Opinion: Stop blaming progressive Democrats. Republicans are the extreme ones.
If you have been paying attention to the 2020 Democratic presidential primary coverage on cable news, it is basically a given that you have heard Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) , or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.), described as “far-left” and “divisive” by pundits. I believe this is wrong; both Sanders and Warren are running campaigns that focus on returning power back to regular, working-class Americans, in terms of our economy, democracy and government. But I also believe it is extremely hypocritical and irresponsible to cover Democrats in this connotation, while not discussing the ideological positions of current-day Republicans in elected office.
Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren both support bold, progressive policies, such as “Medicare for All,” which would guarantee every American healthcare and eliminate private health insurance, and it is often considered a “fringe” idea, by Republicans and even a good amount of Democrats.
On the other side, we have Republicans trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and weakening protections that were put in place by the 2010 law, resulting in millions of Americans losing health insurance. Now, please ask yourself, which is more radical: actively sabotaging a law that gave millions of Americans access to health insurance and wanting to keep profits in our health or wanting to ensure that every American can go to the doctor and seek treatment regardless of their income?
Going off of this, more moderate Democratic candidates for president and political pundits argue that we need a Democratic nominee who is more “toward the center,” so that we do not alienate Republican voters. But have Republicans ever considered which of their candidates may be most palatable to Democrats? The answer is no.
In 2016, Republicans nominated Donald Trump. As a candidate, Trump suggested we should punish women who choose to terminate their pregnancy, ban immigrants from entering the country based on their religion, and completely ignore climate change because it is a “hoax.” These are not mainstream positions, in fact, these are probably the most extreme views any president has run on in recent times.
On Jan. 31, after a long fight, Senate Republicans voted to block witnesses from testifying in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Despite nearly every national poll indicating that more than 7-in-10 Americans wanted to hear from witnesses, Senate Republicans ignored the wants of the American public and voted to end their sham trial. This behavior we see from Republicans in office is not normal. Republicans have moved further to the right over the past few decades, while Democrats are hesitant to fight for bold policies like universal healthcare due to the fear of being labeled as “extreme.” Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), continue to destroy norms and refuse to vote on legislation passed by the House, while paying no attention to the opposing side’s opinions or feelings.
I am not saying Democrats should simply support more bold policies to “get back at Republicans.” We should be fighting for bold policies and be unapologetic, because in my view, there is no equivalency between fighting for universal healthcare coverage and a habitable planet and fighting for increasingly authoritarian/deeply unpopular policies while simultaneously destroying congressional norms.
Democrats are definitely not saints, but to compare anything Democrats propose to anything Republicans do is simply dishonest and naive at best. If we want to make Congress function again, we must start by acknowledging that Democrats and Republicans are not equally responsible for its demise.
Dylan J. Rosenthal is a junior political science and public policy double major at the university. He is also the Director of Communications and Programming for the College Democrats at the University of Delaware. His opinions are his own and do not reflect the majority views of The Review’s editorial staff. Dylan Rosenthal may be reached at email@example.com. The university’s College Democrats may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.