Former DCCC Chair: Party's Leftward Lurch Could Cost Dems in 2020

August 2, 2019

As the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee descends into chaos, its former chairman is warning Democrats not to alienate centrist voters by adopting a platform of far-left policies.

Former Rep. Steve Israel (D., N.Y.), who served as DCCC chair from 2011 to 2015, warns in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal that promoting "socialist policies" could sink the party's chances of winning in 2020. Israel identifies a rift in the party between the "disrupters," who want to impose a left-wing agenda with the help of a riled up base, and the "defeaters," who above all else want to remove Donald Trump from office by focusing on centrist voters.

Israel suggests that the defeaters have the more viable plan because a hard-left agenda is likely to turn off the sorts of voters Democrats will need to win back the White House:

Swing voters are, by their nature, centrists. They aren’t animated by extremes. They value a functioning government that moves them forward versus one that veers too far in either direction.

"Impeachment" falls hard on their ears. A position that sounds like open borders without any rules is out of touch. Arguing that you’re going to "blow up the system" doesn’t have much credibility against a candidate like Mr. Trump—who has, well, blown up the system.

Socialism may sound like a good voter-turnout strategy in Brooklyn, N.Y. It’s a recipe for defeat in Brooklyn, Iowa, which is in a congressional district flipped by a moderate Democrat in the 2018 midterms.

Israel's warning is just the latest example of the growing divide within the Democratic Party, which has been increasingly evident during the first two rounds of candidate debates. One way the divide has manifested itself is the degree to which some candidates are willing to denigrate, albeit indirectly, the legacy of former President Barack Obama, while others, most notable former Vice President Joe Biden, have rebuffed these attacks and pledged to build on the Obama legacy.