Ever heard of the pop band called Panic! At the Disco?
This is a story about Panic! At the Demo - the Democratic Party.
More pithy remarks and “words of wisdom” have been attributed to Will Rogers than to any other American this side of Mark Twain.
If Rogers, the Cowboy Confucius, really did say, though, “I don’t belong to any organized party: I’m a Democrat,” it was precisely because of situations such as this.
Two weeks out from the top of their political ticket receiving more votes than any candidate in American history, the Democratic Party is engaging in internecine warfare that threatens to derail their era of good feelings before it even begins. Here’s the problem: The anticipated and predicted “blue wave” – in which Democratic candidates up and down every ballot would wash out their Republican opponents – never materialized. Indeed, the GOP sliced into the Democrats’ edge in the House.
As a result, panic has set in and some within the party are attacking the more progressive wing for being too bold.
In recorded comments a day after she barely survived a Republican challenge, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats that the just-concluded election was “a failure” and predicted the party would suffer huge losses in 2022 if it did not, in essence, renounce its progressive wing.
Congressman James Clyburn, D- S.C., echoed Spanberger’s sentiments, stating unequivocally that “defund the police” and other “sloganeering” cost the Democrats seats.
Clyburn’s political instincts of late have been unerring – it was his endorsement, after all, that pulled Biden’s floundering primary campaign out of a tailspin – but Spanberger’s and his explanations for the Democrats’ disappointing showing can be summed up in one word: Hogwash.
President-elect Biden received 77 million votes, and two senate seats in formerly red state Georgia will be decided by a runoff. Somebody was buying what the Democrats were selling.
Will Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and other Democratic elected officials move to the center on their more extravagant promises once they take office?
If they don’t, it’ll be the first time: all successful politicians do.
Blaming the party’s progressive wing for the blue wave being a wash out is shortsighted and possibly self-destructive. Sure, the Republicans spent big bucks – according to Spanberger, they spent “millions upon millions upon millions of dollars… shellacking us” – associating Democrats with street chants of “defund the police."
Frankly, it’s darn nigh impossible to find a legitimate political candidate who made "defund the police" – admittedly, a contender for the worst slogan and idea ever - a part of her or his platform.
Did talk among some Democrats of a Green New Deal or Medicare for All cause some voters to go Republican?
That’s possible, but it’s equally possible that the bold proposals got other voters off the couch and into the polling booth to mark the “D” on their ballots.
The late Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, an unabashed liberal, summed it up best: if you give voters a choice between a Republican and a Republican, he said, they’ll choose the Republican every time.
That isn’t to say Democrats should march in lockstep with their leaders: any party that professes to welcome all under its “big tent” must be willing to debate issues and disagree on them. Voters need a choice, and trying to decide between a Republican and a Republican lite is no choice for many.
The worst thing Democrats can do is start panicking after their party’s historic victory. What they, and we, should be celebrating is the fact the 150 million people cast ballots in the presidential election.