By MRUNMAYI JOSHI, junior
IRONICALLY ENOUGH, if there’s something everyone agrees on these days, it’s that no one agrees on anything. America is more divided than it has been in decades, with the gap between liberals and conservatives having become a gaping abyss. The current president is generally seen as the catalyst for this discord, with many Republicans lauding his administration’s tactics and most Democrats seeing him as the trampler of the republic. However, America’s problems involve more than just Trump; as evidenced by the Democratic 2020 primary field, the liberal party is undergoing a seismic shift. Democrats have two choices: veer leftwards and embrace socialism or adopt a moderate agenda. However, support of the former will drive voters away and continue the cycle of partisan politics that has been destroying American democracy for nearly four years.
At the moment, socialism looks popular: Bernie Sanders, noted for his espousal of Medicare-for-all, is a frontrunner in terms of electability. After the Nevada caucuses, in a Morning Consult poll, 34% of Democratic voters said Sanders was the best choice to defeat Trump, as opposed to 17% for Biden. Yet this sudden pivot to the left is not a wise decision, despite the publicity it has received; it promises to be mostly smoke and mirrors. Gradual, permanent change is the best way to improve American lives, not a drastic reversal that will change again in four years’ time. A candidate that kowtows to the views of less than half of the population is no longer the leader of the people, threatening to make the same mistake that was made in 2016. In short, a radical nominee, no matter how well intentioned, would stoop to the level of Donald Trump. To fix America’s many issues, a president must listen to everyone; only a moderate candidate will be able to knit Americans together again.
Ironically, political minorities have the loudest voices. On social media platforms, it seems like people are either rabidly rightist or fanatically leftist, forming the illusion that radical policies are supported by at least half the country. But that’s simply not true. In a Hill-HarrisX survey from February, only about 13% of voters said they would want the government to abolish private insurance, a key part of Sanders’s campaign. In contrast, 15% of voters said they would support no government healthcare support. Thus, one can draw the conclusion that this extreme move, like countless others on either side of the aisle, is not as popular as it seems.
The same goes for the simple topic of Democratic versus Republican—41% of voters don’t identify with either party, according to a Gallup poll. It’s not sensible to come up with legal plans based on such a small demographic. Extreme liberals run the risk of alienating potential voters, as they only represent a small chunk of Democrats, let alone Americans. The issue is that they are still illusioned with their support; satisfying their Twitter followings is not the same as serving the American people. An exit poll from The Washington Post after the New Hampshire primary notes that only 11% of voting Democrats use the platform, underscoring the insignificance of such social media platforms when it comes down to election time.
Given the lack of support for some of these more radical policies, it is extremely unlikely that Congress will ever pass them. Sanders’ platform includes the Green New Deal, free college, and the aforementioned Medicare-for-all. The funding for such laws would come from raising taxes on the corporations and rich, a move that would stifle the economy and require national control of industries that make the United States billions of dollars. Any one of these measures separately would meet the ire of Republicans in Congress, but when combined, they would fail. The only way to move the nation forward is to compromise, not alienate the other party. Radical Democrats only serve to charm voters temporarily; they have no intention of delivering on their promises. It will be challenging enough for Democrats to adopt healthcare measures more liberal than those of the Obama administration, let alone those of the hyper-progressive candidates. Democrats must nominate a moderate who has a real shot at getting things done.