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Democrats cater to the woke at their electoral peril


The Democratic Party’s embrace of socialist-leaning politicians — namely “The Squad” — has not only put it on track to lose control of Congress in November. It’s at risk of becoming a marginal party that only appeals to the far left in years to come.

Ezra Klein last year aptly urged Democrats to recognize that most voters “are not liberals, are not woke, and do not see the world in the way that the people who staff and donate to Democratic campaigns do” after he interviewed prescient political analyst David Shor.

National Democrats’ failure to heed this lesson during Joe Biden’s presidency — along with their unwillingness to discredit the far-left economic, social and cultural positions The Squad and others promote — is a drag on the party’s short- and long-term political prospects.

Indeed, The Squad’s core policy positions are wildly out of touch with the broader electorate’s priorities — and with the country’s present needs — which bodes poorly for Democrats’ chances of retaining their congressional majorities in November’s midterm elections.

Amid record-high inflation, fears of a recession, soaring gas prices, rising crime and an immigration crisis, Americans want leaders who support fiscal prudence, enhancing US energy independence, responsible law enforcement and strengthening immigration laws.

Yet The Squad continues to advocate redistributive economic policies that stifle growth, drive up the price of everyday goods and ultimately increase inflation. Their $6 trillion “Green New Deal” calls for massive taxation and spending, forcing the transition away from fossil fuels, dismantling police departments and implementing open-border policies — positions that are not only politically damaging to Democrats but also imprudent, given the challenges facing the country.

The Squad’s criminal-justice and law-enforcement policies are especially damaging — specifically, their support for eliminating cash bail, reducing law-enforcement budgets and not charging perpetrators of nonviolent misdemeanors even if repeat offenders, who are frequently career criminals who go on to commit more serious and often violent crimes.

Notably, in several primary and special elections this year, voters across the country — even in the most liberal cities — decisively rejected these sorts of policies.

The recall of San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, marked the strongest rebuke of far-left crime and policing policies to date, underscoring the political threat Democrats face by being associated with “Defund the police” rhetoric.

Former San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin was recalled due to his soft-on-crime policies.
Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

And despite Biden’s best efforts to distance the party’s establishment wing from The Squad’s unpopular policing policies as crime rates rise across the country, it’s clear this association will haunt Democrats through November.

Besides rejecting progressive policing policies, American voters have consistently repudiated The Squad’s broader approach to politics, which relies on class-based political warfare, identity politics and disruption for disruption’s sake.

Earlier this year, voters recalled three left-wing San Francisco school-board members, feeling that the board was prioritizing political correctness at the expense of their children’s education. They thought the board pandered to leftist activists’ demands when it advanced a motion to rename buildings named after historical figures — such as Abraham Lincoln — instead of reopening schools.

This recall was evidence the “woke” politics the far left embraces is not only opposed by swing-voters but also by many Democratic constituents. If establishment Democrats continue to cater to this brand of politics, the party will consistently find itself out of step with most American voters and unable to build winning electoral coalitions.

Beyond politics, at a time democratic norms and values are under attack around the world and anti-Semitism is on the rise here at home, we cannot overlook the damaging effect of The Squad’s demonization of Israel and history of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Squad members like Rep. Ilhan Omar repeatedly bash Israel.
“Squad” members like Rep. Ilhan Omar repeatedly bash Israel.
Lenin Nolly/ZUMA Press Wire

Democratic Squad members consistently single out Israel — the world’s only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East — and label it an “apartheid state,” which is a patently false claim used as a rallying cry by extremists who seek Israel’s destruction.

In that same vein, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have pushed anti-Semitic conspiracies — by suggesting that Jews use their money to buy American support for Israel — and have compared America and Israel to the Taliban.

Now more than ever, Democrats need to reject these false claims and make clear that they stand with democracies around the world, from Ukraine to Israel, and against anti-Semitism.

National Democrats can no longer cater to The Squad and its brand of fringe politics while overlooking the larger political forces at play.

If the Democratic Party’s establishment wing continues to associate itself with The Squad — whose members exist on the fringes of the political spectrum and prioritize political correctness and “wokeness” over the real issues that matter to most Americans — the party will suffer electorally in 2022, 2024 and beyond.

Douglas Schoen is founder and partner in Schoen Cooperman Research, a polling and consulting firm, whose past clients include President Bill Clinton and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Andrew Stein is a former New York City Council president.



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