Friday, February 14, 2020

No, Radical Policies Won’t Drive Election-Winning Turnout

My new piece in the Washington Post in now available online (it will be in the print edition this weekend). Faithful readers of my FB feed/blog will note some familiar arguments and language. But it's even crisper and clearer this time around!
"No myth is stronger in progressive circles than the magical, wonderworking powers of voter turnout. It’s become a sort of pixie dust that you sprinkle over your strenuously progressive positions to ward off any suggestion that they might turn off voters. That is how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), now the Democratic presidential front-runner, has dealt with criticism that his more unpopular stances — including eliminating private health insurance, decriminalizing the border and covering undocumented immigrants in a government health plan — might cost him the votes he needs to beat President Trump.
Sanders’s explanation of why this is not a problem is simple, and he has repeated it endlessly. When a member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board asked him whether “a candidate as far to the left as you” would “alienate swing voters and moderates and independents,” the senator replied: “The only way that you beat Trump is by having an unprecedented campaign, an unprecedentedly large voter turnout.” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s campaign manager, adds: “Bernie Sanders has very unique appeal amongst [the younger] generation and can inspire, I think, a bunch of them to vote in percentages that they have never voted before."....
The turnout equation does not necessarily return positive results for a candidate like Sanders. The reverse is more likely. It is truly magical thinking to believe that, in a highly polarized situation, only your side gets to increase turnout. And if the other side turns out in droves, you might not like the results — a warning Democrats would be wise to heed."
WASHINGTONPOST.COM
Despite what Sanders says, Democrats still have to persuade voters in the middle.

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