The first rumblings of Democratic candidate discontent came from The Washington Post’s liberal opinion writer Richard Cohen, and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has offered up his two cents. With the 2020 presidential field filling out, it seems die-hard Dems are beginning to panic that party progressives are making a hard left when it’s not needed. And that, they worry, does not constitute a plan to take back the White House in 2020.
Emanuel, the outgoing mayor and Obama White House chief of staff, recently gave his advice on “How Not to Lose to Donald Trump” in The Atlantic. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the channeling of an Elmer Gantry political archetype. Yes, sir, gimme some of that ol’ time Democratic religion because the folks out there jus’ ain’t buyin’ none of dat new-fangled stuff. Let’s hear Rahm out:
“Earth to Democrats: Republicans are telling you something when they gleefully schedule votes on proposals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and a 70 percent marginal tax rate. When they’re more eager to vote on the Democratic agenda than we are, we should take a step back and ask ourselves whether we’re inadvertently letting the political battle play out on their turf rather than our own. If Trump’s only hope for winning a second term turns on his ability to paint us as socialists, we shouldn’t play to type.”
Whoa. Whoa. Wait a minute. If Trump’s only hope for winning a second term turns on his ability to paint us as socialists, we shouldn’t play to type. So, President Trump is causing all these socialists to come out of the woodwork? In this latest political stem-winder, Emanuel essentially mirrored Cohen’s sentiments in The Washington Post. In case you don’t remember, Cohen wrote, “I don’t quite know what a handbasket is, but the Democratic Party is heading in one to electoral hell with its talk of socialism and reparations.”
A First-Rate Huckster?
Could it be that Emanuel is a first-rate huckster? After eight years as mayor of Chicago, Rahm-the-ordinary-Dem leaves the city in what Brits like to call omnishambles. It means a mess no matter which way you look at it. The murder rate when he took office was 463 per year, and when he departed — the homicide rate was 541. Under the steady hand of Emanuel, Chicago went from the murder capital of the U.S. to, well, the murder capital of the U.S.
But let’s not just stop at Democratic incompetence when we can seamlessly move over to corruption. How about the mess Emanuel leaves at the Chicago Public School system? How about the Van Dyke dash-cam video, showing a police officer shooting an African American teen, that Emanuel tried to cover up? The former Clinton and Obama politico could easily have a business card that reads:
Rahm Emanuel Former Chicago Mayor Specializing in: Crime, Corruption & Kickbacks
Oh, he wasn’t charged with taking kickbacks, but his chief of public schools was — you get the picture.
Emanuel makes the point that going full-bore socialist when all of this “old-time religion” still works in getting Dems elected is unnecessary – even risky. But just what is the problem with running on Medicare for all and the Green New Deal and taxing everything that moves?
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll picked up “a clear message for 2020 presidential candidates: keep your socialist hands off our government.” As for the word socialism, “just 18 percent of Americans react positively to the mention of socialism, while 50 percent react negatively.” Then there’s Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight who says, “public opinion is complicated.” He explained that so-called “socialist” goals like greater income redistribution “are often quite popular. But ‘socialism’ as a brand or label is really unpopular.”
Nate Silver – you remember him? The political polling guru who gave Hillary Clinton a 71.4% chance of being elected in 2016. The bottom line is that the Democrats can keep on with their old-time political religion, or they can move to a new policy that gives everyone free stuff but is a concept that most Americans do not believe will work.
Either way, the Dems seem to be experiencing quite a bit of internal turmoil. Shame about that.