Yascha Mounk and Matt Bennett discuss how perception of the Democratic Party has fallen out of sync with its stated positions.
There are currently four Native Americans serving in Congress. The two Native Democrats, Sharice Davids and Mary Peltola, don't get much national press because they're moderates. The two Native Republicans, Tom Cole and MarkWayne Mullin, don't get any national press for being Native because they're pale and because "Native American Republican" feels like an oxymoron to many journalists. In addition, Yvette Harrell is a Cherokee Republican who lose her U.S. Rep seat this last election. Native American leftist political activists dominate the press coverage but us Natives live across the entire political spectrum. I'm a lefty/liberal Democrat Indian and I've got cousins who are MAGA Indians.
Election deniers proliferate in the Democrat party. And many are still clutching to the old massive lie of Trump-Russia collusion. However, that somehow escaped them being branded as "extremists".
So I call a bit of BS on this claim that moderate candidates carried the day. What carried the day was MSM and big tech manipulation of the narrative that successfully branded Republican candidates as extremists (while mostly holding traditional Republican views), while patting Democrat candidates as normies (even though they held radical views.)
Media manipulation of the electorate is in Democrat control. They have the MSM, big tech, the big money doners, the support of the billionaire boys club that owns the MSM thought their Wall Street holdings. They spent money to successful get the right Republican candidate elected in the primaries, and then went to work on the negative branding on the candidate and Republicans in general. It was effective.
I appreciate that Mr. Bennett is a professional, working to advance the cause of the Democratic party. Nevertheless I have two concerns in this conversation: First, when Yascha asks why the Democratic brand is "toxic," the subject Bennett mentions is "socialism." Certainly that's a meaningful problem Democrats encounter with the electorate, but I think that at present fringe "woke" social issues, like "Latinx," "Pregnant Persons," and public school silliness damage the party more seriously with the public.
Second, while I strongly dislike many of Ron DeSantis's political views, I object to grouping him with Mr. Trump as an anti-democratic authoritarian. I think it's not only untrue, but intentionally deceptive.
Much of what "progressives" do is to start with a grain of truth--it's not like racism isn't a real problem--and exaggerate it into a lie. (Which is a very different thing from starting with an unambiguous lie: Biden stole the election, Obama was born in Kenya.) If mainstream liberalism could do a better job of figuring out how to support one and oppose the other, I think we'd do okay. And I think the privilege/guilt thing is a problem here.
One of the reasons I'm reluctant to read or listen to interviews with partisans is that they can't help being . . . so partisan. After an excellent discussion about the Democratic party's very bad branding problems, and the many indications that voters are both persuadable and sane, Bennett winds up having to defend Kamala Harris as a potential presidential nominee.
He is clearly wise enough to know that she is probably the most prominent problem the party has with bad branding, and has shown herself incapable of getting any better. For me, the gap between Bennett's solid articulation of the problem and his loyalty to his party pretty much erases the good sense he clearly has. And the prestige of Air Force Two and incumbency only make Harris a more frightening choice for anyone looking for both moderation and competence in a candidate.
The pundits write and talk endlessly about "mainstream candidates". Not to belabor the obvious, but a candidate viewed as mainstream in one local election or congressional district may not be viewed as mainstream in another local election or congressional district. Which party, Republicans or Democrats, can better pick, not perfectly pick, candidates who will be viewed as mainstream? I suspect that Democrats, who focus more on national politics, are at a disadvantage compared to Republicans, who are better positioned in local politics.
It's true that a competitive primary season may give a lesser-known candidate the visibility to become a strong candidate in a state or national election. However, Hillary Clinton's tussle with Bernie Sanders may have had the opposite effect. The nation already perceived Clinton's strengths and weaknesses before the primaries. Seeing those strengths and weaknesses every day during primary season was a bit tiresome for the electorate.
I fully agree that if Biden does not run, a contested primary would be much better than a coronation for Harris. Being challenged by a candidate closer to the center could improve her ability to balance progressive stances with the need to win swing voters. And who knows, a more moderate candidate just might win, if they can stir up enough mainstream Democrats unhappy with the power of an unrepresentative activist left.
This was a good conversation, but Bennett's partisanship does come through. If we're going to conclude that "there's no moral equivalence between the extremists on the far left and the extremists on the far right", and emphasize the modern far right's terminology comes from old "America First", then it's worth also mentioning that the far left's "Social Justice" is Father Coughlin's own language.
One aspect of the "image problem" that Mr. Bennett and other Democratic centrists avoid ever mentioning is the purge of pro-life Democrats from the party. Aside from Bob Casey and Joe Manchin -- and questionable pro-choice converts like Dick Durbin and Joe Biden -- I can't think of a surviving pro-life officeholder with a "D" after his or her name.
If Democrats had kept with the Bill Clinton message that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare", I for one would probably be a Democrat, instead of an Independent who usually votes for Democrats, and I know that I'm not alone. The Dems left a winnable slice of the electorate behind when they stopped talking to us.
Stacey Abrams lost (in part) because she is a nut case. Her line about a six-week "manufactured" heartbeat was laughable. She was/is nuts. A few links should make this clear "Stacey Abrams lambasted for being in 'insane wing' of Democrat Party after debate dig at Georgia sheriffs" (https://www.foxnews.com/media/stacey-abrams-lambasted-insane-wing-democrat-party-debate-dig-georgia-sheriffs) and "Why Stacey Abrams Is Still Saying She Won" (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/28/magazine/stacey-abrams-election-georgia.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=C451B05466781F9E11258E07325CE542&gwt=regi&assetType=REGIWALL) and "Raffensperger Defeats Stacey Abrams' "Stolen Election" Claims in Court" (https://sos.ga.gov/news/raffensperger-defeats-stacey-abrams-stolen-election-claims-court).
I hate the woke left as much as anyone, but Third Way is just the worst of everything. They represent the woke corporate oligarchal warmongering uniparty. So much of what they like is just as repellent to the average voter as the "socialism" brand may be.