Editorial: Centrists and the 2020 election

  • Several of the Democratic candidates gather on stage in Los Angeles last month before a presidential primary debate.

    Several of the Democratic candidates gather on stage in Los Angeles last month before a presidential primary debate. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 1/4/2020 2:22 PM

Permit us a few political observations as we begin a new year that no doubt will be marked by more of the nation's recent stormy politics.

Severe left wingers in the Democratic Party kid themselves if they believe their arguments that in order to win in November, they need a candidate who will energize the base.


If their base hasn't been energized by four years of Donald Trump, then they're not Democrats to begin with.

Which is the point. The voters that Democrats will need in the general election are the ones who are not particularly Democrats -- that is, largely, independents and those Republicans who are turned off by Trump's boorishness and authoritarian tendencies.

The Trump critics who will not automatically turn out for the Democratic nominee are centrists who don't want to vote for Trump but need an alternative they can live with.

This will be particularly true next November if the economy is still humming and the president, rightly or wrongly, is getting the credit. History has shown over and over that voters are not inclined to gamble with their pocketbooks at the polling place.

Can a candidate like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren pick up these voters? Possible perhaps, but Democrats ought not engage in wishful thinking about the added obstacles.

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Both parties, it seems, have moved these days to the extremes -- far to the right for Republicans and far to the left for Democrats.

This doesn't appear to be limited to American politics. In fact, it seems to be part of international fashion, for whatever reason. All over the globe, politics seems to be playing to the extremes.

In that environment, it's as if centrists almost have to apologize for their views, that their lack of strict dogmatism suggests they don't really believe in anything.

But in fact, centrists do.

They believe in order and in pragmatism, in listening and reasoning. They don't believe the country needs to be turned on its head; they believe that steady progress is sustainable progress.

They may lean left or they may lean right, but they don't believe that any ideology has all the answers.

Most of all, centrists believe in reviewing arguments and basing their views on facts, not on reflexes or unchallenged orthodoxy.

They're less inclined to deify or to demonize. They believe in large tents and in bringing people together.

If these beliefs are articulated with passion, they are all beliefs that ought to energize and to matter.

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