The coming wave of "progressive despair"

Before you ask, I wasn’t the one who came up with this theory of an impending wave of despair among progressives and liberals. You can blame Alex Thompson at Politico for this one. He notes today that the hard left progressive wing of the Democratic Party was flying high a couple of months back, based largely on the strong showing Bernie Sanders delivered in the first couple of primaries this year. Then, after South Carolina, it all came crashing down. On top of that, they’ve lost some key primary fights where progressives hoped to oust some of the more moderate members of their party and things aren’t looking much better for them in several upcoming races.

Since then, not only did the “establishment” stop Sanders — it stamped out the candidacies of a string of left-wing insurgents, leaving the progressive movement reeling and in a state of despair.

Three highly-touted liberal House candidates — Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio — lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress. They are now playing defense as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the four members of the “squad,” faces a stiff primary challenge in Michigan. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who’s managed a late-career makeover into a left-wing darling, with endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive groups, is consistently outpolled by primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Thompson goes on to note that it’s not just a case of “squad approved” challengers losing their races. The progressives are failing to get their policies pushed through in Congress where they had hoped to restructure American society as part of the various pandemic relief packages recently passed or currently under consideration. I’m not sure how true that is, however. It seems to me that Nancy Pelosi has done her best to load up each relief package with a mountain of liberal wishlist items. It’s only the fact that those efforts have been dead on arrival with the GOP majority in the Senate that’s kept them from going through.

The far left has also racked up at least one victory at the ballot box this year, though it may come back to bite them. When Marie Newman knocked out pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski in the Illinois primary, pro-abortion liberals were taking a victory lap. But the celebrations may be shortlived and premature. Lipinski was able to win in that district precisely because it’s an overwhelmingly moderate region where many voters take a dim view of liberal abortion-on-demand policies. There’s certainly no guarantee that Newman will win that seat in November.

Some of the Democratic strategists that Thompson interviewed blamed the failure of the party’s leftward lurch on their inability to get older Black voters on board with the agenda. Sanders failed to make significant inroads with that demographic and other excessively progressive candidates have similarly failed to catch on in a lot of majority-minority urban districts.

When you contrast their failure to launch among older Black voters with the progressive bent of the Democrats’ younger, primarily white supporters, the party does appear to be poised between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Democratic strategists know that they can’t win nationally without a big surge in minority voters similar to the wave that Obama drove. But if too many of the younger Sanders supporters lose their enthusiasm for liberal reforms and wind up staying home in November, that’s almost as bad.

What we’re really looking at here is the civil war going on inside the party that most of the MSM try to avoid talking about. Bernie’s army, Black voters and predominantly white suburban Democrats all have their own agendas. And the truth is that, aside from a desire to see the Bad Orange Man removed from office, they don’t always share a lot of policy goals in common. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them. Well… almost.

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