No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way
Democrats can kiss swing voters goodbye with progressive ballot
On Tuesday, the upstairs-downstairs politics of the Democrats convulsed. New York Democrats elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and sent Joe Crowley, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House, to his early retirement. The demographic fault lines of the Democratic Party are once again on display. This time, their donor class worries as intersectionality, in all of its aggrieved glory, occupies the national stage.
Let us be clear that Ocasio-Cortez is an unvarnished leftist. Think of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, just younger and ungrizzled. Socialism is her badge of honor. When she claims that Hamas is simply a Palestinian analog to the Ferguson protests, take her conviction as a given. You can also place a good bet that come 2020, Ocasio-Cortez will be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention.
The pupil is about to become the teacher, and that should could as no surprise. While Democratic leadership in Congress is predominately old and white, their core voters are anything but. In 2016, minorities made up nearly 45 percent of votes for Hillary Clinton.
Yet, the Democrats was slow to react to this reality. Now they have little choice as they stand on the brink of becoming a majority-minority party. Redistributive policies and identity politics loom as fast approaching storm clouds on a nearby horizon. Clintonian neoliberalism and triangulation just got belted with a left hook to the jaw, and the party's poohbahs are looking dazed and confused.
Ocasio-Cortez calls for single-payer healthcare, abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and free college for all. Forget about the underlying arithmetic and how to pay for all of it, which either requires sky-high taxation or flat-out sorcery. Rather, this is a cultural manifesto, a cry for open borders, and a demand for one ginormous nausea-inducing free lunch. Against this backdrop, does anyone think Michael Bloomberg has a realistic shot at winning the Democratic nomination two years from now? There is nothing like an aging financialist to get people really excited and trudging out in the dead of winter to hang out for two hours at the Iowa caucuses.
This cycle, it is Donald Trump against the world, and that may well cost the Republican Party control of both houses of Congress come November. Incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown holds a commanding lead in the Senate race in Ohio, incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin is running ahead in in the Senate race in West Virginia, and Arizona may flip.
When Trump exits the stage, where will the Democrats be? Trump will have scared some wealthy voters away from the Republicans. But will those same voters make the Democratic Party their permanent home? That is not so clear. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crisis, wealthy Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but they did not stay for long. In the 2010 and 2014 midterms, they gravitated back to the Republican Party in the face of ObamaCare.
Sure, it may take longer because of the pain about to be inflicted by the effective termination of the state and local tax deduction. Michael Grimm, a Trump loyalist and convicted felon felt the wrath from Staten Island Republicans over his support for the Republican tax bill. Incumbent Republican Congressman Dan Donovan demolished Grimm in Tuesday's primary more by 30 points. In suburban Virginia, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is seeing the anger from voters who appear unforgiving for her vote in favor of the tax bill and trails by double-digits in the latest polls. Her seat is now rated as "leaning Democratic."
Still, wealthy swing voters will not buy what Ocasio-Cortez is selling, just like Democratic moms in Scarsdale generally roll their eyes at Cynthia Nixon, if the polls are to be believed. Nixon trails Andrew Cuomo by more than 30 points in New York, and the primary is less than three months away. Yes, some saw their younger selves in Miranda Hobbs, then they grew up. Going back in time, it was fun to be hip, watch your folks hate on Richard Nixon, hang out at the Saloon on Broadway, or all of the above.
But to burn Wall Street down to the ground is a whole other story. Who does not secretly want to be related to a hedge fund god or a bond trader? Let us face it, the "Big Short" was mesmerizing. Trump is working hard to trash the First Amendment, shred the rule of law, and gut reproductive freedoms. But when the smoke clears, Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, and Democratic "progressives" may well leave greater and more lasting cultural and economic resentments.
Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.