‘Those of us who practice politics know that sound does not always equal fury…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Rahm Emanuel recently called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez‘s top staffer a “snot-nosed punk,” but on Thursday he denied that the freshman Democrat’s socialist-tinged politics had transformed the political landscape.
Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and chief-of-staff for President Barack Obama, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post attempting to downplay and debunk the “myths” that an emergent radicalism was taking root—which he feared would cost Democrats the 2020 election.
“Not only has the party not lurched, but also the presumption that Democrats are undergoing some sort of ideological transformation may undermine our opportunity to defeat President Trump next year,” he wrote.
With the exception of former Vice President Joe Biden, nearly every leading Democrat in the field has endorsed or agreed to co-sponsor Ocasio–Cortez’s Green New Deal, estimated to cost some $93 trillion and substantially impact the lifestyles of all Americans, be it through taxes, dietary regulations or travel restrictions.
Biden and other self-declared “moderates” in the pack, like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have endorsed their own scaled-down versions of the plan.
At the second Democratic debate in June, all of the candidates on the stage controversially said they would include illegal immigrants in their health plans.
But according to Emanuel, those same voices have always been a part of the Left.
The clamor for radical progressivism was unlikely to survive in the general election, he said.
“[T]hose of us who practice politics know that sound does not always equal fury,” he wrote. “No one denies that the progressives have gotten louder and angrier over the past several years.”
Emanuel then conjured the specters of past policy failures from the Bill Clinton era onward that he said liberal Democrats still held grudges over.
“[M]any on the left feel as though their demands have been deferred, denied or never addressed—not by the two Republican presidents elected since then, but worse, not by the two Democrats, either,” he said.
Even so, he added, those voices did not constitute the majority within the Democratic base, where “[r]oughly half” described themselves as “moderate” or “conservative.”
Emanuel said winning over the swing states, where several centrist Democrats in traditionally conservative districts won in the 2018 election, was the key to success in next year’s race.
“Our nominee will need the voters in their districts to win a sufficient number of purple states,” he said.
Emanuel observed that during the pre-Clinton era, when far-left progressives dominated party politics, Democrats lost nearly every presidential race—save for Jimmy Carter‘s single term—in a span lasting more than two decades.
“History has proved there aren’t enough voters on the far left, on their own, to elect and reelect a president or maintain a majority in Congress,” he said.
He rejected the misconception that a Democratic candidate running against President Donald Trump needed to “mirror Trump’s abrasive political style” by acting as the president’s “liberal mini-me.”
Emanuel—who was forced out of running for a third term in Chicago due to his own unpopularity and failed policies—said that with the robust economy Trump’s approval rating should be much higher.
Rather than pin it on the shady polling practices and negative coverage pervasive in the mainstream media, he said those approval ratings reflected a public rejection of Trump’s confrontational approach.
“Americans do not like the poison pouring out of his mouth and Twitter feed,” Emanuel said. “Democrats shouldn’t lean into what Trump does poorly. We should offer a contrast—someone competent, balanced, thoughtful and capable of reaching across the aisle.”
Emanuel did not specify which Democratic candidate would fulfill those criteria. However, he closed with a generic appeal to all Democrats of every persuasion to come out in full force.
“Whatever disagreements we may have with one another, nothing is worth the cost of extending Trump’s tenure,” he said.