Liz Peek: Progressives' drubbing opens door to (unlikely) Biden pivot, changing of the guard

Sen. Rick Scott: Democrats ‘doubling down’ on policies, won’t improve after Virginia loss

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., speculates on the Democratic Party’s game plan after a defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial race.

Progressives are so 2020.  

They may not know it yet, but the ultra-liberal cabal that has choked Democrat politics and humiliated spineless party leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has lost its mojo.   

That was the message sent this past Election Day, and it was long overdue.  

Two questions remain. First, will a weakened progressive wing allow Joe Biden to pivot toward the center in a push to help Democrats in 2022? 

Second, what does the rooting out of the malevolent kudzu-like progressive movement mean for Democrats going forward? 

The answer to the first question is that Biden desperately needs to tack toward the middle, but probably will not. Despite the election thunderclap and poll numbers that are truly horrific – the latest Suffolk/USA Today poll shows Biden with only 38% job approval and 59% disapproval – the president seems unmoved. 

Biden continues to press for his Build Back Better program, which is chock-full of progressives’ ambitions. Having campaigned on it for months, it will be impossible for him to walk away from his increasingly unpopular legislation, even if the Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., crowd is on life support. 

This is a problem for Biden, and for Democrats.  

Second, what does voter repudiation of progressives mean for the future of Democrats? 

Voters shouted from coast to coast: they do not want our nation “transformed.”  

It will likely mean that a looming changing of the guard will not favor the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, D-N.Y., faction of the party, and that is good news. 

As they begin to anticipate a punishing election, members of the party about to be hammered stream for the exits. It happened in advance of the GOP washout in 2018, and it is happening to Democrats now. 

Sensing trouble ahead, a total of 37 GOP representatives in the House decided not to run for reelection in 2018, compared to only 18 Democrats. Three Republican senators also left the sinking ship; no Democrats gave up their seats. 

Already, 14 Democrats have indicated they will not stand for reelection. Some are seeking other offices; some are simply burnt out. There is every expectation the number will grow. 

Most important, there is widespread speculation that some senior caucus members might retire. Top of that list is New York’s Jerry Nadler, who has served in the House for 30 years, but can 81-year-old Pelosi and 82-year-old Majority Leader Steny Hoyer be far behind? Do they really want to again serve in the minority?  

Such retirements would ignite a scramble for new leadership. It is inconceivable that Democrats who blame progressives for their setbacks will elevate members of that group.  

Moderates have plenty of ammunition. Voters made it clear on Election Day they are not on board with the progressive wish-list and will go to great lengths to defeat it. (See Buffalo, where a rarely successful write-in candidacy toppled progressives’ mayoral ambitions.) They do not want critical race theory taught to their children. (See Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin’s education-themed campaign beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe.) And,they do not want their police defunded. (See Minneapolis, where voters stood up for common sense.)  

Voters shouted from coast to coast: they do not want our nation “transformed.”  

In reality, Americans have been making their antipathy to the progressive agenda clear for months. Democrats, and the cooperative liberal media, have simply ignored them. 

In the spring, political junkies spotlighted three special elections — in New Mexico, Ohio and Louisiana – they said would test progressives’ clout.  

In all three heavily Democrat districts, moderate candidates beat back progressive challengers. Campaign issues included “Medicare-for-all,” the Green New Deal and other left-wing priorities. In every case, voters rejected the woke slate.    

These rebukes to progressives were followed by former cop Eric Adams beating out leftists in the Democrat primary to run for New York City mayor. Adams won by speaking Republican, as one analyst described it, coming out against raising taxes and promising safer streets.   

In Seattle, one of the bluest cities in the nation, Republican Ann Davison won the race for city attorney. According to the local press, “No Republican has won a city election in Seattle since Paul Kraabel, who served on the City Council from 1975 until 1991.”   

None of this means that progressives will not continue to be a thorn in Joe Biden’s side, or that we can ignore the ongoing threat from their woke policies. There is huge money behind the uber-liberal agenda; it showed up in the Ohio primary to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge and in the ballot initiative in Minneapolis.  

The woke magnates in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and the corporate do-gooders who live protected in their gated estates spew money to progressive causes, indifferent to and untouched by crime on the subways or, for that matter, the cost of gasoline. It is not the billionaire class that suffers when criminals are released back onto the streets, or when Hispanic communities are flooded by people who have crossed into our country illegally, bringing gangs and drugs. 

The noisy ideologues on the far left have been driving the Democrat bus because they are well-funded and because they are largely safe from reprisals.  

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., head of the progressive caucus in the House, said it was vital that Democrats pass the multitrillion-dollar Build Back Better monstrosity, even if it cost her party control of her chamber. Easy for her to say. She represents a district that the Cook Political Report describes as one of the bluest in the nation. No matter what, her seat is safe. 

Not so for the many Democrats facing competitive races in 2022. They know their jobs are on the line.   

Joe Biden’s sinking approval ratings won’t help them. Neither will passing more progressive legislation. Let’s hope they got the message. 

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