Darrell Berkheimer: Democrats in need of an infusion of realism
Whether conservative or liberal, I think most voters want to see our politicians show more common sense and realism in what they say and do.
Yet we continue to see too much ideological extremism in both major political parties. And I suspect that none of us want to see five more years of congressional gridlock.
What happened to the better health-care program we were promised by Republicans in exchange for Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act? And what happened to President Donald Trump’s promises to reduce exorbitant drug prices and initiate an enormous program to modernize our deteriorating infrastructure?
But enough criticism of the Republicans for now. We hear an abundance of that daily. Let’s examine the realism missing from the Democrat Party and its candidates.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is gaining in support, and quite likely will win in the Iowa caucuses. We can further speculate that either former Vice President Joe Biden or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will win in the New Hampshire primary.
But Democrats are overdue to be more rational in selecting a candidate.
Sanders turned 78 in early September, and then had a heart attack only a few weeks later.
Biden will turn 77 later this month and will be 78 on inauguration day of 2021.
Can we really expect either one to handle the physical demands of the presidency for eight years? Or even four years — when Democrats should be voting for someone who can be re-elected?
Have Democrats become too irrational in their objective to beat Trump at all costs?
For instance, Sen. Sanders’ political positions are simply too far to the left for maybe all Republicans, and perhaps most independents. And we can’t even count on Sanders’ physical condition holding up for another year of rigorous campaigning.
Biden also is quite politically vulnerable. And we will see just how vulnerable when opposition critics examine in more detail his multitude of gaffes, his family ethics, position changes, years of cozy relations with the credit card and banking industries, and the corporation advantages he helped establish in Delaware. Those issues were cited just recently by both ProPublica and Mother Jones publications.
And Warren, although only 70 since June, continues to advocate for an unrealistic Medicare for All agenda — unrealistic because surveys and polls reveal public sentiment is strongly against a single-payer system that would eliminate private insurance plans.
Even local friend John Burnside, a staunch advocate of Medicare for All during the past couple years, has seen the light, and now advocates for “Medicare for All Who Want It.”
Democrats cannot afford to lose votes on major issues, and Medicare for all has been tagged a political loser — one that would reduce Warren’s election-winning chances despite some of her other policies and positions that are well liked. Good examples are her wealth tax and child care programs. Both have received broad support.
But a major point of realism that continues to be ignored by the candidates is how little can be accomplished without majority support in Congress. Candidates can promise as much as they want, but Congress will continue to control the purse strings. And without legislative action by both houses big plans go nowhere.
Even if Democrats can gain control of the Senate — a very big if — passage of big plans and new policies are far from guaranteed if voting groups back home convey strong objections.
Such pragmatic and realism failures are major factors in the slow growth of support for the more moderate candidates. That small group includes Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and even entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
To my way of thinking, that support has been entirely too slow in building for Klobuchar, who remains my pick as the Democrats’ best choice. She’s got the experience, the smarts, and more moderate views in which she continues to emphasize working with Republicans in order to accomplish needed changes.
As I noted in a column this past August, by working with Republican senators, Klobuchar was instrumental in passing more legislation than any other senator by the end of the 114th Congress. She sponsored or co-sponsored 111 pieces of legislation that became law.
And more than 10 highly-influential Republican senators have remarked how “thoughtful … respectful … and reasonable” she is. That group has included Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Shelly Moore Capito (West Virginia), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Pat Roberts (Kansas), John Thune (South Dakota) and Susan Collins (Maine).
This past September, comedian Bill Maher observed that he can foresee a scenario in which neither Biden nor Warren can garner enough delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic Party convention next July in Milwaukee. In that deadlock, he cited Klobuchar as the viable compromise nominee.
And as early as last January, conservative columnist George Will remarked that Klobuchar is the candidate “best equipped to send Trump packing.”
More recently – only a few days ago on Oct. 30 – “The Week” columnist David Faris referred to Klobuchar as “the one remaining moderate who is viable in both the primary and the general election and capable of stringing together multiple coherent sentences in a row.”
But if far left advocates fail to see the need to select a moderate with Klobuchar’s credentials, we could face another five years of gridlock. Because if Trump is re-elected and Republicans maintain control of the Senate, what chances are there that the far left, far right and Trump will compromise to accomplish anything?
In addition to considerable chaos, the accomplishments by Trump thus far have been tax cuts, conservative court appointments and suspending or easing of various safety regulations so big businesses can realize more profit from less expense.
What else could we look forward to?
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of six books available through Amazon. His latest, Essays from The Golden Throne, includes 60 columns published by The Union, plus a dozen travel and photo essays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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