In the last two years, the Democrats have taken a giant leap leftward. With insane proposals to abolish ICE (the same agency that caught 11 child molesters last year), ban private health insurance, legalize all unauthorized border crossings, and spend $90 trillion dollars to stop climate change, the modern left resembles a circus more than a serious political party.
Under Obama, the charge of socialist was rightly seen by liberals as an insult. Did they still have big government policies? Of course. But the left still understood that, overall, capitalism is the best way to end poverty.
But things have changed. Today, the majority of liberals personally believe in socialism. In just 20 years, the Democratic Party went from condemning socialism to shamelessly calling for the nationalization of the entire healthcare industry.
This rapid change isn’t without consequences. The Democratic Party is now locked in an ideological civil war that threatens to rip the party in two.
At the front line of this war is a figure truly ghost-like in appearance: Nancy Pelosi. Her supporters often call her a hostage-negotiator for the way she reopened the government without funding border security.
In their view, Trump held the paychecks of federal workers hostage. Pelosi being a master negotiator, miraculously rescued them without giving Trump the wall. She even went as far as canceling his State of the Union address to project strength.
But in reality, it’s Pelosi herself who is the hostage. Her party’s socialist wing is pushing her skills to the limit, while constantly sharpening their knives.
Immigration is a great example. Pelosi is not a progressive on immigration. Not even close. When asked about illegal immigrants in 2008 she said, “We certainly don’t want anymore coming in”.
Just six years ago, she supported a bill stating that “not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish . . . the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy,’ to identify where 700 miles of fencing (including double-layer fencing) . . . should be deployed along the Southern border.”
That’s a lot of border security.
Even now, she privately supports a more secure border — calling for a ‘Normandy fence’ on the border a few months ago.
Ultimately, behind the many word games between her and the president about what counts as a wall, one thing is clear: she is still willing to have some form of border security.
In today’s stormy political climate, that makes her a moderate.
Compare her to the more socialist elements of her party. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez literally screamed at a fence to protest ICE and believes renewable energy will end racism. Elizabeth Warren has said that business owners don’t create jobs. Even Kamala Harris — who many thought would be relatively moderate — has openly admitted that Medicare-For-All will ban private insurance, forcing millions of unwilling Americans into government rationed insurance.
These plans, obviously, cost a great deal of money. So when Speaker Pelosi attempted to reintroduce PAYGO — a rule that would stabilize the budget by forcing any new program to get funding either through tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere — the progressive wing of her party revolted.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacked the rules package almost as soon as it was announced.
“PAYGO isn’t only bad economics,” she tweeted, “it’s also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare…We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start.”
The modern democratic party has clearly swung to the left. So far left that a proposal requiring the government to actually pay for programs is seen as ‘bad economics’.
For now, Pelosi has been able to reign in the wilder members of her party regarding fiscal policy. But it is undeniable that she has completely modified her stance on immigration in order to protect her job. After all, Ocasio-Cortez ousted the head of the House Democratic Caucus, Joe Crowley, who spent 18 times more money than she did.
Power and money aren’t enough to ensure a Democratic representative’s job. Pivoting to the left has proven to be the only way to stave off primary challengers.
The 2020 election will be historic. However, it’s not the general election that’s important.
It’s the Democratic primary.
With over twenty candidates on stage, the first round of debates confirmed what most analysts – or really, just anyone paying attention – already knew. The Democratic Party is far from unified.
Whether or not the Democrats win in 2020 is irrelevant. Whoever wins the primary will define the future of the Democratic party. And with it, the fate of American politics.
Will they continue to move to the left, officially becoming a socialist party? Or will voters reject socialism, instead choosing more moderate options?
Whatever the future may hold, Nancy Pelosi is an example of what Democrats used to be. Fiscal responsibility wasn’t always a dirty word among them – Bill Clinton even passed a law cutting welfare benefits.
However, she is ultimately a ghost, a wisp of the past. Her opposition to some of her party’s more extreme positions is the last remnant of responsibility in the party. And her past caving on immigration (combined with the insanity of the debates) signals more radicalism to come.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore