Friday, December 2, 2016

Democratic Party’s Risk in Moving to Left

From the new head of the Democratic National Committee to the Democratic leadership in Congress, Democrats may shift to the left as they absorb the loss of the presidency and continued minority status in the House and Senate. Democratic Party state chairs are meeting in Denver today. They are, no doubt, thinking most closely about what will help in their 2017 and 2018 elections.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Senator Elizabeth Warren made it clear she intends on opposing the new Trump administration as representing Wall Street, K Street, banks and corporations. She is the primary champion of the pro regulation, anti-tax cut approach. Is moving to the left on regulation and taxes a good 2018 midterm or 2020 strategy?

It is too early to determine the level of support for the left-liberal position. Much will depend on Donald Trump’s success the first year, but history would suggest caution. Democrats have a host of Senate seats to hold in 2018, many in pro Trump or competitive states. Also, the effort to rebuild their gubernatorial ranks after the losses during the Obama years will require candidates who are less ideological and more common sense. Defaming Wall Street and corporations or promoting federal regulation may not be especially in favor during the next election cycle. Also, it seldom works in competitive states that require appealing to centrist voters.

The Democratic Party’s move to the left after 1968 produced few gains in House or Senate in the 1970 midterm and a historic presidential level loss in 1972 with George McGovern. He carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Warren’s Wall Street Journal interview was particularly hostile to business and pro-regulation. She sounds so “2016”:
Class Warfare
The clearest point that comes out of this election is that the American people do not want Wall Street to run their government. They do not want corporate executives to be the ones who are calling the shots in Washington.
Whether people were voting for Hillary Clinton or whether they were voting for Donald Trump, they weren’t voting for Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s deregulatory mix—let guys do whatever they want to do, let giant corporations do whatever they want to do.
Massachusetts politicians have a poor record of leading the Democratic Party to the White House – Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and John Kerry. Ms. Warren’s resume of tenured Harvard law professor is not a currently popular job description.

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