Monday, March 4, 2019
Democrats Need to Think Big : not Small
There is a dizzying array of potential presidential nominees for Democratic primary voters to choose from: so many that they won’t even fit on one debate stage. But there is one basic choice the party will have to make: Will it nominate someone based on perceived electability, which is usually code for incremental policy ideas and a long political career, or a fresh-faced progressive reformer with big ideas? This isn’t a new idea; both parties have embraced this line of thinking in the past. The problem is that it rarely works. If history is any judge, the promise of incremental change and working across the aisle isn’t realism; it’s a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Barack Obama ran as the great unifier. After becoming president, he attempted to govern by reaching out to Republicans with moderate Republican ideas, exemplified by his health-care plan. He embraced wrongheaded Republican tax cuts that weakened his stimulus plan. He nominated a moderate, pro-corporate judge to the Supreme Court. Yet he received scorched-earth opposition, with Republicans scorning every major entreaty. And Republicans are now even more extreme post-Trump than they were in the Obama era. So before Democrats and the media elevate those with incremental-reform ideas as the pragmatic realists, they might want to take a long look at recent history and think again. In the end, Democrats might do better voting with their hearts than with their heads.