How Can Democrats Keep Themselves From Overreaching?

And is that even the right question for 2020?

Comments: 229

  1. There is no "overreaching" in removing Trump from office. And there is no "overreaching" is trying to right and neutralize the staggering damage he has caused.

  2. @srwdm I guess you don't get it. If Trump is removed from office in 2020 and Dems take over Congress, the Dems must not "overreach" by shoving down the throats of America such far left notions as Medicare for All, amnesty for illegal immigrants, tax increases on the middle class, slavery reparations, etc, then the backlash will mean the Republicans will take over Congress in 2022. And potentially the White House in 2024. That's why Dems have to right the wrongs but not go too far with their newfound power.

  3. @srwdm Saying there is "no overreaching" is similar to phrases like "by any means necessary" or "no debate", are the tools of violent revolutions that turn into facist or marxist dictatorships. They are not the slogans of stable democracies or liberal societies. Trump is president because he won an election. I don't like it, you don't like, a lot of people don't like it. He is a terrible president. Trump needs to be removed by the process we have; first, attempt impeachment and removal, and if that doesn't work, elections. And once the Democrats are in power, their most important task will not be punishing political enemies or passing an agenda "by any means necessary," but rather will be the restoration of our political norms and bringing the tone of our discourse back to what is constructive and appropriate for a democratic, multicultural, and liberal society.

  4. @srwdm Removing Trump by the overreach of the Congress will not get Democrats any votes. Trump should be beaten at the ballot box. The voters are transactional, if they are offered things they want and need they would vote for the Democrats. I am afraid the Dems want to impeach Trump because they are not willing to compete for our votes fair and square.

  5. Democrats are hoping that impeachment will seal it for them with the election next year, but while McConnell has said he will “take it up,” he likely has no plans to hold a vote. He doesn’t want Senate Republicans on record not voting to convict. Meanwhile, the Fed will probably lower rates again by the end of the year, and Trump may have plans to resolve the trade war with China in order to send the economy soaring before the election. So what do Democrats focus on? Cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, absolutely. And of course the core trifecta of issues: climate change, health care, and gun control. If Democrats emphasize rejoining the world community with the Paris Accord, shoring up the ACA and reining in prescription drug costs without threatening private insurance plans, and instituting robust gun background checks, they will be in good shape. Right down the middle. Workable plans to buttress infrastructure and public education would be the icing on the cake. Trump claims that Democrats are using impeachment to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. But the House is simply doing its constitutional duty in holding the president accountable for the impeachable offenses of the Ukraine affair and associated obstruction. Democrats won the House fairly in 2018. Isn’t it Trump who is trying to overturn the results of that election?

  6. @Blue Moon What are you even talking about. No Dem is talking about cuts to Medicaid, Medicare/SS. Those are totally Republican plans - because, you know, after the tax cuts (for the rich) we can't afford those basic programs to help Americans live decent lives.

  7. @Blue Moon It's great to see that Mr. Edsall sees that a blue wave victory on November 3, 2020 is so likely that he is warning Democrats not to overreach after that victory gives Democrats control of Congress and the White House.

  8. @RMS "In this political climate, Begala continued, the best thing a Democratic presidential candidate can do is 'tell voters that Trump has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. I did not hear one candidate raise that in the last Democratic debate, but it is the issue most likely to defeat Trump.'" I was just referencing this quote from the column. @OldBoatMan Nixon was associated with a burglary; for most people that equals a crime. A Ukraine phone call? Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats need to sell it well to the American public. (Will enough people care about the cover-up here vs Nixon?) The Senate will not convict; Trump is still their best chance to win next year ... who would replace him at this late date? It could be a close election next year, one that (ironically) favors interference. We're not out of the woods yet.

  9. Matt Grossman...pointed out "the last two Democratic presidents have had large agendas and attempted to move policy substantially leftward across issue areas, resulting in public opinion moving in a conservative direction in response and contributing to historic midterm losses in 1994 and 2010." So, if the public is ready to lean towards the left on social and cultural issues, how does one explain the brakes on the two recent Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? And Isabel Sawhill writes that "Democrats did not do enough when they were in power to tackle the rise in inequality, inadequate education and health care, stagnant wages, and declining communities that would, in time, create a frustrated electorate — all too ready to elect a Donald Trump in 2016." The above doesn't take into consideration the Republican entrenchment on The Hill. President Obama had a majority for two years but was filibustered out of time by Republicans. The public, impatient, became weary and refused to punish Republicans at the ballot box for standing in the door. If a Democrat regains the White House in 2021, there won't be an emphasis on "overreaching." The vast damage that Donald Trump has done to the nation will be the huge task ahead: repairing the gaping rents across the nation in every aspect of governance, a dynamic that Donald Trump eschewed, seeking only to improve his and his family's wealth at the expense of the public trust. We'll all have plenty of work to do.

  10. @Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 And let's not forget the hits the Democratic Party took when Obama and Congress went all in for Obamacare. The cost was losing the House in 2010, as well as six seats in the Senate. Now, those who have Obamacare, including those who were told by the gops to oppose it, fight tooth and nail when the gops threaten to repeal it.

  11. @Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 The Democrats during the entire 8 years of Obama had a veto-proof majority in Senate and House for 33 days - not 2 years. Yes, 33 days. The Democratic supermajority in the Senate was only 33 days at most. Al Franken was sworn in as a US Senator on July 7, 2009. That meant for 170 days Obama and the Democrats did not have a supermajority to break cloture. Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008, attended Obama's inauguration but had a seizure that day. Numerous reports mention his poor health made it difficult to participate in the health care bill negotiations. Kennedy was unable to vote on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on August 9, 2009. In fact, Kennedy was the only Senator not to vote, indicating his health did not permit him to do so. He died on 8/25/2009. So 7/7/2009 to 08/08/2009 is 33 days at most. Mitch McConnell set the modern records for the most filibusters during Obama’s 8 years in office. McConnell literally filibustered his own bill when Democrats agreed to support it, which gives an idea of how unhinged his partisanship had become. GOP apologists have the word "overreach" as a keyboard shortcut in correlation to "Democrat." They're gaming the refs. The Dems can demonstrate courage of their actions to defend the constitution, the GOP cannot.

  12. To characterize Clinton and Obama as pursuing progressive agendas is fantasy. Both were centrists, and both got run over. What is needed is somebody to fulfill the role of Eleanor Roosevelt's spokesman. Only this time the woman can occupy the Oval Office and speak for herself.

  13. The public has incredible short term memory, as well as an absurd impatience. They want immediate results. When Democrats move to enact policies, results take time. Republicans are masterful at swooping in to criticize, and then take credit when things do change and improve (See 2008-present). Having a powerful ally lie through their teeth (Fox,Rush, etc) aids this. Ive seen this happen for so long I fear that it won’t change.

  14. @LFK Built in advantage of cheaters and hypocrites. Political correctness does not actually exist. Democrats absolutely failed to permanently raise the well being and financial stability of rural Americans while Obama was President, and that is partly to blame for Trump. White backlash and denialism are going to have be addressed HEAD ON.

  15. Maybe Mr. Edsall's question should be "Have the Republicans overreached?" They are clearly moving toward an authoritarian system with themselves running the show. And now it's so obvious that even people who don't follow politics can see it. Another problem with Mr. Edsall's question is the idea that it would be overreach for Democrats to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for Medicare for All. Of course taxes must be raised, but there would be an overall reduction in financial outlay for said middle class when they don't have to buy insurance and deal with co-pays and deductibles while still having access to health care. Employers would have reduced expenses as well, and that would mean that instead of offering health insurance to attract employees they could offer better wages. But there is a struggle ahead because the Republicans will not give up without a fight - and they seem to believe that any amount of cheating is warranted in order to win.

  16. @Marilyn Burbank No evidence for a reduction in overall outlays for the middle class. Never happens!

  17. @Beetle Really? Try, like, every western European country.

  18. @Marilyn Burbank Great comment Marilyn, thank you.

  19. Comments in this newspaper to the op-ed about the small town in Alabama that refused to fully fund its library director, saw many folks from similar fly-over small towns explaining the particulars of their (often former) communities. Two things: 1) many of those remaining in those communities were the least ambitious and hard-working; 2) many Americans not from these small communities were getting fed-up with criticisms of city- and suburban- folk by those who lived off others' taxes and who had an out-sized political influence. Sure, too many progressives live together and preach to the choir without having an idea of how others hear their "PC" screams. But behind that PC inelegance are serious desires to help others, live up to the Declaration of Independence's self-evident beliefs, and create a truly democratic future in a sustainable environment. So, progressive Democrats should be more careful in their rhetoric, should purge themselves of their own bad habits (Hunter Biden's leeching off of his father's position in our government), but not hesitate in their actions to support their neighbors, countrymen, and fellow humans anywhere. Maybe Obama could have punished the bankers while cleaning up their mess. But maybe that was not a real option at the time. We need to move away from glib answers. And we need to resist excessive self-doubt. First we have to fix the problem of our representatives being fund-raisers at the expense of being states-men and women.

  20. At local, state and national levels the overreach of Democrats is a danger to winning elections. Extreme left positions are very popular in the most activist portions of primary voters. It is absolutely true that political correctness drives the small group debates of seriously motivated members of the Democratic base. But the overreach is wide but shallow. It hurts us at the voting both because the average American doesn't need or want extremes. We want improvements not a "throw the baby out with the bathwater" approaches.

  21. Democrats in power need more nuance. There is much that cannot be done when one of the branches of Congress is majority Republican. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Paul Ryan were masters of obstructionism and unwilling to compromise. The problem is Congress concerned about power not service to the Country.

  22. This column suggests that our politics are completely derived from the roots up, that our population, as a group, controls the narrative and democracy takes care of the rest. The billions of dollars spent on political influence must be a complete waste of money. Those successful plutocrats who have made billions from their business expertise just throw away their money to create political propaganda think tanks as a distracting hobby, like building model ships in bottles. Rupert Murdoch hired Roger Ails because he wanted the best journalist in the country to create his baby, he just believed this country's foremost genius at political propaganda was the man for the job of creating a world class news organization. Nothing happening here, just move on. The people will decide.

  23. @alan haigh Believe me, the open borders Kochs are just as damaged a brand to Republican voters as a Soros or any of the other billionaire meddlers on your side. What I like about being a conservative is that there's less endorsement of double standards.

  24. @Tina Trent "What I like about being a conservative is that there's less endorsement of double standards." Yeah, right. Maybe sealing the border isn't in the Koch cabal interest, but Trump's tax policy was composed by it. They don't support banning abortion either, but a bit of compromise on lesser issues to keep their base voting against their overall economic interests is still necessary. History will not include Soros in its roster of villains. The same can't be said of the Kochs.

  25. @alan haigh Thank you. This column is arguing for an unsuccessful status quo while also completely ignoring one of the biggest issues that helped lead people in a certain direction — propaganda

  26. Do: Talk about how all people should be able to access housing and jobs without discrimination. Appeal to people's love of their own personal liberty by pointing out that all men and women should be allowed to present themselves as they choose without getting fired from work. Don't: Celebrate two muscled boys in wigs and eyeliner for beating a bunch of high school girls at their own track championship, or regurgitate junvenile things from Twitter like a "Transwoman is a woman, No Debate!" Do: Appeal to people's sense of fairness and liberty by pointing out that African Americans are often targeted for minor, and often superficial, infractions that involve things white people usually get away with, very often to extort for fines for municipalities. Don't: Create victim narratives around people who were shot by police while engaging in violently criminal behavior. Do: Advocate for policies, taxation structures, and job and consumer protections that promote economic prosperity for all people who work hard, including low skill workers. Don't: Engage in class warfare or demonize people just for being successful. Do: Advocate for changes to our healthcare and higher education systems that will help control run away prices, bloated administrations, and make those public goods more accessible to all. Don't: Just simply promise Free Stuff and say it will be wonderful, like in Europe, without having any clue how healthcare or higher education works in Europe.

  27. @AACNY Its too bad that the issue is so polarized. Things like dress and how one presents themselves are superficial and culturally conditioned. In a free society, with many cultures, you should be able to dress how you feel most comfortable irregardless of sex. People with Gender Dysphoria in should have a right to present themselves as the opposite sex as part of their treatment, use other pronouns, or use the bathroom of their choice, which are all very public anyway, and which people frequently use without regard to sex (for example children going to a bathroom with an opposite sex parent, women ducking into the mens room when the women's room has a line, etc). This is just being kind and courteous. At the same time, this does not change their biological sex. Even a SCOTUS ruling that men can wear women's clothes should depend on them being legally defined as men. Things that are segregated by sex for good reasons, like locker rooms and sports, should remain so. This is especially important when you consider that some cultures and religions, including those of many immigrants and people of color, have struct customs and taboos around sex and modesty. Everyone's rights can be reasonably accommodated, within reason, in a diverse country.

  28. @A F Don't: Belittle the candidates who would attempt to create a level economic playing field by writing that they're promising "'Free Stuff and say it will be be wonderful, like in Europe, without having any clue how healthcare or higher education works in Europe.'" Do: Realize that not one of the candidates is promising "Free Stuff", and that you have no way of knowing how well versed they are in European economics (although Elizabeth Warren was a professor of Economics at Harvard, so she might have a clue), but in fact reveal your own ignorance of how healthcare and education are funded in Europe. The details vary from country to country, but here's a clue: not one EU country devotes an atomic particle of its revenue to the military compared to the obscene amount wasted by the United States.

  29. @A F To the average voter in the middle class struggling to keep up, this seems like common sense. If the Democratic elite and Party operatives miss this yet again, then they will let the Republicans walk all over them. Obama ran like a progressive, but governed like a corporatist. Had he really addressed middle class concerns, maybe Trump would not be President.

  30. Tom, from my POV, this election will be the easier one; the Trump / GOP revulsion factor is that high among a substantial majority of the likely 2020 electorate; the Democrats real challenge will come in 2022 (just as it did in 2010). IMHO, liberal identity politics is today only fueling conservative identity politics; this should be obvious. We were lucky last time with Trump - who is a train wreck of a leader. Imagine if a Ted Cruz, a smarter, less impulse-driven politician, had won? Furthermore, Democrats will not be able to control the Senate and House for the necessary decade or more (given all that needs to be done, both in the aftermath of the Trump Presidency and the still lingering aftermath of the world financial crisis) without cementing their hold on a reasonable segment of the white working-class (especially when it comes to holding seats in western Senate states). Thus, Democrats need to remain pragmatic, even in victory. Economic fairness issues that cut across ethnic and racial lines are best for Democrats; anything controversial must enjoy broad support (like the support of the 70% who currently tell pollsters that they want the Federal Government more involved in the delivery of health care - as opposed to roughly 15% that support the abolishment of private insurance). We have perhaps 15 years to arrest climate change - and with the GOP having become the party of denial, any loss of control will only lead to sabotage of this effort.

  31. @Matthew Carnicelli "... We have perhaps 15 years to arrest climate change …" I agree with your comment with one exception: it is no longer possible to arrest climate change. The Keeling curve is currently at 415 ppm. Global heating (which drives the climate crisis) is already on a roll, ramping up over time, and baked in for decades to come no matter what action anybody takes. We are now, and have been for at least 3 decades, in damage control mode. We are now relegated to attempt to delay and mitigate the onset of the multitude variegated looming environmental disasters. There will be no arresting of anything.

  32. @AACNY I imagine such stances will not dominate the general election campaign and senate races as much as the primaries.

  33. @Matthew Carnicelli Really super comment Matthew. "Overreaching" is not as much a problem as under inspiring and under selling.

  34. “For about 20 years, Democratic strategists have been arguing that demographic change will soon provide Democrats a durable advantage. They failed to foresee the force of the white backlash against these demographic trends.” And political experts apparently seem unable to realize the backlash generates a still-more powerful backlash. Ed Gillespie’s race-baiting sunk him in the Virginia governor’s race in 2017; Trump’s screaming about caravans may have deepened the landslide against him in 2018. Is there a reason we just continue to ignore these very recent lessons? Is there a reason the advice for Democrats is to continually go into a defensive crouch? Because experience increasingly says that it pays to be assertive and unapologetic when defending our rich, pluralistic society.

  35. The key observation in his piece is that Obama didn't do enough on "inequality, inadequate education and health care, stagnant wages, and declining communities." Republicans love to call him a radical and a socialist. In fact, he was very conservative Democrat when it came to economic matters. He never questioned the basic Clinton-Bush economic model he was handed, even though it had led to disaster and played a key -- probably the key role in electing him. Obama should done a much more modest fix on health care -- outlawed denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and a few other changes -- and then expended his enormous political capital to break up the banks, reduce the role of finance in the economy, aggressively expose and wherever possible prosecute wrongdoing related to the 2008 financial meltdown, vigorously enforce anti-trust laws, promote unions, reform NFTA and other trade agreements and fight for more progressive taxation. It would be unfair to blame Obama for Trump, but I think it is to fair to say he failed to fully grasp the forces that swept him into power and act on them. That missed opportunity to transform or at least significantly change the country's economic system laid the groundwork for the disaster that is unfolding before out eyes.

  36. @Christopher Hoffman What you've written about Obama is certainly true. It would be ironic if his failure to make any substantive change in the status quo created a political environment wherein a thing like Trump could become President, whose sheer venality finally forced a significant and positive transformation throughout the country's institutions.

  37. @Christopher Hoffman I would say that since the Democratic candidate in 2016 got 3 million more popular votes than Trump that all this teeth gnashing is nonsensical. Trump won the Electoral College and if the Dems focus on those states they shouldn’t have a problem in 2020. However, you and others make a BIG ERROR if you think that if Trump is not convicted and removed from office he is about to let a perfectly good election go to waste you are very much mistaken. He will do everything in his power and then some to undermine and deligitimate that election. If it goes to the Congress he wins because Republicans never abandon their own and if it is another Bush v. Gore a Republican dominated SC will decide for the Republican — again. The public remains incredibly naive if it continues to believe that the Republican Party is interested in fair elections rather than winning by any means. We know from their own writing and statements that political power is their most important goal. We should believe them and act accordingly.

  38. @John Bacher Trump "forced a significant and positive transformation throughout the country's institutions"? Perhaps someone "not of this Earth" could explain the positive aspects to me.

  39. The country is united around one thing: we need to be running our government differently. Biden’s argument that we need to return to “normal “ is failing to resonate. The Democratic candidates that are least associated with change (Buttigieg, Klobuchar) are stuck in single digits in the polls, even though both are otherwise attractive. We need big change, or to borrow the phrase from my candidate, “big, structural change”. Yes, I’m white, educated, urban and more affluent than most. I would not stand to benefit directly from the policy changes that Elizabeth has proposed. But I want to be a citizen of a country that aims to raise the fortunes of the lost, the least and the last. I want to promote good health, stronger communities and a culture of decency. That is not “over-reaching”.

  40. @Cousy I'm curious where you got your information on Buttigieg if you think he is not associated or for change. That's like his entire platform. Did you mean Joe Biden?

  41. @Galt I'm not talking about information - I'm talking about his perceived niche in the primary marketplace (and I really like Mayor Pete). In the larger imagination, Pete is more in the "return to decency" camp than he is the "structural change" camp. For better or worse, that message isn't selling right now.

  42. @cousy So very well said. Democrats (or Republicans) would probably get more actual governing done and garner more public support if they framed the discussion in a “rising tide lifts all boats” way. Enough of the Super Yachts (or even modest day cruisers) thinking it’s ok to sail right over the rest of the dinghies.

  43. We live in a knowledge based world. Machines and the computers that drive them are rapidly supplanting unskilled and low skilled work. When AI advances, many white collar jobs will also be threatened. Looking at a bell curve of IQ, fully 48% of the population has an IQ between 70 and 100. There are no factory jobs for them to participate in anymore. How do you teach a skill set that requires an IQ of 110 to someone with an IQ of 90? People are not rational, we are emotional, even those with high IQ. Everything we do is done to satisfy our emotions. What is one of the most prevalent and basic of emotions? Jealousy. Even the ancient bible got that right. Jealousy leads to spite and hate. Trump and the Republicans have leveraged off of mass jealousy to instill spite and hatred. Much of the support for Trump isn't based in helping those who have been left out. It's in hurting those who have been left in. So how do Democrats try to get the left out left in? They want to use social programs. But the left out considerers those programs socialism and reject them. They consider them to be patronizing, being looked down upon, and attacks on their culture. These divisions have become so hardened and entrenched, that there may not be a way to re include the left out. Due to the exploitation of this miasma by the GOP, the only solution may be to vote them out of power as demographics allow. The left out have made their choices and will have to contend with them.

  44. @Bruce Rozenblit, I think your pessimism is unwarranted. Technological advancement can also make jobs which formerly required skills easy to do for people of low IQ. When machines are smart, their operators do not have to be.

  45. @Bruce Rozenblit "How do you teach a skill set that requires an IQ of 110 to someone with an IQ of 90?" My experience is that an IQ within the normal range of 90 to 110 is an indicator of normal ability and not an indicator of inability. The three indicators of performance are: 1. the individual's motivation to succeed; 2. the supervisor's ability to train the individual; and 3. the supervisor's coaching skills (observing and evaluating performance, and making meaningful suggestions for improvement). That is not to say that every employee can do every job. What I am saying is that almost every employee with normal intelligence, motivation, training and coaching can succeed at least one job in every well run business.

  46. The problem is that these theories fall apart when they meet the "Candidate." Hillary Clinton, who I voted for, substantially offered an "Obama third term," but she was a terrible candidate. And she lost (I know, I know, she "won" the popular vote, but that's not how it works). So the real question now is, which Democrat can beat Trump? Fundamentally, their policies are similar, so it comes down to the candidate. Biden? His son got 50K a month because his dad was VP. He's falling in the polls. He's done. Sanders. Sad to say, but his health is an issue. Warren? Lied about her heritage, and it seems also whether or not she was fired for being pregnant. Only 2 compared to Trump's many, but.... So while all of these "theories" here may be true, the Candidate is the most important thing. Period. And I fear, no Democrat running can beat Trump.

  47. @profwilliams I don't agree that Warren "lied" about her heritage or the reasons she left her job many years ago, but it's worrisome that you cite those two assertions as reasons she can't be elected president. I think the major challenges she faces are her gender and the massive Republican PR machine. She can't do anything about being a woman, but perhaps Democrats can work very hard to create their own PR machine that will change hearts and minds. They have never been really good at doing that and it has hurt them.

  48. @profwilliams - If the integrity of the candidate is all important, how in the world did Trump get elected? PS It is clear that you have never read Hillary's platform or detailed fact sheets or you would not have said she offered an "Obama third term." Here two small sections: "Prosecuting individuals when they break the law. Hillary would extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting major financial frauds, enhance whistleblower rewards, and provide the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission with more resources to prosecute wrongdoing." "Holding executives accountable when they are responsible for their subordinates’ misconduct. Hillary believes that when corporations pay large fines to the government for violating the law, those fines should cut into the bonuses of the executives who were responsible for or should have caught the problem. And when egregious misconduct happens on an executive’s watch, that executive should lose his or her job." She lost because of a perfect storm of media irresponsibility by avoiding coverage of policy, Comey's unethical behavior, and a decades long campaign of lies about her.

  49. @profwilliams how savvy, and terrifying... I have to hope the collective revulsion for Trump overcomes the bland choice on the left.

  50. My ongoing question is how often people who are sure they are right are wrong. Stories this morning included a UK treatment program for sex offenders that increases rates of recidivism--and it's been going on for 30 years. Programs that focus on racial inequity above all else and end up increasing disparity--see the Seattle school system. The only that's sure is that people are wrong a lot of the time. That includes the well intentioned.

  51. "Democrats did not do enough when they were in power to tackle the rise in inequality, inadequate education and health care, stagnant wages, and declining communities that would, in time, create a frustrated electorate — all too ready to elect a Donald Trump in 2016." It's really disingenuous to say that the Democrats didn't do enough. Obama did his best, but he was stonewalled after the first year by McConnell & Co., who completely blocked all attempts to address the issues listed.

  52. Well, he could have, but didn’t, prosecute the architects of the 2008 recession. Instead, he bailed them out. Not a single one went to jail. But millions of main streeters lost their homes.

  53. @JJ Exactly, JJ. That's a major part of why Obama voters turned to Trump -- Obama failed them.

  54. Then his best simply wasn’t good enough.

  55. All this has me wondering if the presidential candidate of the future is an independent who distances him or herself from the internecine party warfare between elephants and donkeys. In some ways, there's not a lot of distance between two parties that are unanimous in their fealty to corporate interests. Both parties are tugged by corporate strings. Their telegenic combat masks that deeper reality. It's possible that a young, savvy candidate could emerge on a platform that is 'conservative' (pro-environment; cost-conscious; smart spending of resources; reticent on global military intervention) and 'liberal' (focused on equalizing class disparity instead of identity politics by committing to universal healthcare and other safety nets). There's plenty of good sense from both political perspectives that has been lost in the dustup in Washington. A new party getting traction with the electorate is not impossible—it might be inevitable.

  56. @Questioner Do you really think repubs are "pro-environment" or "cost-conscious," care about "smart spending" of resources or are reticent re use of the military? If so, I'd love to see the color of the sky in your world.

  57. Such complex and broad analysis is welcomed, but how many readers can get their head around this, taxed as they are of time and energy that goes into the daily grind? Hence the danger of not dishing out the simple message that gets better results, faster, that is expunge Trump! The democrats should realize the existential threat Trump is posing to America's democracy. They should establish a war room. Ask Bernie and Biden to clear the road for Warren. Turn in the articles of impeachment and keep impeaching. Do everything to remove Trump. Save democracy before a civil war - that was not an empty threat - gets triggered.

  58. The author argues that change comes in small incremental steps and he looks at our recent progress in light of a two-party system that battles back and forth at the polls. There is another change model though. To save ourselves from effects of global warming (and the rest of the planet from extinction) we need to look toward the massive and instant change model. We can no longer wait until 2030, then 2050 then 2100. In fact, our entire economy, including the current model of laissez-faire government, with unrestrained capitalism must change, and immediately. Are there historical precedence? Yes. Look at WW2. Our industry switched on a dime from peace production to war production. And so did the civilian population. And, yes again, after the great depression, FDR reworked our economy significantly. There is always some trigger event to set off this jump. It probably won't be the 2020 election, but some series of events very close. (Perhaps a major city being destroyed by a CAT5 hurricane.)

  59. "There is a credible argument............. that the public is prepared to support a turn to the left." That may be so, but does that matter? The issue is the dysfunction in the US government. The majorities required to actually change anything in a meaningful way are not achievable.

  60. “Democrats did not do enough when they were in power to tackle the rise in inequality, inadequate education and health care, stagnant wages, and declining communities that would, in time, create a frustrated electorate — all too ready to elect a Donald Trump in 2016.” The reason that this occurred is the successful strategy of the Republicans to block efforts. Republicans are adept at recognizing that it’s not what the party stands for, but how they are perceived that is important. This is why Trumps sheep support a wolf in sheep’s clothes. If there is a singular problem with the Democrats, it is their failure to effectively communicate to these groups to enlighten them on reality. It is perhaps because so many Democrats are well-educated, they do not fully perceive the problems in communicating their positions. Indeed, if you did polling for so many working class white people that voted Republican, you would find that a great majority of them do not fully recognize what the parties stand for. I think that many highly educated Democrats take for granted that voters know what they know. This is a tremendous mistake. Democrat should be convening Townhall meetings to present to the public plans for a response to the Republican positions related to healthcare, Medicare, Social Security and taxation.

  61. @AACNY I really don't want to start a negative discussion. There are too many of those everywhere. Please tell me the message that the Democrats are sending out that makes selection of a Republican more appropriate for working class white voters.

  62. Elsewhere today there is a column by Mitch Daniels, the Republican former governor of Indiana about the challenges of reducing waste and inefficiency in government programs. This is an issue Democrat’s should embrace, not criticize. Expanding the safety net and providing greater opportunity for the disadvantaged has to be paired with rigorous accountability. Free college may be a great idea but it also has the potential to be a massive boondoggle. Just look at the amount of provider fraud and cost increases in healthcare after the advent of Medicare and Medicaid. All existing programs are entrenched and all have lobbyists but democrats must be willing to cull the inefficient if they expect taxpayers to pay for them.

  63. @Joel Sanders MD is drinking the same old GOP wine. Funny how you invoke "accountability" but never for other kinds of government spending: military waste, subsidies for successful business, and billionaire tax cuts.

  64. @David Henry Going after waste in all those ares is important too. Don’t make assumptions about where I draw the line on accountability. Military waste is enormous, much greater than in human services.

  65. The problem is that the cultural elites are the essence of the Democratic Party at this point. That is why they are so wholly focused on the Supreme Court, which has no real power over economic issues. The predictions of Republican demise will be as fleeting as in the past.

  66. @Michael Livingston’s Why do you think the Supreme Court has no real power over economic issues? Property rights are at the heart of what the Court decides. They go to the essence of economic activity. Rulings against unions are just one manifestation of judicial decisions that shape our economy. Even the Citizens United decision has economic implications.

  67. While Democratic economic policy proposals poll well, they are hampered by economic reality: enacting very high taxes on the small minority of people who are responsible for almost all of the job creation in the country will result in a brain drain and economic collapse. If a dog catches up with a truck, the truck wins.

  68. @Troglotia DuBoeuf Trust fund babies and hedge fund managers don't create jobs. There is a lot of static wealth out there that was not earned, but inherited or amassed in unproductive ways. Taxing this wealth more fairly to invest in infrastructure and education is not only the right thing to do - it's the smart thing to do.

  69. @Troglotia DuBoeuf If that minority of people on the top paid the taxes they ought to be paying, that tax money would go in part to enable the rest of us to create jobs, start new industries, and recreate some semblance of the time when the rich were taxed at well over 50% of income (a boom time economically). That tax money doesn't just float off into space -- it goes into the pockets of entrepreneurs, that is creative Americans, who will spend it building industries that meet the needs of an environmentally threatened world.

  70. @Mary Spross In addition to raising the estate tax and taxes on unearned wealth, transferring funds from the bloated military budget to pay for human needs rather than human destruction would greatly improve the lives of many Americans, including Trump supporters.

  71. Yesterday on NPR, the whistle-blower who warned the world that Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook data to manipulate public opinion gave an interesting interview to Terry Gross. He said that his interviews with Trump supporters reminded him of Gay Pride. For both Trump supporters and gays, what mattered was a sense of self-worth, a demand for respect for who they were and acceptance of what they do. That rang true to me and I think it has relevance to challenges to Democrats. The economic hollowing out of rural communities is an important part of it. Republicans have manipulated the emotions of those who have been left behind, but they have also done nothing to stop the economic decline. Their ideology says that people have to be responsible for solving their problems. That may make Trump supporters in those declining communities feel even worse about themselves. If we continue to allow the markets to make the decisions that impact society, we may have efficiency, but there will be continuing suffering. I think Democrats have to go beyond making promises and work hard to change hearts and minds.

  72. There was a piece the other day about the self defeating rural majorities. It's good character to tighten your belt when you should be investing in the community so the community just keeps shrinking as belts keep being tightened. All thanks to Fox convincing them to ignore the fact that their rightful funds were appropriated by the rich donors to Mitch & company.

  73. People should remember what happened in 2010. Obama lost his governing majority in just two years because of Obamacare, and we were left with six years of paralysis and growing tensions that ultimately led to Trump. The public doesn’t like Trump and it wants the Democrats to not be Trump. But public opinion is thermostatic. There is not broad or deep support for the Democrats to pass their own radical agenda, especially not Medicare For All. Some issue polls do show strong support for some Democratic policies, but these are thermostatic and can switch quickly once Trump is gone—the issue polls for free trade now show 75%+ public support for it, but that doesn’t mean it’d be a good idea politically for the Democrats to make unilateral free trade the centerpiece of their policy agenda. If the Democrats try sweeping reforms again, we’ll get another Tea Party—and if Republican nativism and race-baiting are out of the picture once they aren’t in power any more, a good chunk of those Asian and Hispanic and college-educated voters the Democrats want to rely on are going to join it. If they want to save the Republic, the Democrats need to turn down the heat, both in rhetoric and substance.

  74. @HO What happened in 2010 could just as easily be explained like this: When Democrats had power, they didn't go far enough. In 2007, Pelosi took impeachment off the table, therefore allowing Bush to escape accountability for the Iraq War and torture; and in 2009, Obama didn't hold the big banks accountable for the financial collapse, and then he allowed the insurance companies to write the ACA without the much-needed public option to guarantee affordability.

  75. @HO It was 2012 when the Dems lost the House, and much of it was because of brutalizing, negative and dishonest ads about the ACA by the gop. Therefore, the ACA was not able to get worked on, enabling it to be sub-standard, yet many of those who feared it have used it gladly since. Who's to say what too progressive, as "Obamacare" was certainly presented as such, yet has helped millions. Yes, maybe now is not the time to pile so much stuff onto the public, however.

  76. @HO you don't fight a raging fire with a watering can. Obama tried that and all it got him was years of obstruction and stonewalling from the right. We need revolutionary change to get us out of the mess we are in.

  77. Build the vision and the narrative. The people will come. People fear for the future of the earth, for their children, and for democracy. Government is broken. Inequality grows unbound. We are all dependent on a fossil fueled and unsustainable way of living. Growth goes to where the capital and influence flows. The influence of techno-optimist billionaires in shaping the future is unquestioned. Is their vision where we really want to go? The simple question -- to what end? -- is rarely asked. Muddling into tomorrow on what got us to today ain't gonna hack it. Technocrats are short on the vision thing. Time to make saving the earth from ourselves our central organizing principle. Time for ecological correctness. Time to educate a generation with the vision and the know-how to save the planet from greenhouse gases, preserve the remaining biodiversity, restore the earth's ecosystems and environmental services while reversing man's disastrous planetary overreach. Much of this work needs to begin in rural USA.

  78. Instead of swerving from left to right, collapsing into the ditch, then grabbing the wheel and yanking it back in the other direction, and ending in the other ditch, why don’t we drive down the left side of the road? The theory that the Democrats will be saved by a younger demographic that will be always be more liberal is a fallacy. For example, Susan Rice was on MSNBC and said HER son is a committed conservative, while her daughter is very liberal,. The Democrats need to find solutions to traditional problems like healthcare and inequality — issues that appeal across all spectrums and demographics, and less about identity politics, while maintaining and expanding a broad spectrum of rights for all. Gently reach for the wheel and steer it left. We don’t want to end up in a ditch again. And certainly not return to the swamp we are in now.

  79. The fact that Elizabeth Warren is climbing up in the Democratic polls of candidates , only reveals her appeal among Democrats but does not reveal how she will be viewed in a national election , if in fact Democratic voters choose her as their candidate. I think her appeal among Independents will not be received as well given her controversial mandatory “Medicare for All “while pushing to eliminate private insurers . If in fact Americans prefer Medicare For All we will figure that out and that in turn will force private insurers to be only more competitive with premiums and benefits . Seems like a win - win to me . I must ask Warren and Sanders regarding Medicare option or mandatory Medicare for All , “ why throw the baby out with the bathwater”? Sure , hard core Democrats might want all of her policies but I do not think that the plurality of Americans will accept that , especially in the much needed swing states . That’s just my take , but of course no one really knows what will or won’t happen in politics .

  80. @KarenE Private insurers are destroying the US, the evidence is there for all to see and the root of the problem. Insurance must be eliminated and it's perverse hold on medical rates abolished entirely.

  81. I would like to see an honest poll on how working people really feel about their private insurance. The people that I talk to complain about constantly rising premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

  82. @KarenE Here's what you're missing: Medicare is expensive. That's why we can't continue to have the middle/upper middle class give vast sums to their insurance companies (through their jobs). To make it truly available to anyone who needs it, we have to tax everyone. A partial solution won't work.

  83. It seems from this essay that we are still in the middle of a political transition. The strategy of the Republicans is not clear to me. I suppose massive increase in GDP, which flows to the top; ignores the middle, but which makes the country strong, despite unequal, would be a generous assessment, likely wrong. Trump is tragically (for us) ignorant and probably has clinical OCD, and likely Old Brain, Dunning-Kruger effect, and maybe early dementia and I suspect some Asperger's syndrome. He had been a useful too for the dying Republican party to extend rule that is pro-wealth, but he has become dangerous as a decision maker. The Democrats should embrace that "The left exists to oppose arbitrary hierarchy and champion those who are oppressed and exploited by the status quo social order". With Dem hegemony a return to cooperation with the power of wealth will be needed to keep them from cheating democracy again. The R's have become a wounded animal and have given up honor for survival. After the transition, we will need their return to health and honor as partners in our great experiment.

  84. There are a lot of comments here, so maybe it was discussed, but I don't see it. Missing from Edsall's cogent analysis of HOW democrats can outpoll republicans is any discussion of election meddling by Russia (frighteningly discussed in yesterday's Times), to say nothing of election fraud, primarily perpetuated by the current republican party. A democratic presidential candidate will need to significantly outpoll Trump to win, and to convince much of Trump's base that they won fairly.

  85. @AACNY What steps to reduce foreign interference are you referring to? What strong measures against Russia? I don’t see much backpedaling either.

  86. The ongoing public perception that "Political Correctness" is a policiy of the Left (and Democrats) is something that needs to be addressed. The GOP stands as deeply in that stream as the Democrats- the GOP gets every bit as easily offended and publicly enraged when it's constituency senses an attack- overt or implied: saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" being example one. Claiming themselves to be under constant attack. To the best of my knowledge (and off the top of my head), in recent time, the GOP has tried to push legislation at the local, state and national level to limit free speech (the ultimate form of political correctness) by trying to ban political protests, criminalize Antifa and criminalize groups that may not want to trade with Israel. The Democrats need to push back against the succesful labelling that they are the party of the Politically Correct.

  87. @M The free speech suppression comes only from the left. Look at the "speech codes" on any college campus. Cities enforcing speech codes based on gender, not deeds (NYC). Then groups of the left who employ violence to suppress speech. Democrats believe in free speech, but only theirs.

  88. We’ve already over-reached. And we’re completely unprepared for a Pence candidacy, so be careful what you wish for.

  89. Mr. Edsall argues that the greatest danger to Democrats is “progressive overreach”, and that Democrats need to address “the rise in inequality, inadequate education and health care, stagnant wages, and declining communities”. The trouble is: policies that address the rise in inequality, etc. are precisely the economic policies that are championed by progressives (most notably by Elizabeth Warren) and opposed by moderates. I agree with Mr. Edsall that “political correctness” is a problem for progressives, and that progressives need to focus on issues (such as taxing the wealthy and access to healthcare) that are popular with swing voters. But these ARE progressive policies.

  90. "How Can Democrats Keep Themselves From Overreaching?" The real question is "How can we keep Trump from overreaching, which he does all the time with impunity."

  91. The problem with Republican is self-proclaimed justice, and that of Democrats is self-indulged sympathy. The missing components to harmonize this Nation's hatred and self-righteousness are Fairness and Gratitude. Trump won elections because he voiced certain legitimate concerns avoided by politicians such as border security. Don't you lock the door when you leave the house.

  92. They have already overreached using Trump's guidelines. Subpoenas?! He is above the law since only he has "great and umatched wisdom". Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, says the Great and Powerful Oz! I agree there is a pragmatic nature in making sure each and every step taken in the process is done faithfully by law. Trump is trying to provoke mistakes. Why he is so angry is beyond me, however. Republicans are won't do the right thing. They are the do-nothing party in so many ways.

  93. Is it an overreach for Democrats to restore the principles of the New Deal? Is it a betrayal for Republicans to abandon the principles of Constitutional law and install a plutocracy?

  94. Even after all Donald Trump’s shenanigans my Republican friends (yes I have some) are eager to keep him around. So good luck, fellow Dems. Bothersome? A totally Republican Supreme Court. That’s not supreme at all. Remember - no term limits.

  95. All things move in cycles. But sometimes the cycles are entirely reformed by new technologies. The real trend is the terribly destabilizing impact of still-in-it’s-infancy information and communication revolution. These technological innovations are enabling fundamental changes in everything. The parties themselves will not be the same. The author’s piece is trying to posit how a 1900 institution will change a little bit in 2020. IMO, kind of missing the point.

  96. "Democrats must first win the White House and the Congress and then begin to address the deep-seated problems that have been neglected for far too long." The problem is that almost any attempt to address deep seated problems equals overreach. met head on by defenders of the status quo in both the Democratic Party and the GOP. And, most ominously, the GOP continues to stand behind a man who sits in the White House who has demonstrated time and again that he has no compunctions about destroying our Constitutional form of government to defend the privileges of the super-wealthy, and stooping to race-baiting and nativism to accomplish that aim.

  97. It's great to see that Mr. Edsall sees that a blue wave victory on November 3, 2020 is so likely that he is warning Democrats not to overreach after a sweeping victory.

  98. One of the problems I’ve observed in Edsall’s analysis for some time now is a failure to define “left,” “right,” “liberal,” and “conservative.” What does it mean to “drag the country” in one direction or the other? The truth is that if you look at public opinion surveys on economic and cultural issues, the gap is on the culture side, not the economic side. Most people do not favor a smaller government, fewer government services, tax breaks for the rich, or, frankly any of the small government policies championed by Ronald Reagan and the presidents—both Democratic and Republican—who followed him. This is also true of Trump voters. The one good thing about the Trump administration is that it has shown us clearly how corrupt the government has become and for the drastic need to drain the swamp. The real battle has been revealed not as a struggle between cultural conservatives and liberals, but between the people who can access the government in order to enhance their abilities to extract rents from the rest of us and those who can’t. While the Twitterverse may grind its teeth at a candidate’s stand on Medicare for All, a candidate like Elizabeth Warren who has devoted her life to middle class economics and strikes fear into the hearts of plutocrats will resonate with the electorate in 2020. And that will change our politics for a good long time.

  99. @Martin Kobren Boy, do I hope so.

  100. As usual, TE bloviates to state much that is obvious. Democrats have the ability to get complacent, and to alienate the passionate Progressives and Leftists, who then sit home or issue "protest" votes for the Green Party or something else. I don't usually agree with Paul Begala as he's one of the "Let's not get Republicans mad at us" moderate wet-blankets who kills passion, but he's right about one thing: Democrats MUST point out how Trump's policies are directly hurting "real working people" (as if people who work at desks, or carry union cards aren't real workers). Just yesterday, Trump's Labor Dept. proposed a plan that will cut waiters' and waitresses' income by forcing them to spend more hours doing sub-minimum wage work for which they do NOT get tips! As a hotelier, Trump will personally benefit from robbing these "real working folks" who barely subsist waiting tables of even more of the little they earn. Democrats keep relying on the pipe dream of demographic shift to win elections without recognizing how the GOP has cultivated White resentment since Goldwater in 1964 (I was 9) but has not responded by creating ANYTHING to inspire passion since the Vietnam War ended. 2008 was a rarity, but not a shift. 2018 was the first time Dems REALLY rallied out of rage, passion, and indignation, much to the leaders' surprise, chagrin, and attempts to stifle and control it. If they succeed, Trump WILL win again. And I am terrified that will happen.

  101. Increasing the level of mercury in the water, increasing particulate matter in the air, increasing the cost of health care for people with preexisting conditions, increasing the rate of anthropogenic climate change, increasing the number and range of North Korea's nuclear weapons...these and so many other overreaches are the problem. While the author sites many interesting historical facts and takes a long view of what may follow these days of derangement the most important thing to do is to crush all Republicans in 2020 in increase the amount of sanity involved in running the most powerful nation in the world. If that is overreaching so be it.

  102. Both parties always overreach. It is endemic in a two-party system that necessarily relies on building coalitions to adjust to emerging ideas and solutions. The rise of the Sanders/Warren "movements" signals overreach at the outset. As a consequence, the Democrats may blow an easy "gimme" election in 2020 because they cannot help themselves.

  103. "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,... " -JFK Such an overreach. We should have simply have chosen to go about 20,000 miles, and turned around.

  104. @ExPDXer That JFK quote was from the country that created the greatest manufacturing system the world has ever seen and won WWII. The voice we have now is from the country that sent its manufacturing base to China and that has lost in Afghanistan but continues to stay there--for nearly 20 years now. How far we have fallen, how fast.

  105. @ExPDXer I hear you, but to be truthful, he didn't say that during his campaign for the presidency, but well after having won it.

  106. The wide awoke might foretell the direction of cultural change but this is not a great time to stray from the basic tenets of equal rights for all that our system of government and our sense of fairness are based on. Social justice warriors take no prisoners and have elevated self righteousness above kindness and equal rights for ALL. It’s our rights that matter, not the color or age of our skin.

  107. As Mr. Edsall's analysis points out, a swing to one end of the political spectrum is always followed by a move in the other direction. This is true in all Western democracies, proving that the majority of their citizens prefer to be close to the center and away from the fringes where lurk policies that may seriously impact their lifestyle.

  108. Democrats struggle with getting their message out clearly and concisely. Many Americans watch one news station only. So their ideas and opinions get lost or drowned out by partisanship entertainers. Republicans embraced those entertainers to deliver their messages knowing those entertainers have no ethical duty to report truthful facts. After all, entertainers are kept in business by viewers, and the more sensational or outspoken the entertainer, the more popular they become to viewers. In short, many Americans have become complacent and lazy to the erosion of truthfulness and facts based upon their political party preferences. Those who control the messaging, generally control the masses. Which is exactly what Trump tries to control daily. If Democrats are to compete, they'll have to use similar methods.

  109. The tension, in the end, is between the large number of not very rich people who, in general, are fairly liberal on economic issues, fearing cuts to Social Security, supporting minimum wage raises and higher taxes on the wealthy, in favor of expanding government influence on workplace protections, and the like, but who are fairly conservative on the guns/God/gay axis, and the smaller number of oligarchic influencers who may be relatively moderate on social issues but very conservatively selfish on economic ones. There are those who are very liberal on both economic and social issues, but they are smaller in number and overwhelmingly concentrated in affluent coastal metro areas. The problem comes when the the social issues, which are much more emotive, and less abstract, drive voting behavior--with a good old-fashioned propaganda boost, of course (which has been made easier than ever in a social media era). That's when the traditional economic coalition that drives Democrats to victory fractures, and Republicans fear-mongering sweeps them into office. Democrats therefore start with a disadvantage in messaging; it's easier to appeal to fear and loss than wonky technical aspects of inequality reduction. Dems would do well to examine how Roosevelt and Truman communicated to the voting public--and should take the risk of villifying even the oligarchs who help fund some of them (as Elizabeth Warren is doing)--the loss in election money can be made up in emotion.

  110. @Glenn Ribotsky Will the Democrats accept this?

  111. One point made that is not in dispute: higher education correlates with more progressive views. Two hundred fifty years ago only a small number of privileged, wealthy men were highly educated. Most were lucky if they could read and write. From the number of highly educated, a progressive group became our founding fathers. As time passed, our nation made education a public priority. By 1900, most Americans had some grade school education. By the mid 1900's most Americans had some high school education. States, with federal assistance, made grades 1 through 12 available (mostly mandatory) for all. Today, a college education is needed for any living-wage job. College should be available to all, just as high school is. The Republican Party is more threatened by education than any other single factor. Educated people are less susceptible to cultural, ethnic, religious and racist appeals. Education leads to progressive ideas, the death of the GOP. RIP!

  112. @JABarry Yes, but this is only because Education has undergone institution-capture by the Left. If there is ever serious conservative governance in this country, there will be a requirement that faculty are ideologically balanced, at least in the state-sponsored colleges and universities.

  113. @JABarry : "Today a college education is needed for any living wage job." Tell that to my plumber, electrician and auto mechanic. Or, better still, take a trip to Germany. College is fine for many, but technical training is better for others. Expecting everyone to complete college is unnecessary and drives up costs for those who truly DO require a college degree to pursue their career goals.

  114. @JABarry As someone with a meager bachelors degree. I agree that it is increasingly the minimum threshold for a living wage besides trades professions. It has unfortunately led to the disenfranchisement of millions of hard working Americans who have had their jobs outsourced by short sided profit driven ideologies. I'm currently still paying back student debt which has delayed my ability to raise a family. Progressive ideology would have me celebrate and subsidize uneducated immigrants (legal and illegal) and their family's while my job and wages are continually being jeopardized and suppressed by highly educated foreigner born engineers and IT professionals on H1-B visas. Progressive politicians need to focus on policies that protect Americans. While I would agree that higher education is a noble and gratifying undertaking that leads one to a greater open mindedness. It must align with policies that protect and reward hard working American citizens of all education levels. Progressive policies on immigration undermine the premise that higher education and fiscal responsibility will be rewarded and lead to a financially secure future. The free-rider problem is the main reason the GOP, as corrupt as it is, will never die. The government's most important role must be to prevent monopolies, which put too much financial and political power into the hands of too few. It has utterly failed to do so now that politician can be purchased by these very corporations.

  115. I'm not sure why the people in the declining parts of America have absolved the Republicans of any blame, but it is clear the people out there believe those of us on the thriving coasts are improving our own situations by selling them down the river, and they mostly blame the Democrats, who fuel their anger with tone deaf statements that, "Those jobs aren't coming back," and with policies designed to transfer income to specific grievance groups while ignoring the majority of voters. Trump, virtually alone, claims (dishonestly) that he will help that struggling majority. As ridiculous a parody of an honest magistrate as he is, he will continue to have many of those peoples' votes as long as he is the only one acknowledging their needs. Progressive, centrist, or even Dada-ist, whatever the Democrats campaign on, they have to make the case that it will improve the lives of ALL the people.

  116. @Green Tea Yes they do, but many will still vote for Trump for extra-rational reasons, influenced by racism, xenophobia, sexism and sectarianism, unfortunately - not because of false claims of being concerned about their economic interests.

  117. @Green Tea When Bruce Springsteen wrote and sung about "those jobs are going, boys, and they aren't coming back" ("My Home Town") there was a sense of tragedy and pathos. When Hillary Clinton and others said the same thing, or variations of it, there was no empathy whatsoever. That's why Trump won.

  118. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won four terms by addressing inequality and helping the disadvantaged gain a foothold in the national economy. Progressive policies work. For my raised-poor mother, raised in the depression, FDR was close to God. The Democrats have failed because they respond to the wishes of their well heeled donors and forget the people they profess to care about.

  119. Ryan Enos, the Harvard professor quoted in the piece, probably needs to get far away from Cambridge for a while. His left-moving "median voter" is a non-existent, meaningless abstraction. There are, and will be for several more decades, far too many living, breathing, actual voters and citizens who will not see things the "progressive" way for the changes progressives want to be viable over the long-term if enacted at all. Instead, if Democrats are smart enough to realize that some national unity and consensus is the only firm ground on which to stand, they will ask and carefully answer the very questions posed by Eric Levitz about majoritarian sentiment.

  120. A very thoughtful and thorough article. We cannot now know if the GOP is in a death spiral, or just a bit down. The right wing never entirely goes away since it will always be the bastion of wealth and power. Going back to the origin of "right" and "left" from the time of the French Revolution, when the "right" supported monarchy, improvement for common people will always be determinedly opposed by the right wingers. The only unknown is how soon and in what proportion the American citizenly will awaken to realities.

  121. Most of the American electorate just wants to return to the past. The debate is really about what part of the past they want to return to. A lot of well-off suburbanites would be happy to go back to the 1990s or early 2000s. Working class Whites prefer the 1940s and 1950s. Working class African-Americans don't want to go backward maybe, but given the choice between what they see as most likely—return to the 40s and 50s or return to the 90s and 00s—they'll pick the latter. A modest fraction of the electorate actually wants to move forward. These are the people who like Warren or AOC and who understand correctly that our current economic and environmental problems are caused by the economic system that emerged in past decades and certainly won't be solved by trying to return to those past eras. In fact, the attempt to return to the past will only make the problems of the present worse. Looking backwards reflects a vain and futile hope to find safety and stability in a world that demands uncomfortable and radical change. The dilemma for the Democrats is the majority of the population wants "MAGA"—either Trump's version or Biden's version. That's what they feel most comfortable with and are likely to vote for. But if MAGA prevails, our problems will continue to be unsolved and dissatisfaction will grow. We need to get comfortable with progressive change. But that's probably not possible in America. We are just not a bold people anymore.

  122. Best way for Democrats to lose the 2020 election -- a Medicare For All instead of a Medicare For All Who Want It. The House has passed some superb bills. But I bet 95% of the public don't know about those bills. For the life of me, I don't know why Pelosi et al don't get on TV and social media and talk about those bills and the fact that McConnell and the Republicans won't bring them up for a vote. Why didn't Obama do more for the hurting middle class? Some of the failure was due to his natural reticence to stick his neck too far out. But most was due to Republican obstruction. The Rs knew that Obama would be blamed for not doing enough, not them. That, too, was a failure of communication. You and I know that Republicans are interested ONLY in giving tax breaks for their wealthy campaign contributors and getting rid of anti-pollution regulations. The voting public doesn't know that. A great slogan for the Democrats next year is "you did NOTHING"

  123. Thank you Mr. Edsall for the insights. To Levitz's point: There is overwhelming evidence that Americans recoil from 'free' in proclamation, even as we are ready to kill our favorite scapegoats to ensure we get everything for free and they don't. Take rural America and red states - largely dependent on federal entitlements - but want to burn the place down. There is some conviction there; they are ready to keep their children without health insurance and breathe dioxin just because it makes you miserable. Despite this evidence, the crack-pottery on the left is loud proclamations of 'free this and that' - ensuring an electoral defeat. Democrats are also rather disconnected with the asymmetry. Plainly, they are the Sisyphus (rolling the boulder uphill to have it inevitably roll down), republicans are the default option of an erstwhile white christian nation - they get to roll down massive boulders on the masses and watch in glee as pillars of freedom and democracy (for others) are destroyed. E.g.: Obama is blamed for neglecting rural poor. Nothing good he did gets a mention, and republicans win on the sole promise that they will obliterate his name from history and undo every good he did. Trump is heralded for every act of corruption; even for ensuring soy beans are rotting in silos. But there is no one running among democrats who gets the asymmetry and speaks moderation while intending to do radical good. Their default is 'free.' Ergo, they will lose.

  124. @Kalidan 'Free'....what is 'free'? In early to mid-century America (from FDR to Reagan) we called it INVESTMENT in Americans, which it was. The blighted right took the words, investment and govt. and butchered them, transforming them into cynical, twisted right-wing memes: investment = 'free-stuff'; govt. is bad. Simplistic, dangerous nonsense.

  125. Although the composition of the new electorate favors progressives, the stream of messaging filling the airwaves and social media is more effectively controlled by conservatives. The facts, the statistics, the profiles about the electorate matter less than how political messages are packaged and delivered, however false those messages or slick the delivery. If history is our guide, progressives would be favored by the changing electorate, but conservatives would hold the advantage because of their talent for distorting the truth and aiming for the emotional buttons that animate voters. According to this theory, a slight edge for preserving political power goes to the conservatives.

  126. @William, do you propose the Democrats should become more like Republicans and try to match the lying and cheating? They could never become as good at it as the Republicans, with so late a start.

  127. If universal health care, lower university costs and a decent social safety net is "overreaching" then I'm all for it. Beats the heck out of a GOP that wants to kill the ACA and make health care even more profitable for insurance companies; underfunds K-12 education and allows expensive diploma mills to fleece university students for unemployable degrees; cuts unemployment benefits, food stamps, school lunches and other programs that help the poor and gives us the worst government corporate money can buy.

  128. @Christy Do not underestimate the scope of the change the implementation of these three social reforms would require. Changes in taxation, in the delivery and administration of health care services, in the administration of higher education. And what about the "legacy" issues. When post secondary education becomes "affordable", what do you do for the recent graduate laboring to repay the $150,000 he/she borrowed to attend university? And when universal healthcare arrives , what do you do for the victim of a medical crisis laboring to repay massive health costs incurred before everything was free? Nothing? Too bad, you came along too soon. Whether this would be over-reaching is for each voter to decide, but there is no doubt it would be a massive change.

  129. @gbc1, A massive change yes, many countries have managed it. America used to be a world leader in almost every way, since Reagan we have become the world leader in billionaires and defense spending, not much else.

  130. @Christy I am still angry at democrats for destroying my healthcare. Had an operation last year and after shelling out 17 grand the insurance covered nothing of the operation and I was on the hook for the 3,500 grand..dems pretending they helped people like me and thinking the world hates republicans like they do is the biggest conceit ever and why the left has never understood the right.

  131. The democrats actually had real power to get things done for all of two years, 2009-2010, before the Republicans took back control of Congress. The major accomplishments: 1. Save the financial system - mostly bailed out banks and left the population with little 2. The ACA. Did provide coverage for a lot of folks but did nothing about costs. insurance companies and big hospital systems helped write the legislation and it shows. 3. A lot of financial and environmental regulations, none of which have real grassroots support and nearly all have been rolled back. Instead they could have passed minimum wage increase, pharma price controls, gun control, increased support for public higher education - targeting improving quality of life for the middle and working classes. Had they done that we might be having a very different discussion today. Maybe instead of "don't overreach" the message should be "don't be dumb" and "don't sell out."

  132. @Concerned Citizen Um...because we are not other countries.

  133. This.

  134. Media and political pundits continue to get this wrong by describing common sense policy positions the vast majority of Americans support as 'far left' or radically progressive. Stop it.

  135. The Republicans will win the 2020 election by condemning Democrats as socialists. I just heard my first radio commercial from the drug/conservative complex calling Nancy Pelosi and her plans to lower drug prices as socialist policy, thereby undermining America’s business’ ability to keep America’s drug industry a leader in the world. The Democrats call for Medicare for all and taking away business provided insurance will scare voters along with free college, etc. Wall Street is beginning to spread fear of Elizabeth Warren and her tax proposals. The Democrats will be like deer in the headlights, and be unable to present a clear and calming explanation of their policy agenda and thus loose the election. Groundhog Day all over again.

  136. The problem is, like it or not, things are pretty good right now and people are doing well. And while socialism plays well in Europe, Americans are deeply resentful of free stuff on the principal that one should work for it.

  137. @M Ah... we're doing pretty well? Speak for yourself, M. My family has around $400,000 dollars worth of student loan debt, which we had hoped to pay down with the public service student debt forgiveness program (which is vastly underfunded and in disarray). Socialism plays well in Europe because it works. This is why people there are happier than Americans and have a higher standard of living, lower infant mortality, and longer life expectancy.

  138. @M Americans are mired in debt of ALL sorts: medical, student loan, housing costs, etc. Things are very good for the 1%---never been better, but the middle class and the poor are struggling. Sadly, those who are doing well tend to be so insular, they rarely see or understand the financial challenges facing a large swath of the citizenry.

  139. @Sage Every generation has had debt. They went to work and paid it off, without complaint. People today want a free ride right out of college.

  140. Economic liberalism or neoliberalism, more fully described as laissez-faire corporate consumer capitalism, was initiated in the Reagan/Thatcher era and took hold so resolutely to the political narrative that Democrats from Clinton to Obama have dared not deviate from its sway. The recent schism between the pragmatist neoliberal and social democratic wings of the party has managed to create in the public mind the idea that Democrats are responsible for both economic and social liberalism, so that they are now blamed for both, when the policies in pursuit of the former rests squarely on the heavily overrated Reagan presidency. I think it inevitable now that the Democratic party will move to the left into what used to be common ground before the Republican absolutists took over. In so doing it needs to shed the stain of economic liberalism, and the first step in that process is to stop using the term thereby providing exploitable opportunities to shift the blame for where we are to the Democrats. Democrats need to start calling the problem for what is it is, and putting the blame where it rightly belongs: Ronald Reagan.

  141. I wish I were worried about overreach. Republicans have spent the last fifty years rigging the system in their favor so that they can hold onto power with a minority of voters. They realized long ago that they cannot win a fair fight. When the Democrats are in power the Republican Party blocks any initiative that would benefit the group of supposedly forgotten voters they so vapidly claim to care about. Then they blame the Democrats for being elitist. One exception that proves this rule is the ACA. With all its flaws, even the Republicans cannot convince voters that they would be better off without health care. Our electoral system is broken, voters are not fairly represented. It is more likely that the pendulum swing of independent voters represents their desperation and hope that the grass will be greener on the other side, but it never will be because right now there is really only one side, the Republican side, all the Democrats can do is block their punches. When they are in power, the Democrats can barely land a blow.

  142. The genius of the American political system is the frequent alternation of Democrats and Republicans in the presidency and in the Congress. The longest presidential exception was of course FDR, and that resulted in the constitutional amendment limiting presidents to two terms. So, I am not all hung up on which party wins a particular election, even if I prefer the Democrats as a rule. Alternation is a good thing. What is not good is Trump. And, I'd quickly add those Republicans over the past couple of decades who have been single-mindedly dedicated to tilting elections in their favor, even by condoning foreign interference as perpetrated currently by Trump. So, for 2020, may the best party win, and do so fairly and transparently. The interim event concerning Trump's possible impeachment, and possible conviction or acquittal, is a separate matter and should be allowed to unfold and reach a conclusion by itself.

  143. Quality health care should be available to all. Our gun policy should be driven by the interests of the inner cities, where the vast majority of gun murders take place. The abortion debate is a clash of irreconcilable ideologies. The debate is a morass. Keep your eye on the prize: access, both to services and the abortion pill. Poverty and crime are far and away problems of race. And attitudes of both Democrats and Republicans are to blame. You solve the race problem by embracing minorities, not by attacking your political rivals. The US is both a self-interested nation and a citizen of the world. Our immigration policy must serve both interests. The question is not whether the door is open or closed. It is how open it should be. And the single thing that we do that most promotes our quality of life is to pay our income taxes. The system is far from perfect. But your taxes are what makes this country run. April 15 is the real Independence Day. Pay up and don’t begrudge your opportunity to make America great. Think logically and vote for a candidate who does the same. Leadership is much more about the ability to react to the unexpected than it is about a preconceived agenda.

  144. This sounds like another attempt to get the Democrats 'in line' behind Establishment or "Blue Dog" Dems, but that won't work, as we saw in 2016. A Democratic base, excited about new and innovative ideas to move this country 'out of the ditch' we're in and start moving toward the future, is what will win the election in 2020. Don't allow the fear and incrementalism of political pundits to drive the party into the ground.

  145. @kladinvt BINGO! Corporate media will continue to feature these articles with big warnings about the 'overreach of the Dems'. Nonsense!

  146. @kladinvt Kamala and Hillary or Hillary and Kamala

  147. This feel good piece for liberals does not seem to countenance that Democrats may not win the Senate, Loose the House and Presidency, and loose the Courts for a generation or more. The article does not mention the word immigration. The article assumes the US will continue to have honest elections. It is an article written for people that are not prepared for apocalyptic loses in 2020.

  148. Democrats. Pay attention to what Begala says: warn voters of Trump's real agenda to get rid of social security and Medicare. As another pundit put it, don't get ahead on your skis. The future will be different and the GOP is not the party who is interested or invested in the future but rather to hold on to a glorified past similar to the South, Putin, and others who cannot accept the present, much less the future.

  149. Thanks Mr. Edsall, At this moment of rage, my personal rage toward our current president’s outlandish ill-conceived actions, I appreciate your continued, reasoned, researched contribution to my morning dose of opinion. Its hard to see beyond the huge flailing emergency in the White House. Its hard not to be enraged by false equivalencies, etc. And yet you are looking beyond it, tangentially. That’s needed, by me. Thanks.

  150. It seems to me that Democrats have not forgotten how to fight with each other, but they have forgotten how to fight with Republicans. As Paul Begala pointed out "Trump has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. I did not hear one candidate raise that in the last Democratic debate," Time for them to start fighting Republicans.

  151. "If Democrats are lucky enough to sweep the elections in 2020, they will face an enormous challenge: maintaining internal cohesion while retaining sustained public support." I confess I read this piece with a highly cynical mind, as it focuses too much on what Democrats should be doing for the future, instead of the raging fires they face today. Our government seems to be burning down, in the middle of a constitutional crisis, and pundits are acting like the next election and how potential winners can address the issues of the Trump voter. What about today? How are Democrats going to stop this lawless president? Mr. Edsall asks if Democrats are overreaching? My God, the only one overreaching today is Donald J. Trump. If we stay on this course, we might not even have 2020 elections. While Donald Trump calls the impeachment inquiry a "coup," the real coup is unfolding every day in the White House, and nobody is stopping his massive abuses of power.

  152. @ChristineMcM. Every vote is against something and for something. Opposition to Trump is a given. But if it’s all you got, you lack vision.

  153. It's not left, it's not right, it's forward. We need someone who is looking for thoughtful, evidence based solutions to America's problems rather than ideological ones. That's why I am voting for Andrew Yang.

  154. I completely understand what you are saying and as always, appreciate your editorial. However, I find the handwringing about Democratic "overreach" absurd. Trump and the GOP have literally put children in cages and demonized refugees, happily gutted environmental laws, and aim to restrict the rights of women and other minorities. Yet we democrats are always supposed to be scared of "overreaching." Frankly, I hope the democrats shoot for the moon because once the majority instead of the extreme minority benefit, even the most obtuse may see it's in their selfish interests to vote democratic.

  155. They forget the staggeringly corrosive power of rightwing media led by Fox whose “stars” spew lies, disinformation & racism as if it were God’s own truth. And lead many of the neediest to vote against their own economic self interests.

  156. Remember when the republicans gleefully impeached Bill Clinton when they didn't have control of congress? They didn't care what anyone thought. What Trump is doing is much worse and the House democrats who are trying to do the right thing are always looking weak. I would show strength and if you can't then hire your own Kenneth Starr/Bill Barr to get the job done, as these guys smell weakness a mile away. The corruption in the republican party goes back to the Regan era, they are entrenched and know how to manipulate the system, asking nicely won't work.

  157. There is no "overreaching" in removing Trump from office.

  158. The US, like Western & Eastern Europe haven’t recovered from the 2008 Great Looting. Working families are barely making it, thus the emergence of nationalism across the board, Trump included None of the well crafted quotes in this piece capture the rebellion simmering in the country: its Wall Street’s criminal activity, stupid. In fact, the FED’s Chair Powell, as we speak, is pumping billions daily to prevent another market collapse. Both parties, due to dirty money’s hold, haven’t done much to fix this problem. Mnuchin is at Treasury. Indeed, both still collect “donations” from this bunch - Biden held ten big fund raisers last week and met with his 100 top donors. Losing their homes vs. multiculturalism: 2020 is the year of empowering workers- all workers. The notion that “younger, millennial, more secular, and unmarried, with fewer traditional families and male breadwinners, more immigrant and foreign born,” are the only great big hope and motivation for change , or that “multiculturalism” is a key major driver changing the country’s political fabric are false positives. American families want to be able to support themselves and their families. To ignore this simple and key point, misses the point. American working families have to get out of an corrupt feudal, abusive relationship fast!

  159. Democrats need to sweep themselves to power first in the House, the Senate and the Presidency with an enthusiastic, energetic candidate and VP. Warren-Buttigieg, two of most intelligent, least corrupt characters on the horizon, will have no trouble mopping the radical Reverse Robin Hood floor of Trump-Pence and the Grand Oligarch Party in 2020. Both of those two candidates actually 'tell it like it is' without getting lost in political correctness because they physically and spiritually embody inclusivity - a strong, intelligent fighting female and a wise, young military veteran who happens to be gay. Warren and Buttigieg have bread and butter issues on their side, including healthcare reform, campaign finance reform, voting rights reform, 0.1% welfare reform and draining the immoral Trumpian-GOP Swamp of malfeasance. Combine that with an emphasis and Democratic campaign and Administration focused healthcare jobs, infrastructure jobs, renewable energy jobs, rural internet jobs, education jobs and preserving the safety net that Trump and his misanthropes love to shred, and the Warren-Butiggieg will cruise to administrative success while the radical right continues their conspiracy-and-commie based Grand Old Propaganda campaign that activates 40% of the nation's amygdalas. The Republicans will do their treasonous best to torpedo American progress by duping the masses with fear and loathing because that's what they do, but fewer Americans are eating their Grand Old Poison.

  160. @Socrates A Warren-Buttigeig ticket would be excellent.

  161. @A F My dream team come true!

  162. My biggest concern is that the fact-lite fear-mongering done by the right means that all fact-based analyses and messages from Democrats won't penetrate the right-wing bubble unless it's spun by right-wing fear-mongers to their own benefit. It's the pattern right now, after all, and it's been working for decades.

  163. I believe the theory and analysis are valuable and intriguing. But in the final analysis, aren't most people most interested in electing someone who "feels right," who seems most like themselves, who represents what they think is missing in the country, who counteracts the bad stuff the last guy stood for, who will clean up the swamp, etc., etc.? Progressive Democrat candidates -- I've been a Dem for decades -- are pinning a lot of hopes on programs that seem far-reaching to a lot of the heartland that hates Trump. I don't sense they are resonating in the gut like the Republicans do, who know the value of a tough body blow. The left-of-left Democrat "explorers" risk being at the edgy forefront -- leaving too many pioneers too far behind them. Trump is going to outlive the faint-hearted impeachment inquiry because he's a fascist-minded ego-machine with a Republican robot parade marching behind him. I fear that at this point, vile power is going to win over ethical progressivism.

  164. @SGK I agree, most voters, especially Republicans, vote by gut feeling. And in America's heartland, voting Democrat just doesn't feel right to many. Just the fact that liberals tend to live on the coasts and they don't is enough to make them feel queasy about voting Democrat. As a recent NYT article about a rural town in Arkansas pointed out, people there consistently vote against their own financial self-interest and there is nothing anyone can say that would change their minds. They don't even expect Trump or the Republican party to help them in any tangible way. Much less would they want to accept help from Democrats. Well, at least not until Republicans drastically slash Social Security and/or or Medicare. At that point, just maybe, the lights may come on for them.

  165. They can’t help themselves. Like the parable of the scorpion and the frog. It’s their nature.

  166. As a working class progressive female, I highly dislike having to tip toe around the working class voters and even the minority voters."The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook". It's high time that my other non-college educated compadres wise up and vote. Let the gop go around being fearful. A Dem vote should be nothing to fear for us. And yes, maybe the Democrats should not be too lofty in their goals, and do a little decluttering themselves or stop dumbing down voters. I always have this feeling that they are afraid of talking down to people---if you have an idea, explain it, expound on it, and put it in simple yet detailed terms. There is nothing worse for than leaving fissures open to fear.

  167. @duvcu Your "non-college educated compadres" voted in 2016 by the droves and elected Trump.

  168. "How Can Democrats Keep Themselves From Overreaching?" Overreaching? You do mean about the man whose greedy grasp is so large that he now has the world--the entire world-- in a choke-hold, right? Because if not, Mr. Edsall, you are a huge part of the problem of normalizing this president. The rising polls calling not just for impeachment, but for conviction and removal from office, suggest that you are lagging well behind the country which recognizes that this monstrously inept criminal can't be allowed to continue to do harm. The morning news breaks and he's breaking the Constitution. Pundits, lawyers, historical experts and journalists were laughing out loud at the absurd letter his "lawyers" sent asserting that impeachment isn't legal. Right. Except for the bit where the founders actually put it in, and it's been used several times. The day ends on the much more sobering note that Turkey --aided by Putin--is now primed to send troops into Syria. Meaning actual men, women and children are about to die because this country refused to act when there was overwhelming evidence that this deplorable man should have been removed from office months after taking it. Because DJT was transparent about his intent to use the highest office in the land as his personal cash register from day one. Our myriad crises all track back to breaking the Emoluments Clause, an impeachable offense for a reason. No such thing as "overreach" when gargantuan problems face a nation.

  169. If this election is about kitchen table issues: jobs & healthcare there's no way the Democrats lose. If it's about reparations, immigration, & wedding cakes there's no way we win. These are the only issues that would compel independent swing voters to vote for Trump again. What progressives & their co-dependents will never understand is that Anti-left” will always beat “anti-Trump” in most places in the U.S. but especially in swing states like Ohio & Florida. Our best chance is to run from the center. Trump wouldn't have capitalized on the salience of race & ethnicity if the Democrats hadn't exploited it. Exploited they have to the max from offering free health care to illegals to crowing about the new minority-majority which is itself a lie to ignoring working-class concerns. Mind you the working class has always been one of the cornerstones of the Democratic party why one would want to alienate them has to be the most idiotic political decisions of all time. This strategy has handcuffed the party. They are unable to react in real-time to issues that concern all Americans for fear of alienating their now identitarian base. The biggest question implied but not answered in this article is can Democratic Moderates & progressives co-exist in the same party. I would say absolutely not. The voters we need to win back the country have different values. There's no way to bridge the gap. If any of the far-left candidates are the nominees in 2020 we will lose decisively.

  170. I can summarize your lengthy piece in one sentence. Democrats except in extreme liberal districts should run on moderate progressive ideas that middle America are for. Examples: 1-Spirit of Roe not abortion on demand. 2-Reign in the excessive of Wall Street not socialism. 3-Selected non onerous tariffs on the worst of slaver labor countries not a total trade war. 4-Staying out of foreign conflicts unless America has been attacked. 5-Defending any group that is discriminated against not identity obsession or social engineering. and last but not least, a national, affordable, quality health plan not total socialistic medicine. If the democrats follow the above they have a great shot of winning all three branches if not they have a great shot of giving Trump another four yrs.

  171. I find so many of these future scenarios as troubling. They seem to imply that there is a future that resembles current norms. Due to the Republicans we are on a course toward catastrophic climate changes. I live in the south ,on the coast and my career has been outside. It is hotter here! The tides are already higher here! It makes so many of these calculations seem so futile. Trump and the no science GOP are corrupt .

  172. Oh come on, Tom. do you actually think that any of this will be an issue next year? The only issue is going to be whether our freedom lives or dies.

  173. It is a big mistake to view support for taxing the rich, which I favor, as a sign of America's ascendant liberalism (promises of which I have been hearing for more than fifty years). It is simply an example of Americans' unshakable belief that they deserve benefits and someone else should foot the bill. That belief is an article of faith on the left, right, and center.

  174. @Fred You say, " It is simply an example of Americans' unshakable belief that they deserve benefits and someone else should foot the bill." No, actually, the belief is that all Americans have a level playing field to work on, so they can have a chance to achieve the American Dream. The republicans have for decades tilted that playing field to their rich corporate donors. The rich should pay their share. How is it that people like Jared Kushner paid no income tax while I paid quite a bit more than none, but don't have the same bank balance as he does?!?

  175. @Fred, getting the rich to pay their fair share and stopping unnecessary corporate welfare is not getting someone else to "foot the bill" it is everyone working together for mutual benefit. We used to do that, and when we did, we made America great. Conservatives call that socialism with a sneer and want to "Make America Great Again", but like many conservative mottos they really mean the opposite. Patriot Act= becoming more authoritarian, Citizens United= corporations united, Pro-Life= pro gun, pro death penalty, pro destroying safety nets. The "unshakable belief" is that the rich and white deserve benefits and only the huge amount of tax collected from the '99%' can "foot the bill".

  176. Overreach isn’t the problem for Democrats, the concentration of power in the hands of a few is the danger for us all. Republicans decided to ignore cultural changes and double down on stealing elections through their natural advantages. They used their stranglehold on campaign money, the religious right, disgruntled white voters, and a reliable majority in the Supreme Court to cement their power. That power gave them the opportunity to dilute the advantage of any majority by using gerrymandering and voter suppression to reduce their opposition. Republicans understand democracy can be used in an autocratic fashion when used improperly.

  177. It the GOP and Trump win after all of this, then then country truly will have the government it deserves.

  178. "Overreaching" Such a nebulous, and subjective term. Is it synonymous with bold, principled action? Isn't under-reaching the reason we are here stuck in quagmire of disillusionment, and cynicism? I often hear 'overreaching' used as a pejorative term intended on stifling any move from the status quo. At this point in time, moving from this miserable status quo should be the our top priority. Or, is that overreaching?

  179. @ExPDXer We haven't been overreaching: we've been over-promising.

  180. This is fascinating analysis that every Democrat should read. Thank you.

  181. Government control of major economic enterprise is incompatible with democracy. That has been demonstrated time and time again.

  182. @Kent Kraus, uninhibited laissez-faire enterprise is incompatible with democracy. Prudent government regulation is essential to safeguarding democratic processes and institutions. Since the time when God gave Moses the commandments, we have known that a society that produces radical income inequality is incompatible with the rights, liberties, pursuit of opportunity, and power of governance of a free people.

  183. @Kent Kraus So is crony capitalism.

  184. "He argues that the inability of the Obama administration to ameliorate the devastating consequences of the 2008 economic meltdown in much of rural and small-town America contributed to the 2016 swing to Trump in working- and middle-class districts that had voted for Obama:" Too bad they didn't ask themselves who put them in that situation to begin with: The GOP, beginning with Reagan. This is why so many of the Founding fathers were concerned with allowing the poorly educated to have significant voting power. It's not "politically correct" to say this these days, but it's the truth.

  185. As Katalina in Austin recommends, read what Begala warns, not what Greenberg imagines. "New America"? Pundits gotta pundit, it doesn't mean their personal trademarked view reflects reality. I'm an independent - one of the center-left some Progressives hate worse than they hate the GOP, and spent last weekend at a family party, tucked in among a flock of Trump-loving loved ones, who are either Republicans or libertarian independents. We all agree, even the gun owners, on the basic changes to gun laws - close background check loopholes, add red-flag laws, etc. They see the value of expanded healthcare access. But they tag the entire Democratic Party as being too PC. And they feel that the Democrats are only interested in "giving things" to illegal immigrants and all the different ethnic/gender minorities. So I really hope the Dems don't hallucinate mandates that will leave the White House unchanged in 2020. And this article didn't mention that Progressives will accomplish zero without a change in the Senate - voters across the country aren't showing uniform desire for filling the Senate with progressives. So please, Dems, just win the White House, keep the House and see what you can accomplish in the Senate.

  186. Overreaching? "I'm not going to be Trump or do the awful things he has planned, but otherwise I'm not going to change anything" is not a compelling campaign narrative.

  187. @Pdxtran yeah, a democracy doesn’t matter. What nonsense. That’s really the question.

  188. @Pdxtran That's what kept Hillary out of the White House: no new ideas... her campaign was just stale beer.

  189. "Democrats must first win the White House and the Congress and then begin to address the deep-seated problems that have been neglected for far too long." If only it were that easy, not that winning the presidency and both houses is "easy". It will always be an uphill climb due to: 1) the electoral college 2) disproportionate Senate representation 3) court-supported gerrymandering 4) voter suppression 5) dubious voting machines, often provided courtesy of a big-time Mitch McConnell donor 6) FOX News and their AM radio allies And then there are the Russians.... Even if all these obstacles can be overcome, and the trifecta achieved, any dreams of advancing a progressive agenda will have to come to grips with the stranglehold the GOP has established on the judicial branch: not only the Supreme Court, but district courts around the country--an edge that could last for decades. And then there's GOP control of state houses, which has effectively outlawed abortion in a number of states. Last, not least, there's the "parallel government" which has been carefully assembled over the last 40 years. I refer not only to FOX, now the nation's most trusted advisor™, but the network of "think tanks" and non-profits funded by the Kochs and Adelsons. Who needs government? The Federalist Society makes our judicial appointments and ALEC handles the writing of legislation. These fronts, and their backers, exert enormous influence. The progressive side has no comparable infrastructure.

  190. Gosh, the Republicans have been "overreaching" for decades in undoing every aspect of progress in this country and no one ever seems concerned. It's only when Democrats want to change things for the better that we have to worry about overreaching. No, Oliver Twist, you can't have a second bowl of gruel. That would be overreaching and we can't have that, can we?

  191. @DHRiley The problem with your argument is that this country is generally speaking, still a largely conservative. Those who are falling behind are a resentful group who blame others for their predicament. The author points out on more than one occasion that people won’t vote for huge change until they see their basic needs met. Obamacare was the beginning but political correctness in these people’s minds, along with immigration seemed to sway them further to the right. Dream big, yes, take steps to protect the climate and create opportunities for those who struggle, whether they be students with crushing debt, wider community college availability, higher taxes on the the most wealthy, etc. Can they make these arguments? I predict that Warren will modify her “Medicare for All” promises at some point over the next year.

  192. The bigger problem for decades hasn't been Democratic over-reach but it's opposite: promising big, delivering small. Frequent scaling down of vision and effort in the face of predictable conservative push-back. Domestic examples include infrastructure (a big promise by Clinton in 1992, dropped like a hot potato at the first sign of congressional resistance), health care (dropped in 1993, watered down in 2008), and Main Street, in contrast to Wall St., recession relief (2008 onward). In each case successful Democrats have promised big, delivered small, and failed to lead public opinion or articulate persuasive rationales for failure beside Republican opposition. Edsall begins by noting widespread public opposition to political correctness, which reflects a prevalent political phenomenon: euphemism in lieu of performance. A mask for underreach that focuses on the feelings of some victims rather than on remedying their, indeed everyone's, underlying economic and social problems. The ultimate challenge for Democrats is to restore their credibility, realign their promises with performance, and focus more on unifying America, emphasizing that blights like inequality and plutocracy injure all but the richest. And then working harder to deliver on their promises.

  193. @Trashandsend Nowhere is "promising big, delivering small' more apparent than DeBlasio's NYC.

  194. "Will they raise taxes on the middle classes to pay the costs, say, of Medicare for all?" That's laughable. Democrats have spent at least the last ten years trying to convince us that all our woes are due to the filthy rich 1%, or 0.1%, or the 400 richest - and all we need to do to solve our problems is impose confiscatory taxes on those few. The idea of asking middle class, or even upper-middle class folks to help pay for ambitious government spending is out of the question. The Democratic Party's thinking, even about the confiscatory taxes on the ultra-rich may well change, once they realize that an awfully lot of those ultra-rich are their constituents. Remember when Barack Obama wanted to raise taxes on people with incomes over $250K? Then Nancy Pelosi took a look at how many of her constituents were in that group, and said maybe we should raise taxes on people making more than $1 million.

  195. @Gary R Of course tax increases on the rich and on corporations -- or in other words fair taxes -- are needed, and are not the entire solution to anything. We need pre-K for all, affordable day-care, good schools, Medicare for All, good regulations to protect the environment, good diplomacy instead of threatening war, etc. This is what Democrats are all about.

  196. @Gary R Last year, for the first time in our history, billionaires paid a lower income tax rate than working class Americans. Congratulations!

  197. @Gary R How about if we go back to the tax structure of one of the most prosperous times in US history, i.e. 80% top marginal tax rate? That was when we had a robust middle class. As we have lowered taxes on the rich, all we have done is widen income inequality until we have reached a new Gilded Age. That cannot last. Tax increases are preferable to guillotines.

  198. It's not that hard really. Secure borders with a point based immigration system like Canada. Medicare for all who want it/ public option. A somewhat more progressive tax system, higher on the richest, lower on the middle. No stupid wars but a strong military to back it up. Fight climate change in ways the grow the economy: Solar, wind, smart technologies, not that wreck it. As much as it pains me to Quote Reagan, "Find a 80% issue (probably 60% today) stand next to it and smile."

  199. @Bob In addition to the above, throw in more regulation of Wall Street, expansion of Social Security, reversal of Citizen's United, a new Voting RIghts Act to prevent voter suppression. Plenty of popular issues to choose from.

  200. @Bob That issue is immigration. And Trump is smiling.

  201. @Steve and Bob, Start with infrastructure projects that put people to work and money in their pockets then work on social issues like education, health care, SS, Medicare. Large employment projects will strengthen unions, households and communities.

  202. “The right goal” is simple: bring back empathy, decency and diplomacy. Everything that is missing right now.

  203. @Brunella Sounds nice, but won’t convince people having a desperate time paying their bills. That is the point of the article.

  204. @Cynthia Empathy, decency and diplomacy translate into policy too — which the GOP has done their best to steamroll.

  205. "The survey found that among all voters, 80 percent agreed that “political correctness is a problem in our country..." Political correctness used to be called civility or courtesy or the common good. Political correctness used to be respect for the rule of law, and the necessity of institutions to execute the rule of law (now called another epithet, the deep state). "Politically incorrect" gives license to legitimize hate and bigotry. Beyond that, if concepts like the right to vote, equality under the law, environmental protection, collective bargaining, public education, national defense and world stability based on cooperation among allies, and sensible immigration policy are part of some "doctrinaire elite" construct, then please count me an elitist.

  206. The old "political correctness" goblin - a term used by those who want to silence any push for equity by people who have been marginalized at best and demonized at worst. The poll cited in the article just indicates that Republican propaganda is powerful. What we need are powerful ways to counter it - because if we shape our identity in relation to every fake accusation and straw man argument they come up with we will have no identity. Democrats are the party of inclusion. The party of science. The party of facing our true history. The party of rule of law. The party of evidence-based reality. There are ideas being debated from centrist to progressive - that's how you come to consensus, by debating ideas and trying to convince each other of their merits. Republicans have opted out of the debate that is democracy in favor of team loyalty and propaganda. We will carry on without them.

  207. @Lynne If 'Democrats are the party of inclusion' then why is the largest voting bloc in the country Independents ?

  208. @Lynne Is Hunter a Democrat?

  209. Labels like "left" and "moderate" have no commonly accepted definition. Warren, for example, is portrayed as a leftist, yet she really fits my definition of moderate, in that she wants to reform capitalism, not replace it. Democrats own the issues. Trump is dependent on a toxic mix of racism, sexism, religious bigotry and homophobia. Not that that explains all his support, but if it were not for those, he and the Republicans would sink like a stone. And those issues are fear based. They appeal to people without hope. Offer them effective progressive government and while those issues won't disappear, they're a lot less likely to get people elected to high office. Offering hope (again) requires offering real solutions, not watered-down compromises. There are lots of Gordian knots that need cutting.

  210. @writeon1 I agree wholeheartedly. Senator Warren's basic philosophy is that government should work for natural persons, not for legal fictions called corporations and other business entities. That to me seems a most conservative approach to the letter and spirit of our founding document that starts with the words, "We the People."

  211. One specific change to a Democratic overreach: forgiving college loans. Don't forgive the loans, but reset the interest rates to zero or close to zero. With enough funding perhaps some past interest payments could be recharacterized as principle payments. Then people who took loans will be seen as paying back what they were given, but without being used as a profit source for the financial elites. And for the borrowers there will then be some light at the end of the debt treadmill tunnel.

  212. @Jim S. - The US Government, not the 'financial elites', gets the their interest payments. The government likes to receive money, that's why we have taxes!

  213. The closest elections tend to matter most. The election of 1876 brought an end to Reconstruction. The election of 1960 paved the way for ending segregation. And if Gore had won in 2000, we would be well on our way to reversing climate change. Every vote counts. Cast yours with great care.

  214. The Republican strategy is exploiting resentment. The resentment is partly "economic", but it's mostly cultural. Why would farmers continue to stand by the Regime while they are losing money on the trade wars? Why would voters who cannot afford health insurance vote for representatives who want to abolish Obamacare? And on and on. These people vote again and again against their own self interest because of bathrooms, political correctness, immigration, and a feeling that the "elites" are condescending to them about how to think about society and wealth. Hence the Democrats need to disarm this cultural resentment most of all but also while presenting a socio-economic platform that is seen as pragmatic. So far I don't see this happening.

  215. RD Chew -- I'm not as pessimistic that the Democrats' socio-economic platform may not be "pragmatic". On the contrary, the Democrats are already on the right track -- and Always Have Been -- by seeking socio-economic FAIRNESS for all Americans.

  216. Progressive Democrats might be surprised at how ordinary blacks and Hispanics think. They are mostly looking for decent jobs where they can earn a good living, and not having to pay too much in taxes. They are opposed to illegal immigration, which they see as providing wage-lowering competition. In short, their views are very similar to those of white blue-collar workers, many of whom voted for Trump. It is highly likely that many black and Hispanic blue-collar workers might consider voting for the GOP, particularly if someone like Elizabeth Warren were the Democratic nominee. A GOP president other than Trump would already have asked for their vote, and assured them that he had their interests in mind. The old GOP courted black businessmen and executives, but the policies of Trump are more suited to attracting blue-collar workers who depend on a regular paycheck.

  217. @Jonathan In what ways to Republicans deliver decent jobs where they (blacks and Hispanics) can earn a good living? What specific policies of Trump are more suited to attracting blue-collar workers who depend on a regular paycheck? After all, let's consider the hallmark achievements of the Trump administration: - tax cuts for the wealthy And I'm still thinking....

  218. @Kevin Brock - A recent article in The Atlantic discussed wage trends in the recent economy. While the wages of well-paid white-collar workers are relatively stagnant, the wages of blue-collar workers have gone up sharply in the last 3 years. This would indicate to me that removing the competition from illegal immigrants is having an impact on relative wages. Tax cuts for the wealthy? The elimination of the deduction for state and local income taxes has resulted in higher taxes for most taxpayers in the top 10% in income. These are the same people whose wages are stagnating, so it's not surprising if they're annoyed at Trump and the GOP.

  219. @Jonathan In 2018, for the first time in history, America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class. That is a fact.

  220. "as Hillary Clinton did so disastrously in 2016." For (of course, not) the last time, HRC, for all her flaws, won by 3M votes. Which underscores the flaws in analyses such as this one. Is it even helpful to talk about how candidates do in these or those districts? Pols have been picking their voters for so long that we might as we rename the country The Gerrymandered Districts of America.

  221. Why are people so outraged by Trump like he's different from any other U.S. President? With the exception of maybe FDR and Lincoln, I loathe every US president in history for being a vassal of monopoly capital, white supremacy, and patriarchy. (And I don't have any great affection for FDR or Lincoln, just some modicum of respect). Trump has yet to accomplish anything that rivals Obama's & Clinton's destruction of Libya, and while it is one of the smaller misdeeds on his record, Obama once stopped-and-frisked the presidential airplane of Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, in an attempt to find Edward Snowden. Nobody said anything. Can you imagine that happening if Trump did it?

  222. They've already overreached. When the candidates, all of which were alive in the cold war and have witnessed the repeated collapse and failure of socialist experiments around the world, want to crush the operation of free enterprise, that is overreaching.

  223. Democrats are running, again, on identity politics and raising taxes. That will not win them an election. Ignoring half of the populace is not a good strategy, nor is telling people you will take their money to give it to someone else. Most poor people don't vote, so...

  224. 'Things' are not going well anywhere If $5 wins, his dynasty begins "Rage, Rage against the dying of the light..."

  225. Why is it always on the Democrats to dial back? The republicans have, since Reagan, systematically gutted the middle class. The idea that Democrats might be "overreaching" to put policies in place to reverse that--jeez!

  226. We have the most corrupt and inept government in my history (75 years). Democrats don't need extreme liberal policy proposals to beat Trump. They should not make proposals that they can not achieve, like Medicare for all. Improved health care accessible to everyone, sure, but not Medicare for all. It is okay for Sanders to propose free college for all as a debate point, but the group of Trump supporters with a high school education will be repelled by such a proposal. Run against what Trump has done to destroy the country. That is a winning platform.

  227. Says Edsall: “There are, however, a number of flashing yellow lights Democrats may want to consider before proclaiming victory.” Before laughing over how huge an understatement this is, pause a moment to look at the opposition: a cabal of bilious billionaires who run the Senate, the GOP, half the Supreme Court, and 3O State Legislatures. Not to mention a huge echo chamber of “alternative” facts, conspiracy theories, and fundamentalist repression.

  228. Al Gore, VP in a wildly popular administration, managed to lose to a man clearly not smart enough to be president. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State in a very popular administration, managed to lose to a man who makes W in retrospect seem to be Doctor Einstein. I am pretty sure the Democrats will muck up 2020 and help Trump coast to re-election. God help America.