One of the ways that the political establishment (that includes the mainstream media) keeps progressive policies in check is to take as self-evidently true that the Democratic party must appeal to Trump voters if they are to win. Another way to say essentially the same thing is to assert that they must avoid alienating the party ‘moderates’ by adopting policies that are seen as too far to the left. It is only in the progressive media that one finds the argument being made that appealing to Trump voters is a futile strategy and that one would be far better off trying to reach disenchanted voters by pushing a more progressive message.
This is why party leaders and the media were quick to seize on the Joe Biden candidacy, just as they were for Hillary Clinton in 2016. So it must be a source of concern to them that the message of ‘moderation’ is not catching on, as can be seen in this article from the main source of establishment politics thinking, the New York Times.
The Democratic debates this past week provided the clearest evidence yet that many of the leading presidential candidates are breaking with the incremental politics of the Clinton and Obama eras, and are embracing sweeping liberal policy changes on some of the most charged public issues in American life, even at the risk of political backlash,”
Vowing to eliminate private health insurance, decriminalize illegal immigration and provide government health care benefits to undocumented migrants, high-profile contenders like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are wagering that they can energize voters eager to dismantle President Trump’s hard-line policies.
But with moderate Democrats repeatedly drowned out or on the defensive in the debates, the sprint to the left has deeply unnerved establishment Democrats, who have largely picked the party nominees in recent decades.
So what will the establishment do if the overtly establishment Biden’s candidacy collapses entirely? They will look for an Obama type, someone who is able to project a progressive veneer to attract voters for the election but can be counted on to support the status quo once elected. Of the candidates who are currently leading, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are out of the question because they seem to actually believe in the policies they are advocating. At this point, the establishment’s best bets seem to be Kamala Harris and Cory Booker who are both friendly to the establishment, Wall Street, and the war machine. Pete Buttigieg seems a bit of an unknown at this point and they are unlikely to risk it with him, unless he surges ahead of Harris and Booker, at which point they will try to co-opt him as the counterweight to Sanders and Warren.