Hoodwinked by the ‘moderate’ Democrat
In her op-ed “A dilemma for the Democrats” (Opinion, Aug. 19), which discusses the importance of “moderate” Democrats — purportedly the sole electable variety — prevailing in intraparty politics, Diane Hessan gets a lot wrong.
In the wake of the right-wing tidal wave kicked off by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and his allies pulled off, and consolidated, a pro-corporate takeover of the Democratic Party. Liberals and their agenda were sent packing. Clintonite “New Democrats,” nearly as obsessed as the GOP with upward redistribution of capital, slashing the safety net, and imperial warmongering, since have ruled the roost. These Democrats described their sharp rightward pivot as “moderate,” “centrist,” and “pragmatic.”
Since then, the political landscape has been dominated by what is essentially a right-wing big-business party and a farther right-wing big-business party. The parties’ substantially overlapping policies have given us monopoly concentrations of wealth and power surpassing the Gilded Age. This has left the middle class economically hollowed out and the interests of the entire popular majority politically unrepresented. One probable effect of these causes was that in 2016 the electorate erupted in unprecedented, though confused, rage at both parties.
This status quo is what many people — and of course the New Democratic establishment — defend as “moderate.” As cited in Hessan’s op-ed, political observers across the spectrum paint a relatively tame and vanilla liberal opposition to this brave new dystopian order with such words as “crazy,” “radical,” “hateful,” “extreme,” and “socialist.” It might just be that the most devastating and unprincipled tactic of so-called moderate Democrats and, indeed, the great bulk of the political class is the Orwellian perversion of language.
‘Hateful’? ‘Radical’? That’s Democrats they’re describing?
I always get frustrated reading Diane Hessan’s voter surveys. The voters in her sample don’t like the “hateful” and the “radical,” so they’d rather vote for Donald Trump, the most hateful, radical candidate out there, than they would for any of the Democrats?
One asks, “Do we have to call everything racist?” No, but we do have to call racists racist. “Do we have to blame everything on rich people?” No, just the economic imbalance caused by Trump’s tax policies. “Do we have to spend all of our time investigating?” No, but we have to investigate things that need investigating. It wouldn’t take so much time if the Trump administration cooperated more.
Why is the far left too “radical,” but the far right isn’t?
Buttigieg is the candidate to bridge our divide
Pete Buttigieg is that fresh face of whom Diane Hessan speaks. He actively reaches out to those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 with a message of hope and unity. He is the one candidate I have seen who has those “common-sense, less hateful messages that both Democrats and Republicans could support.” I am supporting Buttigieg because I think that this is the message that will win the presidency and be a salve for the divisiveness that currently exists in our country.
We can’t read too much into views of this panel of voters
Diane Hessan’s op-eds are always interesting, as she reports on the opinions of her panel of 500 voters, identified and followed over several years. But she (and we) should be careful not to interpret her voters’ opinions as being necessarily reflective of voters in general, in the way that a succession of random polls would.
The reason we can have trust in a good poll is that statistical analysis informs us how likely it is that the opinions of the sample differ from those of the population as a whole. But that analysis depends on the poll using a truly random sample. Using basically the same group for the sample every time is not good strategy for statistically valid polling.
We should still be interested in the opinions of her voters, but we must be careful not to read too much into her data.