DEMOCRATS RISK A RUDE AWAKENING
In terms of economics, many observers, including some centrist Democrats, believe the party turned off conservative voters by moving too far to the left. True to form, Republicans fanned the fears of high taxes, job-killing environmental policies, and socialized medicine. In both major U.S. political parties, the quintessential American myth of the lone entrepreneur who does best when government does the least is still alive and well. On the other side of the argument, progressives argue that Biden campaigned on proposals that were hardly radical by the standards of other developed countries. He was, after all, determined to frame the election as a referendum on Trump, not as a test of support for an alternative agenda. Perhaps Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, with their greater emphasis on jobs, economic security, and redistribution, were more in tune with the aspirations of most Americans. Given that the election was held in the midst of an increasingly deadly pandemic, it is also possible that voting patterns were driven by a mix of health and economic considerations, only loosely related to these debates. Some Democratic Party insiders believe that voters may have been concerned about the economic costs of the lockdowns and more aggressive COVID-19 policies advocated by Democrats. If so, the above arguments are largely moot. In sum, it is clear that the election does not resolve the perennial debate about how the Democratic Party and other center-left parties should position themselves on cultural and economic issues to maximize their electoral
The debate is already on about how Democrats could have done better.
American politics revolves around two axes: culture and economics. On both sets of issues, we can find those who fault Democrats for going too far and those who fault them for not going far enough. opposition to abortion, and gun rights. On the other, we have LGBT rights, social justice, and opposition to “systemic racism.” Unfortunately, their narrow victory does not yield easy lessons. American politics revolves around two axes: culture and economics. On both sets of issues, we can find those who fault Democrats for going too far and those who fault them for not going far enough. The culture wars pit the country’s socially conservative, predominantly white regions against metropolitan areas where so-called “woke” attitudes have risen to predominance. On one side we have family values, Many who voted for Trump viewed Democrats’ support for this year’s street protests against police brutality as condoning violence and tarring the nation as a whole with the broad brush of racism. While Biden was careful to speak against violence, the Democrats became susceptible to charges of moral grandstanding and denigrating the values of the heartland. For others, continued support for Trump merely confirms how entrenched racism and bigotry are, and the Democratic Party’s urgent need to fight them.
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