How the hard left only helps the Republicans and Donald Trump

How the hard left only helps the Republicans and Donald Trump
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The hard left is helping Republican candidates and Donald Trump in numerous ways. First and most obviously, by running candidates such as those in the Green Party, the hard left siphons off votes that otherwise would go to Democrats. Third parties may well have cost the Democrats the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections, because the Green Party siphoned off enough votes to make the difference in crucial states.

Green Party supporters argue that their voters would not have come out to vote if they had to choose between Democrats and Republicans, so they claim that they have not siphoned off any votes from Democrats. While this may be true of some extremists who see no difference between Democrats and Republicans, it certainly is not true of many core voters attracted to the environmental policies of the Green Party, but who would most certainly vote and, if they did, would vote for Democrats.

Then there are the off the charts extremists like Susan Sarandon who actually prefer to see Republicans such as Donald Trump elected over Democrats such as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPapadopoulos's wife wants him to scrap plea deal with Mueller: report FBI chief: I'm trying to bring 'normalcy' in 'turbulent times' Senate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties MORE. Her absurd argument is that a Trump presidency will bring revolution more quickly than would a Clinton presidency. Fortunately for America, these extreme revolutionaries represent a tiny fraction of the electorate across the country.

Another way the hard left helps Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE is through their exaggerations and gutter tactics. The claim by Rosie O’Donnell that Trump stole the 2016 election only emboldens his base with the denial of his victory. Her rhetoric, and that of others like her, turns off centrist voters and shifts some of them to the Republican camp. So do the constant personal attacks by people like “Morning Joe” Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski who recently devoted significant air time to talking about the size of Trump’s fingers. The reality that Trump himself engages in similar attacks does not diminish the negative impact of gutter tactics.

The attacks on Trump administration officials in restaurants and other public places also turns off centrist voters who cast ballots for Democrats in the past but who are deeply offended by tactics they associate with supporters of the hard left. If Republicans manage to hold on to one or both chambers of Congress in the midterms, it will be at least in part because of wounds inflicted on the Democratic Party by extremists on the hard left. The highly publicized candidacies of Democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Cynthia Nixon surely will drive many centrist voters out of the party. The election of Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonEllison ex-girlfriend details abuse allegations Dem requests DOJ probe on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee has alienated moderates who remember his close association with Louis Farrakhan.

Is there anything the Democrats can do before the midterms to bolster their chances of winning one or both houses? I think there is. The Democratic Party should appoint centrist liberal leaders to positions of authority within the party and should emphasize the centrist liberal policies that have been the key to their success since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We are a country of centrists and one of the few in the Western world that has never had successful communist or fascist parties.

America thrives at the center. Reasonable voters can disagree about whether centrist liberalism or centrist conservatism is best for the country. That is what most previous elections have been about. Yet, now the extremes in both parties are advocating hard left and hard right positions that do not serve the interests of average Americans.

The Democrats need more centrist liberal candidates like Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBill and Hillary Clinton pay tribute to Aretha Franklin Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin dies at 76 MORE and fewer socialist candidates like Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersPollster: Despite flashy headline, Dems haven't become more supportive of socialism Pollster: Dem party 'rift' won't carry on to midterms Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left MORE. Young people may be energized by extremism, but in the end they simply do not vote, at least not in the numbers that are expected of them. The Democrats cannot count on “flash in the pan” extremists to energize young voters. They need centrist candidates who appeal to all segments of the party.

There are such candidates out there. Some may not be widely known, at least not yet. Remember that Bill Clinton was an unknown governor of Arkansas, just months before he won the Democratic nomination for president. The Democrats should not abandon the center, despite their loss with a moderate candidate in 2016. Democrats can win by attracting centrists of all ages, ideologies and backgrounds. Moving to the hard left is a guarantee of failure, both in the short term and the long term.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. He is the author of “Trumped Up: How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy” and “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” He is on Twitter @AlanDersh and Facebook @AlanMDershowitz.