Why the Democrats Do Not Need to Move to the Center


Ask any Democrat, and they will tell you that beating Trump at all costs—excluding enlisting the help of Michael Avenatti—should be the party’s priority.

From November 9th, 2016 until today, pundits have been inundating op-ed sections with thinkpieces psychoanalyzing Midwestern Trump voters, thus popularizing the notion of “flyover country.” According to many pundits, the coastal, elite, latte-sipping bloc of the Democratic Party took control in 2016, leaving Midwestern Democrats—many of whom voted for Obama twice—out of the picture. The easiest solution? Find a way to appeal to these Midwestern Democrats who, in 2016, voted for Trump.

Trump is a racist. He put racial animus at the center of his platform, and some racist Americans appreciating this, voted for him. Others—including those who used to vote for the Democratic Party, even when it was pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, and pro-affirmative action—sought solace in Trump’s populist economic message. Even if many of these voters now regret  voting for Trump in 2016, the fact that they defected from the party to vote for someone who mocked a disabled reporter, called for a Muslim ban, and bragged about sexual assault must be addressed. The Democrats still cannot take these voters for granted.

Some suggest a migration toward the center on social issues. But accommodating pro-life, religious Democrats, even now, is unnecessary. Others have suggested that the party become less vocal about transgender rights and begin to disavow political correctness on campuses. This is also unnecessary.

Why? Many former Democrats who voted for Trump have tolerated the Democratic Party’s social progressivism when it shepherded a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, when it supported Affirmative Action, and when it fought for the right to choose. They became disenchanted with the party when it became less vocal about its bread and butter economic issues: raising the minimum wage, negotiating fair trade deals, and supporting working people.

These voters care about one thing above all: economic well-being. They believed that Trump’s anti-NAFTA, anti-TPP positions would help people like them. They hoped that Trump, as promised, would bring jobs back to the United States. Those who voted for Trump because he vowed to lower taxes, curb illegal immigration, and overturn Roe v. Wade were Republicans way before Trump came along. Migrating to the center to appeal to these voters, therefore, will be a fruitless pursuit.

Photo via Getty Images

About the author

Matt Walsh is a VI Form day student from Southborough, Massachusetts. He leads Openly Secular, plays trumpet and French horn, and leads the young Democrats club. His academic interests include public policy, political science, and chemistry, and he plays baseball and runs cross country. In his free time, he curates Spotify playlists and pets his dog, Portia. Matt hopes that The Parkman Post can be a hub for intellectual thought, ideological diversity and meaningful debate.

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  1. charles Brookby

    Ahh yes… let’s justify the political polarization of America. Great idea.

    Heres the thing: our global competitors, China, Russia, and to some extent European nations, laugh at us. They see that the American political system is ripping itself apart because we apparently lack the ability to compromise on any issue. I think this is a major flaw in the current state of our country, and needs reform quickly.

    Now before you accuse me of blaming this issue only on democrats, let me make this very clear: this issue is VERY MUCH two sided. I am not a fan of shutting down the government when you don’t get what you want. It’s childish in my opinion. But I am writing this comment for another reason…

    In your piece you claimed, rather boldly, that “Trump is a racist”. Then you went on to claim that “he put racial animus at the center of his platform”, yet provided no accurate example of how he did this. The only example you offered that had anything to remotely do with race was the TEMPORARY ban he put on immigration from roughly 7 countries at a time when terrorism was rather concerning. By the way, Obama did the same thing… just incase you didn’t know.

    I do not see how this logical ban is a racist act. The ban wasn’t on muslim people, it was on immigrants from a list of countries. The fact that they are muslim majority countries does not make it a racists act. Rather, these countries are infamous for producing radical islamic warriors who are willing to sacrifice their own lives if it means Americans will die. The ban wasn’t racist, it was smart. Obama knew the same thing when he did it.

    If I have missed anything, please let me know.

    • Matthew Walsh

      Let’s see…

      Trump called his ban a Muslim ban during the campaign. And if all he wanted to do was ban people who were travelling from countries that produce terrorists, why wasn’t Saudi Arabia on that list and Iran was?

      Refusing to immediately condemn the white nationalists who marched at Charlottesville (including call them “fine people”!) seemed pretty racist to me.

      Not disavowing David Duke.

      Fomenting fear of MS-13 when, in reality, police officers and sheriffs who are actually in areas where there’s some MS-13 influence say that it’s really not a big threat.

      Generally being nativist and anti-immigrant.

      Hate crimes are on the rise with Trump in office.

      And the infamous shithole countries trope.

      Yeah and Obama’s travel ban is far different than Trump’s. There’s a pretty good analysis of that here: https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jan/30/donald-trump/why-comparing-trumps-and-obamas-immigration-restri/

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