Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was supposed to be an idealistic dynamo, a fresh and exciting politician who would help lead Democrats into the future. It…hasn’t worked out that way.
Instead, AOC has been a trainwreck of embarrassing and politically-toxic proposals, alliances with the party’s worst members, utterly-insipid lines of inquiry, and an utter inability to handle criticism.
Charles Kolb, Deputy Assistant to the late former President George H.W. Bush, has penned an op-ed in the Daily Caller to discuss the problem Democrats like AOC present to Nancy Pelosi’s visions of Democrat dominance. He notes that the disciplined House Speaker effectively retook the chamber by enforcing a laser-focus on healthcare messaging, and explains that these newer leftists threaten to undermine their efforts to stay similarly focused for 2020:
Now we see freshmen representatives like Katie Hill serving as vice-chair of the House Oversight Committee, and AOC standing aside Sen. Ed Markey (in the House and Senate a combined 43 years), announcing the Green New Deal. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib talks Trump impeachment, contrary to Pelosi’s decision to drop it (at least for now). Then there’s Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose anti-Israel comments provoked a bipartisan backlash resulting in passage of an anti-bigotry resolution that overshadowed passage of H.R. 1, the House leadership’s signature 2019 democracy-overhaul legislation […]
How will the Democrats reconcile Beto, Biden, Booker, Bernie, and Buttigieg? Will there be room for centrist business-friendly candidates like John Hickenlooper and Howard Shultz?
Shultz has already challenged the “free stuff” crowd (aka the “New Socialists”) on how to fund free college, Medicare for all, guaranteed jobs, and the Green New Deal. How will candidates address lingering racial concerns (Virginia’s governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general), Silicon Valley, and Wall Street? Can Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar survive issues about how they handled internal staffing concerns? Will Elizabeth Warren’s weak campaign launch hurt her?
Branding and message discipline are to politics what AOC is to wine. You can’t just slap any old label on a political candidate these days, because the American public wants more details. If the Democrats try to market a single varietal (e.g., “anybody but Trump”), they are unlikely to get very far. Reconciling their substantive policy positions and resolving the internal contradictions displayed by their growing cast of candidates will require considerable dexterity.
It’s an interesting question. Pelosi is as extreme as any of them, but smart enough to know that you don’t tell middle America that, for instance, you want to give their money to Planned Parenthood until after there’s nothing they can do about it. She also understands that rants like what Ilhan Omar is quickly becoming famous for are a liability. AOC and Rashida Tlaib, by contrast, show little patience for faking normalcy or playing the long game.
Still, I would caution conservatives against assuming Democrats will just destroy themselves.
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are currently the Dems’ frontrunners, and as entertaining as it would be to imagine Sanders trying to sell straight-up socialism to the public and getting demolished by Donald Trump in the debates, it’s hard to believe the party would take a gamble on him. By contrast, Biden — part of an administration that got elected twice and a experienced, charismatic liberal that, while gaffe-prone, still enjoys an affable-uncle public image — is a very real threat, one compounded by the danger that MAGA voters’ enthusiasm may wane over his handling of the border.
So internal Democrat strife is fun to watch, but make no mistake: victory is by no means guaranteed. We have a lot of hard work ahead of ourselves over the next two years if we want to save the four years after that.
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