I am willing to bet you haven’t heard of Josh Gottheimer or Clarke Tucker, Democratic nominees for the House who are labelled as moderates. I’m even more willing to bet that you have heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez, who managed to oust Representative Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last June, has rapidly become the face of the left’s surge towards socialist policies. Her platform embraces ideas such as Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, and a federal jobs guarantee.
I can’t pretend to disagree with these policies; ideally, all Americans would embrace creating a society that is beneficial for everyone instead of leaving so many underprivileged to fend for themselves. However, the Democratic Party is vulnerable enough already without having to endure an internal civil war. Promoting far-left candidates will weaken the party’s voter base and subvert moderate policies, a huge problem considering they are desperate to win control back from Trump’s grasp.
According to the Pew Research Center, Republicans and Democrats are currently more ideologically divided than they have been at any other point in the last two decades. The hostility between the two parties has also increased immensely, with the share in each party with a highly negative view of the opposing party having more than doubled since 1994. America needs an influx of moderate politicians willing to mend this divide, not a flood of far-left candidates bent on angering conservatives as much as possible.
This intense hatred between the two parties means that far-left candidates would be an issue for Democrats once they’re in the Senate just as much as they are outside of it. In recent years, the legislative branch has been slow moving, unable to pass much legislation due to ongoing struggles to compromise. Liberals would struggle to follow through on any of their plans if their representatives prioritize policies that conservatives refuse to get on board with.
It is unlikely for the Democrats to win back the Senate–FiveThirtyEight reports a 7 in 9 chance Republicans keep control–though it is not impossible. To win, they not only have to gain two Republican-held seats, but also hold on to all of their vulnerable seats in states such as Florida and West Virginia. This will be helped by moderate Democrats willing to reason with voters and promote a variety of policies, not passionate socialists.
A key example is Kirsten Gillibrand, a Senator from New York who has been known as a conservative Democrat, and a centrist. Although her beliefs are liberal and she supports ideas such as abortion rights and single-payer healthcare, she focuses on compromise rather than conflict. A Salon editorial has described her as “a hybrid politician who has remained conservative enough to keep her seat while appearing progressive enough to raise money downstate.” These are the type of Democratic politicians we need.
Although I largely agree with policies promoted by far-left candidates and admire the effect this election has had on promoting diversity in gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, these issues can wait. Having spent the last couple years enduring policy changes such as the travel ban, environmental regulations, and tax cuts, the Democrats should take what they can get and focus primarily on gaining back influence.