As the final months approach before the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic field is narrowing. Candidates such as Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke have dropped out of the race, while Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang have seen little to no movement in their low polling numbers. Currently, the field has focused on five candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Mike Bloomberg. As the selection of a candidate draws nearer, there is a growing concern across America: have the democrats moved too far left?
The Pew Research Center released their report, “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider,” that provides visuals showing that drastic political shifts have not come from Republicans, but from Democrats. Although, Republicans have moved further to the right from 1994 to 2017, Democrats have moved significantly further than their counterparts. This shift in political ideology hovers over the current Democratic field, specifically within the aforementioned top runners. Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist and Elizabeth Warren resembles all the ideological beliefs of a socialist, mirroring many of Sanders’ views. Warren and Sanders both advocate for socialized health care, wealth taxes, open borders, and a deep hatred of America’s capitalist system.
The Democratic party has undeniably moved to the left, but whether they have moved too far has not been answered. The answer to this question lies in three components: electability, legislative feasibility, and ideology.
In terms of electability, the leftward shift of the Democratic party may prove detrimental. A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that the leftward shift is indeed harmful to the electability of Democratic candidates. About 47 percent of respondents believe that the Democrats have moved too far left, including almost half (47 percent) of independents. This may prove worrisome for the candidates trying to reach moderates, independents, and those across the aisle. The polling exemplifies the far left’s electability problems, especially when contrasted to Biden’s numbers.. The Biden’s polling success is due to his position as the moderate of a radically liberal field. Biden currently holds a double digit lead on the rest of the field, while Warren and Sanders have experienced fluctuations in their polling numbers in recent months, polling at 14 and 21 percent respectively. The polling numbers for Warren and Sanders are high, but they have not been able to narrow Biden’s double digit lead in months. In fact, if you add the polling numbers for Warren and Sanders, they surpass Biden by 3 percent, which is within the margin of error. The Biden’s success compared to Warren and Sanders shows that the far left ideology is an electoral challenge for Democrats..
If we ignore the electability problems of far left candidates, there are still significant problems in terms of passing far left legislation. Three of the main policy initiatives on the Democratic platform are universal healthcare, stricter gun control, and narrowing income inequality through higher taxes such as a wealth tax. All of these seem like reasonable policy proposals, despite their far left foundations, but all three would be very difficult to pass. Opponents–primarily Republicans— of gun control and wealth taxes argue about their constitutionality. That is, these policy initiatives may violate aspects of the constitution. Many of these judgements are made by federal judges, sometimes going as high as the supreme court. President Trump has appointed 187 federal judges and two Supreme Court nominations. These nominations gave conservatives a majority on the Supreme Court and a significant presence in federal courts. Both of these would make it extremely difficult to deliver on campaign policies that are rooted in a far left ideology. Additionally, the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and it looks like they will be threatening to take a majority in the House come 2020. The conservative majority in the judiciary could limit far left policies, but a conservative majority in both branches of Congress would make far left policies nearly impossible to pass. Policy proposals like Medicare-for-all cannot even reach the floor for a vote in a Democratic house, much less pass through a conservative Senate and Judiciary. Thus, the shift to the left for Democrats may limit their ability to pass meaningful legislation, meaning they would fail to deliver on campaign promises.
Finally, the leftward shift is concerning from an ideological perspective. Our political system works best in moderation, which is why it was designed to have multiple layers of checks and balances. This system prevents our government from going too far to the left or too far to the right, like failed governments such as Venezuela, Soviet Russia, and Nazi Germany. Any shift too far left or right should warrant some concern, which is why the leftward shift of the Democrats should be concerning, not praise worthy. Ultimately, this leftward shift by the Democrats will be detrimental to their electability and their ability of passing meaningful legislation, due to the ideological concerns of Americans and conservatives.