Harry Reid … secret Republican? No, just sane Democrat, or at least what passes for that these days. Vice News got the former Senate Majority Leader on the phone and heard some blunt assessments of the progressive agenda on display in the 2020 presidential nomination fight. If Democrats want to lose in 2020, Reid suggests, they’re well on their way.
First up, Reid tells Vice that Medicare for All is obviously problematic, to use their term:
In a half-hour phone conversation with VICE News, Reid was blunt when asked if he thought supporting Medicare for All would be problematic in the 2020 general election.
“Of course it would be,” he said. “How are you going to get it passed?”
“I think that we should focus on improving Obamacare. We can do that — without bringing something that would be much harder to sell,” he said when asked his thoughts on the debate over whether Democrats should pursue Medicare for All or a more modest Obamacare expansion. “Improving Obamacare: People understand that. They would appreciate that. It locks in many important things.”
Reid could be singing to the choir by now. The presidential field — except for Bernie Sanders — has begun backing away from Medicare for All. It turned out that constituents in places like Iowa and New Hampshire were a lot more sophisticated than the candidates imagined and began asking questions about costs and providers that Democrats couldn’t answer. They also discovered that people like their employer-based health insurance, for the most part, and certainly don’t want the government turning their lives upside down to fix something that ain’t broke.
Reid also took on the other major issue on which Democrats are running — immigration reform. When asked if open borders will be a problem, Reid said decriminalization is nonsense:
“There are so many more important things to do. Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list. It should be way, way down at the bottom of the list,” Reid said, responding with a curt “of course it is” when asked if supporting that position would be politically problematic in the general election.
“People want a fair immigration system. They don’t want an open-door invitation for everybody to come at once,” argued Reid.
In case you think Reid’s gone soft — or Republican — Vice notes that Reid’s sounding very sympathetic to Elizabeth Warren. He’s not going to make an endorsement, but Reid recruited Warren and is very keen on watching her perform in the primaries. “Everyone has to be impressed with what she’s doing,” Reid says, presumably post-DNA test.
That aside, there seems to be a centrist resurgence of late in the Democratic primary, just as the candidates join Congress in getting outside of the Beltway for a bit. That may not be a coincidence. The more they get away from the noisy progressive activists inside DC, the better they may grasp the issues that are really driving the vote in the next election. Reid’s sudden reminder of the need to check one’s reality seems timed to emphasize and amplify that effect, which might help to marginalize the extremists pushing Democratic Socialism as the animating principle for Democrats in 2020.
For now, anyway. Don’t bet on the centrist impulse lasting too long.