Why the Democrats Do Not Need to Move to the Center

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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 messages. Even if many of these voters now regrets 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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