Democratic Party shifts left—but should it?

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Democratic Party shifts left—but should it?

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As U.S. politics become increasingly polarized, the Democratic Party continues to push two messages in particular—progressivism, and unity. However, what the Party fails to recognize is the fact that these messages sadly conflict. As the Party moves further and further to the left by integrating groups like the Democratic Socialists and other far-left organizations, they seem to forget the moderates and anti-Trump conservatives that are vital for Democrats to win nationwide this November and beyond.

Let’s look local first—PMHS alumnus Alessandra Biaggi and liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Each candidate ran significantly to the left flank of their recent primary opponents. Biaggi faced off against liberal pariah State Senator Jeffrey Klein in the race for the New York State Senate District 34 seat, winning by just under 3000 votes. Ocasio-Cortez ran against well-entrenched Representative Joe Crowley for New York’s 14th congressional district seat, winning by a hair with over 4000 votes. Crowley reportedly will remain on a third-party line on the November ballot, meanwhile Ocasio-Cortez has been crowned the new national face of the far-left Democrats.

On a local and even statewide level, we aren’t seeing widespread abandonment of the party in the name of new liberal ideas, but we are seeing inklings. In the latest presidential election, third-party candidates racked up approximately 4.5 percent of the vote combined. Additionally, the centrist Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) of the New York State Senate managed to survive nearly seven years since its formation in 2011, dissolving this past April. The IDC had six members lose in the recent Democratic primary, but all six are currently still on the ballot in November. Two IDC members were victorious in their primary. The modest successes of third-party presidential candidates and the IDC prove that even in a true-blue state, moderates are still looking for ways to make their voices heard. Voters now are starting to take a closer look at the names they bubble in on their ballot, and they aren’t liking what they see. If the Democrats want to retain or even make gains with these types of voters, they cannot keep selecting candidates so far to the left.

The issue with these candidates is not necessarily their political beliefs, but where they take the Democratic Party. As the Party shifts further to the left, it slowly begins to leak voters out of the right side. Anti-Trump conservatives who would be flocking to more moderate Democrats are searching for third-party and Republican alternatives rather than voting for fringe-left Democrats. The same holds true for many centrists, including some who stray only slightly to the left of center. But rather than take advantage of this vast pool of available voters, the party looks to the much smaller groups of Socialists and Greens. Thus, this significant portion of voters is slipping away from the Democrats as they move towards options perceived as more moderate.

Time and time again we’ve seen proof that New York State is about as blue as it can get, so the success of third-party moderates is not as well known. But elsewhere, it is. Recent polling in Oklahoma tells us that Greg Orman, an Independent, is currently pulling in 9 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race in Kansas. Looking at the background of Mr. Orman, we see that he’s exactly the type of moderate that the Democrats are losing voters to. And that’s not the only example. The fact that Gary Johnson—a Libertarian—is polling at 16 percent in a senatorial race in New Mexico and Neal Simon—an Independent—is polling at 8 percent in another senatorial race in Maryland shows us that this trend is just about everywhere.

The American citizens whose votes Democrats should be seeking are telling us that they do not want to be forced to play keep-up with the rapidly turning Democratic Party. Centrists and moderates are unable to justify voting for people who are clearly out of touch with our nation’s state of affairs. If the Democratic Party wants to be able to beat both Republicans and unaffiliated candidates, they need to stop pulling themselves to the left with candidates like Ocasio-Cortez and Biaggi, and instead start searching for the more centrist candidates which the available undecided voters want. It’s time to give moderates a voice in the Party too.