Mainstream Democrats keep winning — let’s not stop now

We hear it from both sides: “The middle is shrinking and the Dems are losing their center!’

On the far left, they would have you believe that the majority of Americans are aligned with their maximalist policies. On the right, they are trying to sell you that “radical socialists are driving the Democratic Party off a far-left cliff.” Both sides are essentially making the same claim. Both sides are wrong.

The Democratic Party’s ideological momentum is clearly anchored to the middle, and it is expanding its reach from the center. Mainstream Democrats helped win the majority in the House in 2018, held the majority in 2020, and remain strongly competitive in both swing districts and deep blue districts alike in 2022.

Need proof? Look no further than Ohio’s 11th District, where a mainstream, Democratic county councilwoman, Shontel Brown, just won a raucous primary against a well-funded, far-left opponent who co-chaired Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: House Democrats break internal impasse to adopt .5T budget plan The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Pelosi, Democratic moderates struggle to strike budget deal Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget MORE’ 2020 election. The same was true in the New York mayoral primary and the recent special election in Louisiana’s 2nd District.

Shontel had the early support of the New Democrat Coalition Action Fund, which supports and endorses pragmatic and moderate Democrats. We fundraised for her, introduced her to our national network of grassroots supporters, validated her candidacy and spread the word about her campaign — and it worked.

The fact of the matter is, Twitter’s algorithms can’t vote, and thankfully the talking heads on TV can’t either. The people vote: Real people with real concerns about the economy, the environment, their health care and their children’s future. And these same people — including lifelong Democrats in deep blue districts — are repeatedly rejecting the ultra left’s “my way or the highway” approach to governance. 

People want elected officials who care more about addressing our country’s problems than getting attention for themselves.

Americans all saw what happens when a president cares more about celebrity status and winning Twitter than fixing the nation’s problems. Those same Americans are tired of Washington’s lack of action. They want to send people to Washington, D.C., to do the unglamorous (but necessary) blocking and tackling that gets things done.

Conventional wisdom, especially on social media, discounted Shontel’s prospects. She started the race more than 30 points behind in the polls, but she never let up and never gave in. She worked tirelessly, focusing on the issues her prospective voters cared most about. She stayed on point and didn’t waver from her commitment to build coalitions, find allies and collaborate with her fellow legislators to advance the nation and improve the lives of her constituents … methodically, and pragmatically.

Members of the media should take notice. The press is quick to give airtime to the loudest politicians, while ignoring the work (and electoral victories) of more pragmatic candidates.

Or, as one Shontel Brown ad noted, “you might not know her, but you know her work.” Too true.

Electing Democrats like Joe BidenJoe BidenUS intel report on COVID-19 origins inconclusive: WaPo NBC correspondent: History will remember Afghan withdrawal as ‘very dark period’ Overnight Defense & National Security: Outcry over Biden’s Afghanistan deadline MORE and Shontel Brown is how we win, both electorally and in the halls of Congress. When elected leaders come to Washington with a get-stuff-done approach, we actually do accomplish things — like a 70 percent adult vaccination rate and an expanded child tax credit that could cut child poverty in half, if you need examples.

All that work builds a brand that Democrats can stand on. To put it plainly, Shontel Brown’s victory makes it that much harder for Republicans to demonize Democrats as out-of-touch radicals.

Sure, the far left will still throw rocks from the sidelines. Shontel Brown’s opponent blamed “evil money” for her loss, despite outraising Shontel. “Justice Democrats,” meanwhile, are lining up to challenge sitting Democrats, diverting millions of grassroots dollars away from our fight to keep the gavel out of Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse approves John Lewis voting rights measure Lawmakers from both parties push back at Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline Press: Why is Mo Brooks still in the House? MORE’s hands.

Our job as mainstream, pragmatic Democrats is to build a big tent party that can stand up to the barrage from both the far left and the far right. That means leaving plenty of room for progressives and moderates alike to work together.

Let’s face it: name-calling and rock-throwing won’t raise wages for workers. It won’t create jobs. It won’t make our communities safer. And it won’t stop the criminal, anti-democratic element that smashed its way into the Capitol in January.

What will? Here’s what Shontel had to say just after she won: “I want to roll up my sleeves and get to work. We have to make sure that we are delivering results…”. Better to build the future brick by brick from the ground up, than promise castles in the clouds.

I look forward to serving with her.

Rep. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderBiden nominates Holocaust historian as special envoy to combat antisemitism Sanders reaffirms support for Turner in Ohio amid Democratic rift Top Democrat leads bipartisan trip to Middle East MORE is a Democratic Member representing the 10th District of Illinois, and Chair of the New Democrat Coalition Action Fund.

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