The extremism of the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates has left the political center up for grabs, and President Donald Trump is poised to exploit that opening by advancing principles shared by Americans across the ideological spectrum.
The 2020 presidential race has a long way to go, but the way things are shaping up, it looks exceedingly likely that Trump will occupy the center of the political landscape. Democrats, who did all they could to veil their agenda behind a “moderate” messaging strategy throughout the Clinton and Obama eras, have now thrown centrism to the wind and openly embrace a radical socialist platform.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the Democrats’ ascendant thought-leader, gave one of the best indications yet of her party’s ideological transformation at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, in early March.
Employing her usual eloquence, she described political moderates as “meh” and their views as misguided. “Moderate is not a stance. It’s just an attitude towards life of, like, ‘meh,’” she declared, arguing that it is “cynical” to doubt the feasibility of her ambition to reshape America along Trotskyite lines.
In place of moderation, Ocasio-Cortez urged the speedy introduction of socialism in place of capitalism, which she called “irredeemable,” because it uses profit, rather than ideology, to incentivize behavior.
Ocasio-Cortez isn’t one of the candidates running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but she’s setting the tone for all of them. Every one of the U.S. senators currently in the race felt compelled to endorse her “Green New Deal,” and several Democrat candidates have indicated that they support the “Medicare for All” proposal that she also has championed. It remains to be seen whether they will also join Ocasio-Cortez in condemning Franklin Roosevelt’s original New Deal as “racist.”
These bomb-throwing antics will make it hard for Democrats and liberal commentators to argue, as they have done since the 2016 campaign, that Trump is the extremist in the race, especially in light of the unifying message he presented in his most recent State of the Union address.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people,” he declared, reminding lawmakers that “these are the people we were elected to serve.”
The administration has already put those aspirational words into practice with an increasing focus on broadly popular, bipartisan parts of Trump’s agenda. According to Axios, the White House is preparing a series of executive orders on issues such as education, drug pricing, the opioid epidemic, and veterans affairs.
At a time of intense gridlock on Capitol Hill, orders such as these put ideology aside and deliver substantive progress on issues that matter to all Americans, without having to rely on a Congress that can’t even seem to agree on minor issues. The strategy builds on a slowly accumulating legacy of bipartisan moves such as 2018’s First Step Act, which instituted the common-sense prison reforms that successive Congresses and administrations from both parties had failed to enact for decades.
This isn’t what most commentators expected for the 2020 campaign—the president adopting a principled, business-like approach to our greatest challenges in America, with solutions that appeal to the American center-right while Democrats take orders from the far-left fringe of their party—but here we are.
For media pundits, this may create even greater problems than it does for Democratic presidential candidates. They may have to admit that Trump’s message was never as far from the American center as they’ve spent nearly four years trying to convince people it was.
Maybe journalists will have to go back and read what some of their own colleagues noticed about Trump before they realized that he might beat Hillary Clinton. If they do, they’ll come to realize that Trump can’t be defined with traditional Washington labels, and his principled positions will have far broader appeal than any Democrat could possibly have in 2020.
Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) is the founder of the global investment firm SkyBridge Capital and served in the Trump administration as White House communications director.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.