Some of the Democratic Party’s harshest critics are angling to be its leaders, and have not hesitated to attack it from the left, an MSNBC host opined Tuesday.
Chuck Todd played a series of clips showing prominent progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) lambasting the Democratic Party.
"There are forces on the Democratic side attacking the moderate and governing wings of their own party," he said.
Todd let Sanders and Warren’s words speak for the respective senators.
"The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure," Sanders told a crowd at the progressive People’s Summit in June.
"The Democratic Party must finally understand which side it is on," Sanders also said.
"The Democratic Party isn’t going back to the days of welfare reform and the crime bill," Warren said at Netroots Nation, referring to two major pieces of legislation signed by President Bill Clinton. Warren supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but has largely identified with the left wing of the party.
"We are not going back to the days of being lukewarm on choice," she also said at Netroots Nation. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton expressed the goal of abortion being "legal, safe, and rare," but that has been replaced in progressive circles by the slogan "free abortion on demand without apology."
"We’re not going back to the days when universal healthcare was something Democrats talked about on the campaign trail, but were too chicken to fight for after they got elected," she said. Clinton’s attempt to clinch universal health care during her husband’s administration failed without going to a vote.
After playing those clips, Todd pointed out that these members of the left wing were rallying around Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal, due to go to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.
"Right now Sanders is driving a big wedge between the progressive left and the moderate left with his Medicare-for-all health care bill," Todd said. Clinton herself has expressed doubt about the feasibility of Medicare-for-all in an interview Tuesday.
Todd pointed out that the senators who have signed onto the bill are largely those eyeing a presidential run in 2020. Notably, none of them is likely to have trouble with a 2018 reelection campaign.
"Not a single Senate Democrat that’s facing a tough reelection in 2018 — including Sherrod Brown, who normally would be on board with something like Medicare-for-all — they haven’t signed on," Todd said. "The Senate's top Democrat Chuck Schumer won't endorse it either, when asked about it today."
Todd considered Democrats to be in "survival mode" without good options. He pointed to people booing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) at a recent event, for being insufficiently passionate opposition to President Donald Trump, as an example of the bind in which Democrats find themselves.
"On the left, if you even say the president isn’t going to be impeached, as Senator Feinstein recently did, you get skewered by the base," Todd said.
Todd’s MSNBC colleague Joe Scarborough has perhaps been blunter in his judgment of Democrats’ problems. In August Scarborough asked, "what has happened to this party?" while his show’s panel castigated their message.