AuthorConniff, Ruth

A not-so-subtle theme of the Democratic primary debates, and much of the conversation about the 2020 presidential election, is the choice between pragmatic centrism and inspiring progressivism.

Can the Dems afford a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren, who might upset middle-of-the-road, middle-American sensibilities with bold plans for universal health care, free college, and confiscatory taxes on corporations?

What about all those white, working-class voters who helped elect Donald Trump across the Upper Midwest? Would they reject a progressive candidate?

On the other hand, Joe Biden--the safe, establishment candidate--is looking increasingly out of it. Each debate has given Biden new chances to show how little he has evolved over his very long political career, and has teed up some new gaffes. He's still ahead in the polls, but Warren, Sanders, and the rest of the field have seriously damaged Biden's aura of electability.

Could this marathon election season end with the re-election of Trump, the worst President in American history?

As the Dems keep reminding each other on the debate stage, the nation is being torn apart from within. The real enemy is neither progressives nor centrists, but the dangerously unhinged megalomaniac in the White House.

So what should the Democratic Party do?

The Washington Post recently reported that the next presidential election will likely be decided by just four states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Wisconsin. All four went for Donald Trump in 2016 by narrow margins.

"One obvious wild card is the identity of the Democratic nominee and how that shapes the general election debate," the Post s Dan Balz wrote. "Will that nominee be running on a platform that moderate voters see as too far left? Will that nominee be able to energize the party's woke base and still appeal to white working-class voters?"

But Ben Wilder, the new leader of the state Democratic Party of Wisconsin, advises the pundits and national party to set aside the snark about a "woke base" versus working-class voters. Wikler--who returned to his home state from Washington, D.C., where he ran the campaign to defend the Affordable Care Act for MoveOn.org--is casting a wider net.

"The thing I'm frustrated by every day is the idea that you can't fight for both white working-class voters and voters of color," he says. "Guess what? There are people of all races in the working class. And all of them want schools and jobs and safe communities...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT