Democratic Party strategist Mark Penn, together with Andrew Stein, wrote a piece for The New York Times last week urging the party to come back to the “center” and stop chasing after the Sanders/Warren/Social Justice fringe that represented such a small slice of the American electorate. Clearly concerned that the Democrats are going to waste a golden opportunity for a Washington comeback next November, Penn advised the party leaders to ignore the loud voices calling for an even more progressive approach.
“Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs,” he wrote. “They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.”
When you put Penn’s article together with Peter Beinart’s recent Atlantic piece urging Democrats to find a middle path on illegal immigration, it’s clear that there are strong forces on the left who want to see this party regain relevance on the national stage. And they know that’s never going to happen if the party keeps veering to the hard left.
But the liberals over at Slate called Penn’s article “asinine.” And writers at the Huffington Post, Vox, and Salon have all taken their shots at Beinart and Penn for abandoning the Democratic Party and its (much cherished, in those circles) slide towards abject, anti-American liberalism. These critics think that the success of the Democratic Party lies in the rainbow-colored protests of San Francisco. In the riotous chaos of UC Berkeley. In the writings of Karl Marx. In Black Lives Matter. They see this radical approach to left-wing politics as the ONLY approach, completely oblivious to the fact that the majority of Americans (to quote Paul Ryan) “just aren’t there yet.”
Hopefully, they never will be. And there is a good reason to believe that we won’t. A couple of new studies have shown that while Millennials are ardent leftists when it comes to their politics, their political views are not shared by the generation coming up behind them. The new crop of voters, who will be eligible to head out to the polls in 2018 and beyond, are much more conservative and much more likely to be Trump supporters. The backlash against the Obama years didn’t come and go with the 2016 election; it only began.
Democrats had better beware.