New Republic - July 2018
"... In 2016, Democratic voters nearly rejected centrism outright, as the primary campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders proved more popular than expected. Nudged partly by Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s platform in 2016 veered further left than her platform eight years earlier. But on paper, her candidacy represented everything that Third Way Democrats seem to want. She had extensive political experience and a strong donor base. Her policies were detailed. She largely rejected Sanders’s platform, articulated a clear, incremental policy vision, and professed a belief in American greatness at the same time. And then she lost."
The centrists can hear the silence.
At last week’s inaugural Opportunity 2020 conference in Columbus, Ohio, one moderate Democrat after another acknowledged that all the noise in the party comes from the left wing. “There is no question there is a lot of volume and emotion and energy around the more activist wing of our party,” said Jim Himes, a U.S. representative from Connecticut who chairs the New Democrats, a coalition of 68 business-friendly House Democrats. “It’s accurate to say most of the energy on Twitter is on the far left, and a lot of the energy in Washington is on the far left,” Matt Bennett, Third Way’s vice president of public affairs, told BuzzFeed. “The only narrative that has been articulated in the Democratic Party over the past two years is the one from the left,” former Delaware Governor Jack Markell told NBC News.
But these centrists feel that many Democrats, maybe even most of them, are being drowned out by the left. “If you look throughout the heartland, there’s a silent majority who just wants normalcy, just wants to see that people are going to go out to Washington and fight for them in a civil way and get something done,” said Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “There’s a lot of people that just don’t really like protests and don’t like yelling and screaming.”
There are certainly some Democrats who feel that way. And it is certainly true that voters in some districts prefer moderate Democrats to their left-wing alternatives, as shown by the recent elections of Representative Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania and Senator Doug Jones in Alabama. But there is increasingly less evidence to support the notion, pushed by many leaders at last week’s conference, that there is a widespread hunger in today’s Democratic Party today for political compromise and moderate policies. Party leaders might be centrist, but the base is not. ...
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