Presidential candidates from both parties usually sound hard-core in the primaries to appeal to their progressive or conservative bases. But for the general election, the nominees move to the center to pick off swing voters and centrist independents.
Voters put up with the scripted tactic as long as a candidate had not gone too extreme in the primaries and endorsed positions too far out of the mainstream.
A good example of this successful ploy was
As a general election candidate, Obama rejected the idea of gay marriage. He blasted illegal immigration. He railed against deficit spending. And he went so far as to label then-President
The result was that Obama was elected. After taking office, in cynical fashion he endorsed gay marriage, ran up far more red ink than did Bush, offered blanket amnesties and relaxed immigration enforcement.
Yet the current crop of would-be Democratic nominees has forgotten the old script entirely. Nearly all of them are currently running so hard to the left that the successful nominee will never be able to appear moderate.
The entire field seems to agree that it should not be a criminal offense to enter the
Not a single Democratic candidate has expressed reservations about abortions, and a number of them have fought proposed restrictions on partial-birth abortions.
Early in the campaign, no major Democratic candidate has questioned the Green New Deal and its radical proposals. No one has much objected to dismantling
Yet none of these positions currently wins 51 percent of public support, according to polls.
What are the Democratic frontrunners thinking?
Maybe the candidates assume that the present Democratic Party is so radical and so steeped in identity politics that everyone must run to the left of all other rivals, even if insincerely so. Then, once nominated, the survivor can back off from his or her earlier radicalism, move to the center in the general election and hope that voters prefer a centrist hypocrite to an unapologetic radical.
A second theory is that we are watching a sort of progressive feeding frenzy. Twenty or so candidates have become disconnected from reality. In their echo chamber, they have no idea that they are talking radical nonsense.
A third possibility is that the Democratic candidates believe the polling on these issues is wrong. They may assume that the American people either have moved hard left and really do believe in a radical agenda, or can be persuaded with enough time and effort.
There is a fourth hypothesis. It may be that the Democratic Party would rather lose in a fashion it considers noble than win insincerely.
Maybe the goal for Democratic candidates is to advance the hard-left cause, even if
Such blind idealism is not unprecedented in American electoral history. Republican nominee
Goldwater and McGovern lost in landslides. Yet eventually, true-blue conservative
If all of these explanations seem far out, it's only because the current Democratic candidates sound far out -- as if they either don't know how to win in 2020 or don't care to win at all.
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