Just because the progressive positions that got airtime on the debate stage are broadly popular and sound policy doesn’t mean Democrats should feel the need to embrace them.
As the proud great-great-great-grandson of Norwegian great-great-great-grandparents who came to this great country fleeing the Great Potato Blight in hopes of finding freedom, a better future, and waffle fries, I was appalled by the rhetoric on display during the most recent Democratic primary debates this week.
There were lessons aplenty for liberals following Hillary Clinton’s historic 2016 loss — campaign more in Wisconsin; be more like Republicans; stop calling me racist; quit the whole SJW shtick; don’t be such snowflakes; don’t be mean to conservatives; please stop calling me racist; abandon all of your liberal or progressive values; embrace the corporate ruling class; seriously, you have got to stop calling me racist — but it seems like the Democratic Party has instead learned all the wrong ones.
Rather than follow the path to victory illuminated by Clinton’s resounding landslide defeat where three million more people voted for her than Donald Trump, the entire party has turned overnight into Bolsheviks.
Free health care, free college, not boiling to death while the planet chokes on CO2 — these and other pipe dreams have become de rigueur for wide-eyed Democrats.
My fellow Well-Meaning Conservative® Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah lobbed some dead-on truth bombs at the avatar for this dramatic shift, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, when he described the Democratic Socialist’s proposals and political accomplishments as “all hat, no cattle,” a phrase Mitt learned during his years offshoring thousands of jobs in the haberdasher and beef industries.
With apologies to Bernie Bros., it is a fair point. What has Comrade Sanders ever done?
Other than reframing the Democratic intellectual vanguard, reversing the polarities of national conversations on health care, education, climate change and taxation, and winning a living wage for hundreds of thousands of working Americans who had been living in poverty, has Sen. Sanders ever actually accomplished anything?
Now, as much as these progressives and their sick, evil, not-dying-because-of-preventable-diseases-or-climate-catastrophes-platform terrifies me, I have faith the American people will see through it.
Sure, we voted in Trump, who I continue to bravely yet mildly disagree with on two or three key issues, but I think we can all agree that his rise represents a classic black swan event, a singular aberration in American history.
I mean, we have certainly never had a racist in the White House before now.
But Trump’s ascent shows that even the American voter, a person of unimpeachable character, can be fooled. And that’s what concerns me about this current crop of Democratic hopefuls and their full-bore sprint to left.
(That is, apart from top-tier candidates like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who are mostly still occupying the same centrist positions. And except for Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, red-state upstarts whom mostly reject progressive policies.
And also not counting generic moderate also-rans like Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney, and um, Jim (?) Bullock, the guy who dropped out last month, the guy who looked like Dawson from “Dawson’s Creek” … Wait I think they were the same guy … What was his name?)
Exhibit No. 1: Healthcare. Democrats have moved en masse to adopt Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal as party orthodoxy.
That is, apart from the majority of the candidates who instead offer their own signature watered-down versions designed to keep for-profit insurers, pharma companies and hospitals awash in profits.
These plans, with names like “Medicare for All EXTRA!” and “Medicare About America” and “Medicare for Most” and “Medi-Care to Wager on Your Future?” are ridiculed by the left-wing as insufficient and weak-kneed acquiescing to the insurance lobby.
But that criticism only tracks if you’re not someone bought-and-paid-for by those exact special interests, which these moderate Democrats and most Republicans are. Check and mate.
Medicare for All sounds like a great idea, but polling tells a different story. Sure, 70 percent of American voters support the plan. But what happens when you scream “TAXES!!!” into the phone over and over? Support drops to 25 percent.
Respondents answering the question, “Would you support Medicare for All and/or being kicked in your reproductive organs?” indicated only 18 percent support, matched with 25 percent opposition and 57 percent “I don’t understand this question/please take me off your list.”
When asked if they would support Medicare for All if it meant that a third sequel in the popular “Hangover” movie franchise would be produced, support drops even further. This proves confounding for pundits because there is broad bipartisan support for generic Bradley Cooper– Zack Garifalakis–Ed Helms–Ken Jeong buddy comedies.
Which proves my point. Or does it? (It does.) Americans just aren’t receptive to Sanders’ kooky ideas, having their genitalia assaulted, or Todd Phillips’ bawdy brand of cinematic romps.
Sanders and other advocates of Medicare for All are prepared to completely upend the status quo with a dangerous plan that threatens to remove the perverse profit incentives that guide our health care system and foists lower costs and longer life spans onto the unsuspecting American people.
But let’s not forget, we already have a health care system in place; it’s called “Obamacare” and if you’re a Democrat, you have to accept it as perfect. Those are the rules.
Sure, I may have called for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare in no fewer than 10 op-eds over the years, but I was calling for a more moderate, responsible replacement, and I still contend that my plan to arm hospitals with their own private police forces empowered to arrest sick deadbeats would provide the right market incentives to, uh, innovate, or jobs, or something.
The left wing’s solutions just don’t pass muster.
While it’s true that running on a warmed-over centrist version of “Republican-lite” over the past 11 years, Democrats have ceded control of nearly every chamber of executive, judicial and legislative power on the federal and state levels, just consider that doing literally anything else might make it worse.
Some might call that argument bad faith, and they’re probably right. It’s a matter of public record that until Nov. 8, 2016, I was a registered Republican.
Yeah, fine, I’ve worked as a consultant on numerous Republican congressional campaigns. And sure, it is true that I continue to donate tens of thousands of dollars to conservative PACs devoted to critical issues like fighting compensation for 9/11 first responders and examining the age of consent laws.
What red-blooded conservative hasn’t done these things?
But just trust me. I know what I’m talking about.
All I really, truly want is a levelheaded Democrat to get this monster out of the White House and that is where my ulterior motives end, I swear. But it won’t happen unless Democrats do exactly what I say.
Hopefully, the DNC takes this advice. After all, I just want what’s best for the party and the country. And right now, what the country needs most is a Democrat who’s actually a Republican.
(Please stop calling me a racist.)
The Well-Meaning Conservative is David Quiñones, a Miami-based writer and communications professional.