of ideas,” said for­mer South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges. “It is re­ally hard for a can­di­date to dis­tin­guish them­selves from 19 oth­ers and one way to do that is to lay our new and spe­cific pro­pos­als.”

Mr. Hodges said some plans ap­peal to the lib­eral base of the party and oth­ers are more in tune with the cen­trist vot­ers.

But he said he’s not wor­ried about what emerges, point­ing to the large 2016 Re­pub­li­can field, which saw a rush to the right that pro­duced Mr. Trump and left Democrats con­fi­dent of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s vic­tory.

“That is what we be­lieved was go­ing to hap­pen three years ago for the Re­pub­li­can Party — how did that work out for us?” he said.

Lib­eral vot­ers emerged from 2016 con­vinced Mrs. Clin­ton lost be­cause she wasn’t bold enough on pro­gres­sives’ is­sues, es­chew­ing op­po­nent Sen. Bernard San­ders’ calls for a Medi­care-for-All health plan and other for­merly far-left stances.

Now, Mr. San­ders’ po­si­tions are a start­ing point for the 2020 field.

“The ideas that we were talk­ing about then were con­sid­ered by estab­lish­ment politi­cians and main­stream me­dia to be ‘rad­i­cal’ and ‘ex­treme’ — ideas, they said, that no­body in Amer­ica would sup­port,” Mr. San­ders said at rally this week.

But even Mr. San­ders, who has pop­u­lar­ized the push for Medi­care-for-All and tu­ition-free col­lege, has faced a bar­rage of crit­i­cism from the left for not fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Cas­tro, who has touted repa­ra­tions as a se­ri­ous cam­paign is­sue.

The is­sue has been a non-starter on Capi­tol Hill for years, where for­mer Rep. John Cony­ers Jr. reg­u­larly pro­posed H.R. 40 — a ref­er­ence to the “40 acres and a mule” prom­ise of Re­con­struc­tion — to study repa­ra­tions for slav­ery.


Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard, Hawaii Demo­crat, has signed a onto a res­o­lu­tion that would give repa­ra­tions to the de­scen­dants of en­slaved Amer­i­cans.

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