Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell wrote an op-ed in The Hill this week that served as a stern warning to his fellow Democrats: Guys, I’m with you all the way, but you’re getting WAY out there for mainstream America.
In the piece, Rendell admonishes Democrats for running to embrace Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” plan, stomping all over their immigration message with extremist calls to “Abolish ICE,” and riling up the conservative base with the outlandish promise to “investigate and impeach” Justice Brett Kavanaugh should they win the midterms. While Rendell voices some muted sympathy for all of these positions – he is a Democrat, make no mistake – he said that it was going to kill the party’s chances of taking back real power in Washington.
On the matter of Kavanaugh, he wrote:
Once he was confirmed, we should have let the issue drop. But too many of our most vociferous progressive candidates and progressive media outlets promised that Democrats will begin impeachment proceedings against Justice Kavanaugh if we take back the House. First of all, that’s another promise that never could be achieved. Yes, if we win the election, and if every Democratic House member voted to impeach Justice Kavanaugh, we could send his case to the Senate for trial.
But, of course, there is no way we would ever get 66 votes to convict him and remove him from the court. So, they were guilty of making a shallow promise with no basis in reality. By doing this, Democrats gave ammunition to the Republicans, ensuring their base has a reason to vote by making the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh a weapon. This helped create momentum that dramatically reduced the Democratic Party’s lead in the enthusiasm gap among voters.
We disagree with Rendell here, only insofar as we believe the party’s extremism against Kavanaugh was way out of bounds even before the judge was confirmed. Those allegations never had the kind of merit that should have required the absolutely farce we saw on Capitol Hill, but hey, what’s done is done. We certainly agree that pressing the issue with nonstop congressional investigations is a divisive, ludicrous idea.
“The moral of the story is: if we continue to tack to the far left in the 2020 election cycle, we surely will see another four years of President Trump (please, no!),” Rendell concludes. “But, if we recalibrate our thinking and come up with a solid left-of-center candidate (e.g. Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Klobuchar, or Rep. John Delaney of Maryland) we just might win — and take the House and Senate as well.”
This isn’t the kind of talk that progressive Democrats want to hear, and for the sake of the next election, we kinda hope they keep plugging their ears. Because Rendell is absolutely right. Bernie Sanders and his ilk may be able to make a lot of noise online and on college campuses; when it comes to the national vote, they’re dead in the water. But hey, if Democrats need to learn that lesson in no uncertain terms, we’re sure Donald Trump will be happy to teach them.