If Democrats want to reelect President Donald Trump and lose the House and Senate in the process, they should nominate a candidate for president who insists on abolishing private health insurance, supports open borders and promises to give away all sorts of “free” things costing trillions of dollars.
However popular such policies may be among the left wing of the Democrats, and whatever academic or social arguments can be made for them on paper, when the full price tags, uncertainties and underlying philosophy are made known they will drive many voters away.
Moderate House and Senate members in swing districts will be collateral damage because: A) Regardless of their own positions they will be tagged with the “socialist” label thrown at the presidential nominee; and B) Middle of the road voters will want a check on what they see as extreme policies and will vote for Republicans for Congress as an antidote just in case the Democrat’s presidential candidate prevails.
In the worst possible outcome for the Democrats (and the nation), imagine Trump also wins and they lose the Congress, sustained in large part through attacks on the “socialist” Democratic nominee. Then there really are no checks and balances of any kind in any branch of government.
Not a pretty picture.
Moderate Democratic incumbents and candidates for the House and Senate can stop this disaster now. They can do this by joining together to publicly remind the American people, and their own party’s presidential candidates that it is Congress, not the White House, that makes the laws.
No matter how much a candidate for president touts his or her personal policy or plan, it is ultimately the House and Senate that make the laws and will decide whether to abolish private insurance, grow the deficit or open borders. Moderates should declare loudly, proudly and in unison that they will support the Democratic presidential nominee over Trump, and they will work for practical, realistic solutions, but, without naming names, they will not all support all the policies of every candidate who might become the nominee.
With moderate Democrats serving as a check on their own party candidate, swing and Republican voters then don’t need to vote for Trump or support obedient Trump Republicans in the House or Senate.
Meanwhile, by reassuring voters that even if a certain Democrat becomes president that does not mean all her or his policies will become law, moderates can make it more palatable for anti-Trump Republican and swing voters to support even a left-leaning Democratic candidate for president.
Some on the left, who seldom interact with swing voters or understand how they think, will say that if moderates took this step they would be disloyal to the party or to their presidential nominee.
But how can it really be disloyal if a Democratic member of Congress or candidate is actually increasing both the chances of electing their presidential nominee and holding on to their own House or Senate seats?
A bigger concern, and what would be far more likely to “split the party” for the Democrats, would not be moderates taking an independent stand. Rather, it would be the left wing of the Democrats taking an absolutist, sanctimonious stand and declaring that their own party moderates should be expelled or defeated by repeating the preposterous but popular claim that “there is no difference between Trump Republicans and moderate Democrats.” In that case, it would be the ideological “purists” of the far left that lead to the Trump victory and the loss of the Congress. Trump (and Russia) could not be more delighted by that outcome.
We have seen the movie before, and it did not turn out well. It was Nader-backers who caused Al Gore’s loss in 2000. Neglect of and, in some cases, internal opposition to moderate Democrats in Congress helped cost the Democrats the House in 2010. And in 2016, there were enough Green Party votes in key swing states to give Trump the election.
That price is too high to pay again.
If Democrats of all leanings and moderate Republicans and independents are smart and can learn lessons from the past, and if they are willing to unite around people and policies that they can agree on without either group getting everything they want, they can rewrite the way the prior movies ended. This time, they can win.