Columnist Kim Strassel noted Thursday that it shouldn’t be hard to describe the state of the Democratic Party today: it’s the ‘Lefties vs. Crazy Lefties.”
That distinction has been a key legacy of the Democratic debates so far, she writes in the Wall Street Journal. Whereas former President Barack Obama was widely assessed to be “the most liberal president in American history,” Strassel insists that today’s contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are all attempting to make Obama look moderate by comparison.
“This summer’s debates have been primarily useful for highlighting how radically the Democratic Party has shifted. Barack Obama can fairly be described as the most liberal president in American history—from his command-and-control regulatory regime to the Affordable Care Act, from his tax hikes to his activist judges. Yet the entire Democratic primary field is now rebuking his agenda as small and weak, if not proto-Trumpian,” she writes.
The result has been a rigorous leftward shift for the Democrats, Strassel argues.
“The debates have highlighted important policy distinctions. But in the context of this overall leftward shift, they are rightly measured on a sliding scale from “lefty” to “absolutely nuts.” And it’s only the presence of the real radicals that allows commentators to get away with suggesting any of these policies are remotely “centrist” or “moderate.”
Strassel contends that although Obama pushed a progressive environmental agenda, he at least saw natural gas as an acceptable alternative to oil and coal. He even facilitated oil exploration. But today’s Democrats are all echoing what used to be a far-left sentiment: “keep it in the ground.”
The candidates are also critical that Obama actually deported illegal aliens and tried to manage the borders as if they were actual security barriers and not meaningless demarcations. Strassel writes that former Vice President Joe Biden made a half-hearted attempt to justify Obama’s border policy before declaring that robust deportations would not occur under a Biden administration. (RELATED: DHS Veterans Blast Democrats For Wanting To Decriminalize Illegal Immigration)
“There is little respect from law and order — or for the police officers who try to enforce both, Strassel writes. “On the topic of law and order, not a single candidate spoke in defense of hundreds of thousands of police officers who daily risk their lives for public safety. They instead nodded along with descriptions of police systems as ‘criminal,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘broken.’”
Although Democrats have been accused of being the “tax and spend” party for decades, Strassel argues that the party has become obsessed with taxing every conceivable impulse in the American polity. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Says Middle Class Will Pay More In Taxes)
“The crazies want to tax everyone and everything—financial transactions, carbon, bank liabilities, sales, wealth, income, families. Mr. Sanders has outright said he will raise taxes on the middle class, while Ms. Warren has all but admitted as much. The ordinary lefties merely want to raise taxes on capital, estates, businesses, payrolls and higher incomes.”
Strassel writes that while the Democrats are pursuing a carbon-free world of strict gun control and “Medicare for All” they might be losing their audience in the process because Americans are not just reluctant to embrace socialism, they largely despise it.
“The Democratic Party seems to be banking that voters dislike Mr. Trump so much that they’ll accept any alternative. That’s an enormously risky bet.”