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The Leftward Lurch, Explained

More than one Conservative pundit, including myself, has uttered the phrase. “All they had to do was not be insane.” Yet, what are we seeing from Democrats, even those who hope to be President? Unbridled insanity and a leftward lurch.

As if voting down the Born Alive Act in the Senate wasn’t crazy enough. At the end of this week, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rolled out the Green New Deal. Then 70 members of the House and just about every Democratic hopeful jumped right on the crazy train. Despite the horrific rollout and odd set of FAQs.

This communist trope painted green is not new. The ideas are certainly not original. The origins of the policies and the rhetoric about World War II and FDR can be found as far back as 2008. This progression to the proposed policy will be detailed in later articles.

So why is this coming up now? And why is it being pushed by the Freshman from the Bronx? On Friday I wrote about some of the connections between the sponsors of the Green New Deal and the Tides Foundation. One of the Tides affiliates, Data for Progress, had released a report stunning in it’s similarities to the Green New Deal.

We also found Data for Progress did a study commissioned by the Justice Democrats. Yes. the same Justice Democrats that backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary challenge and eventual election to the House of Representatives. They are also supporters of and likely the primary source for the Green New Deal in its current form.

According to the study, Democrats would benefit electorally by shifting to the far left. The report asserts three main ideas. From the report summary:

This report shows that a pivot toward the “center” is poison with the Democratic primary electorate, using historical data to show the increasing liberalism of Democratic voters on core progressive values. 

This report shows that marginal voters and nonvoters support key progressive policies and could form a durable base for the Democratic Party. 

This report shows that many Democratic incumbents are failing their constituents by opposing progressive policies with broad-based support.

The report goes through data that advocates the three main ideas.

The first is that the base, or those most likely to vote in primary elections, will not tolerate a shift to the center. This means one of two things. Either there is no path for a center-left Democrat through the primary process, or the candidate who pulls left to win the primary will alienate the base if they trend to the center during the general.

Some of the policy preferences the report boasts to have uncovered in the base are as follows:

  • In 2016 for the first time, Democrat voters see racial disparities as discrimination instead of lack of willpower
  • 85% support a pathway to citizenship
  • Support for a $15 minimum wage
  • Repeal of the Hyde Amendment

The data also shows that redistribution and more spending are popular:

“The Future of The Party”, Sean McElwee and Colin McAuliffe, Data for Progress, April 2018
“The Future of The Party”, Sean McElwee and Colin McAuliffe, Data for Progress, April 2018

In addition to discussions of attitudes in the base of primary voters, the second assertion is that among non-voters Democrats are generally favored:

“The Future of The Party”, Sean McElwee and Colin McAuliffe, Data for Progress, April 2018

The final section of the report is closely aligned with what we have heard about the Justice Democrats. It makes the case for replacing Democrats nationwide with more progressive candidates. The group was successful with Cortez, in a deep blue district. They are rumored to be looking at centrist Democrats nationwide to target in 2020.

To support a continued shift to the left, the report makes the case that Democrats in both the House and the Senate are not representing their constituents on key progressive priorities. It suggests that moving left is required for out of step members or they should be replaced.

“The Future of The Party”, Sean McElwee and Colin McAuliffe, Data for Progress, April 2018
“The Future of The Party”, Sean McElwee and Colin McAuliffe, Data for Progress, April 2018

So Elizabeth Warren’s “Tippy Top Tax” is no mistake. In all honesty, according to this study, it probably not punishing success enough for the base. The Green New Deal is strategic. It calls for massive redistribution of wealth and government spending which are also popular.

And ideas like the ballot harvesting law in California and Stacey Abrams being fine with illegal immigrant voting are specifically aimed at turning out sporadic and non-voters. So is selecting candidates who are young, minority or female. You will note that Ocasio-Cortez hits the trifecta. Always remember she is a megaphone, not the driving force behind the nuts and bolts of these policies.

The upside here is that these activists put this all on the internet and tell us exactly what their plans are. It also crystalizes the current political struggle is less about Republicans versus Democrats than it is about collectivism versus individual freedom. They are seeking to remake the Deocrat party, not continue with the status quo.

It also ignores what Eric Weinstein calls “data voids” and what I refer to as nuance. Polling has shown us that Medicare for All support tanks when the realities are polled. This was evidenced by Kamala Harris’ stumble and the backlash when she endorsed eliminating private insurance.

It has also been demonstrated that individuals may support the idea of doing “something” about climate change. But they balk when policy reaches into their wallets.

And in recent weeks, one of the most absurd assertions in this study was tested. It asserts that 58 percent of adults agree with the statement, “Always allow a woman to obtain an abortion as a matter of choice.” The outrage in response to the abortion bills in Virginia and New York would suggest the far left is missing the nuance on this issue once again. So would leading Democrats non-response to the comments of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

It would be a mistake to ignore this very detailed report on the strategies the progressive left plans to employ. They have gotten a taste of success with the election of Ocasio-Cortez and all indications are they plan to continue their quest to remake Congress in a progressive image. Focusing attention on her personally is a mistake. It is the ideas and clearly articulated strategy that require attention.

So it is up to leaders who value individual freedom and federalism to come up with strategies that capture the electorate that the progressives are willing to walk away from. They must identify the nuanced positions that balance the ideals with reality, as was seen with Medicare for All. Then the more complete positions that speak to the details must be packaged as the reasonable alternative.

For those of us on the side of individual freedom and free markets, it is time to believe what the left is telling us about who they are. And develop ways to defend the ideas that have provided more opportunity for more people the world over than any others.

Whether it is blatant anti-Semitism from Representative Ilhan Omar or a set of FAQs that state we need to provide economic security for those unwilling to work, take them at their word. And fight back. The gentlemen’s game is over and we are playing for keeps.

*Note: I am being supported in research for these articles by Rich Weinstein. You can follow Rich on Twitter @phillyrich1


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