The Senate Isn’t Rigged, Progressives Are Just Not Popular
Another day, another example of progressives being upset at the Senate. This time it was that eight Senate Democrats voted against a $15/hour minimum wage. Among those who voted no where Montana’s Jon Tester, Arizona’s Krysten Sinema, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
Naturally, there were some on the left who want to see them primaried. This is a strange desire from a political movement that increasingly sees the Senate as rigged in favor of small, red states. The people who say this kind of thing does not seem to realize that the alternative to Joe Manchin is not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but another Republican. If it was not for Joe Manchin, Mitch McConnell would still be majority leader.
Democratic chances for success in Senate races look bleak, not because Democrats can’t win statewide races, but because the people like AOC have a hard time acknowledging that there’s a whole country outside of her Bronx-based district.
It was less than ten years ago, when Democrats held Senate seats in Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska and both seats in Montana and West Virginia. All these states are small, Republican, and progressives would likely add, largely white. Yet, Democrats still won, which would seem to discredit the idea that the Senate is rigged against them.
Traditionally, Democrats have been more willing to argue that issues and problems should be nationalized. But, progressivism’s problem is that it is just not nearly as popular as its advocates think it is and when you apply an unpopular set of an ideas on the entire country, predictable things happen.
As the Democratic Party moved further left, it moved from a self-perception of being the party of the working man and women and minorities to something else.
It moved from the party of the coal miner who was part of a union to the party of the rabid environmentalist, which turned West Virginia from dark blue to dark red.
It went from the party of civil liberties to the party of wokeness and of gun control, which hurt in rural states.
It went from the party of safe, legal, but rare abortions to unsafe, taxpayer subsidized, and on-demand even up until birth, which make it almost impossible to win in the South.
The fact is that once, voters might have been able to look at their Senate choices of Smith and Jones and make a decision based on the candidates, not their parties. But, that day is gone, legislative elections in America have become like parliamentary elections in Canada or Britain. Now Smith and Jones’ names appear, but voters make their decision based on the letter next to the candidate’s name.
This has hurt the Republican Party is Senate races too, particularly in the Northeast and West Coast, but it has hurt Democrats more. As progressive activists push the party left on things from the environment to abortion to gun control to the woke agenda the party brand becomes associated with those things and in a large, continent-sized country subdivided into regions of differing cultural values and interests that can doom a party that has struggled to appeal to people beyond the coasts.
If progressives were willing just let Joe Manchin be Joe Manchin in the way conservatives are mostly willing to let Susan Collins be Susan Collins, then perhaps Democrats’ chances at winning sizeable majorities would increase. But, to do that would force their activist class to make some concessions.