Pitts takes wrong approach on centrist politics theory
Leonard Pitts on Oct. 18 made the case for the Democrats moving sharply left, partly because the Republican base has turned right, and secondly because “centrist politics” are gone. I couldn’t disagree more.
The last time the Democrats turned sharply left was in 1972, with the candidacy of George McGovern. The country had moved left with the civil rights era of the 1960s, and the Democrats believed the voters wanted to move further left. McGovern won one state and the District of Columbia, ushering in a 20-year period of Republican domination of the White House. The lone exception, 1976 to 1980, one term.
Pitts is misreading the electorate, with all the noise from the extreme right and left. Most people are centrist and want gradual change. Trump won, with all his warts, because of the Electoral College, and the country, had moved sharply left with the election to two terms of an African-American president. While Obama is a moderate liberal, he symbolized a sharp move to the left. With federal deficits of over $20 trillion, large new programs, like Medicare for all, will be tough sells to the electorate.
Given these realities, a moderate Democratic candidate who targets issues such as fixing Social Security, support for child care and small businesses, our main driver of employment, will win in 2020. The political center will rise again, but an extreme left wing candidate will leave us with Trump, a vision too horrible to contemplate.