Socialist agenda will prove disastrous for Democrats

Socialist agenda will prove disastrous for Democrats
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On July Fourth, the Statue of Liberty had an unexpected visitor attempting to scale the monument. For nearly three hours, Therese Patricia Okoumou sat atop the statue’s pedestal to visibly demonstrate the vehemence of protest specifically to the immigration policies of Donald Trump. Okoumou was drawing attention to the growing movement behind abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

She was emphatic that should would not move “until all of the children are released,” and threatened the New York City Police Department as they climbed to bring her to safety. All the while, Liberty Island had to turn away as many as 3,000 patriotic tourists on July Fourth because of Okoumou’s actions. After being released, Okoumou spoke to reporters wearing a t-shirt that read, “White Supremacy Is Terrorism.”

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Her actions were apparently isolated, but reflect the larger dynamic occurring within the party of far left voters and candidates calling themselves Democratic Socialists. The Democratic Socialists explicitly reject capitalism, saying in their platform that they oppose “an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.”

The movement has grown. The Democratic Socialists of America boast 85 chapters nationwide, and since the 2016 presidential election, the organization has added around 35,000 members. They project to have their first member of Congress this year with the anticipated election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently won the primary for New York’s 14th district on a Democratic Socialist platform, and by securing 100 elected positions nationwide in down-ballot races.

In fact, the Democratic Socialists added more than 1,000 members the day following Ocasio-Cortez’s victory. They expect that if she wins in November, the victory would mark the first election of an avowed socialist in approximately 100 years, symbolizing a decisive and perhaps irrevocable break with the center-left policies of the Clinton administration in the 1990s, which emphasized fiscal discipline, a balanced budget, welfare reform, and tough criminal and drug policies.

Rather than distancing himself from candidates like Ocasio-Cortez, who supports “Medicare for All,” abolishing ICE, and guaranteeing jobs, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE says that Ocasio-Cortez actually “represents the future of our party.” The Democratic Socialist platform also includes unequivocal support for the Palestinians, making no mention of Israel or the peace process. Ocasio-Cortez herself referred to Israel as an “entity” in her successful primary campaign.

This movement exemplified by Ocasio-Cortez is not isolated to New York. In Texas, Franklin Bynum, who wants to end the cash bail system in Harris County, won the Democratic nomination to become a criminal court judge. Avowed socialist and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous of Maryland similarly follows suit. He calls for “Medicare for All” and free college. He says the government will be able to afford these programs after accomplishing his proposal to end mass incarceration.

Those running for Congress on the Democratic Socialist platform have enthusiastically embraced a plan to impeach the president as well. Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandMidterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street McConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Dem senator: Kavanaugh would 'turn back the clock' on women's health care MORE of New York and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders: Trump should confront Putin over Mueller probe indictments Midterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street McConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters MORE of Massachusetts have given credence to Democratic Socialist policies on the federal level in their respective calls to abolish ICE in the past two weeks. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight Seeking asylum does not make illegal entry into America legal MORE of California has also provided cover by saying Congress should “reexamine ICE” and suggesting the agency does not have a future after “starting from scratch” on immigration enforcement.

Democrats need to win back party moderates and independent voters, many of whom voted for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE in 2016 after having supported President Obama. With as many as 14 toss-up congressional districts across the Midwest, supporting Democratic Socialist policies could take a potentially disastrous toll on the party this November.

There are two strong pieces of evidence that support this. First, the latest Quinnipiac Poll shows that President Trump can sustain his support on immigration, with 50 percent of respondents believing that his policies were motivated by “a sincere interest in controlling our borders.” Furthermore, a full 60 percent of voters believe the Democrats in Congress are “exploiting the nation’s immigration issue for political gain,” like calls to abolish ICE, rather than working to resolve the issue.

Second, in addition to immigration, President Trump has garnered increasing approval ratings on the economy. Recent figures from a CNBC economic survey show that a 51 majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy. Uniquely, despite his complicated role in the immigration crisis, a 54 percent majority of Hispanic voters responding to the Quinnipiac poll approve of the way President Trump is performing on the economy as well.

In an earlier Quinnipiac Poll, Republicans win immigration issue voters 57 percent to 40 percent, and also win voters who prioritize the economy 52 percent to 41 percent. Put simply, with two of the top four issues in the country favoring Republicans, their message of economic growth and securing the border continues to resonate much more, leaving Democrats only competitive on health care and gun violence.

Fortunately, despite Democrats embracing radical left-wing candidates, there have also been a substantial number of moderate outsiders, particularly military veterans, who offer centrist solutions to our problems. These candidates, most prominently Rep. Conor Lamb in southwestern Pennsylvania and Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, have also proven that they can win in more conservative areas with the right platform.

There are dozens more Democrats running under unifying platforms who can move our country forward on our most pressing issues in a bipartisan way. These candidates appeal to the broad swathes of Americans who want conciliation, not confrontation with the president or other political opponents. They will indeed overperform other Democrats and form the backbone of any effort to retake the House, unless they are further drowned out and marginalized by the far left.

Unless the Democrats can present a unifying force of conciliation and reason, it will be much more difficult to win the House, and there will be no chance of winning back the Senate. Moreover, the ascendancy of the far left increases the chances that a candidate with narrow appeal, like Sanders or Warren, is nominated in 2020, which would potentially weaken the party and make victory nearly impossible in key states which will be of integral importance for the rapprochement process. Democrats have a path toward taking back the House in November. However, that path does not and cannot center on a Democratic Socialist platform.

Douglas E. Schoen is a longtime political consultant who served as a pollster for President Clinton. Andrew J. Stein is a former president of the New York City Council and a former president of Manhattan Borough.