Anchor Staff Writer
While President-elect Joe Biden was able to take the presidency in this past election, receiving the most votes of any presidential nominee in history, several House Democrats lost their seats. The Democrats are likely to hold the majority in the House, but it will be a very small one.
Many congressional Democrats have lashed out because of this. “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. . . . We lost good members because of that,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) criticized in a Democratic Caucus call. It’s very easy to pin the blame on the word “socialist,”which has functioned as a boogie-man of sorts for at least a century in America, the label targeted at any policies or individuals politicians desire to take down, irrespective of the word’s actual meaning. From the Red Scares, McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare to this day with conservative news sources like Fox continuing to label practically every Democrat as a socialist regardless of their actual policy stances, “socialism” is a perfect scapegoat.
But if one looks at the facts of this past election, they tell a different story. Of the eight House Democrats who lost their seats, none were progressives. None were self-declared “socialists.” They were all moderates.
Despite what so-called “centrists” would have Americans believe, numerous progressive policies have the majority of Americans’ support, party be damned. 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization, 77% support getting big money out of politics, 80% support tougher emission restrictions on power plant carbon emissions, 73% support taxing corporations based on their carbon emissions, and 68% support Medicare for All. Given this data, true political centrism, based on the American popular opinion, would be far more in line with progressive policy than what we see from political moderates.
Instead, centrists and moderates, vow, in essence, to simply maintain the status quo and to take no strong stances. This may have been the safe bet once, the way to amass the most voters, but it’s a strategy that clearly, based on the results of the election, needs to be retired. The world has changed and if politicians don’t change with it, they will be left behind, as those eight moderates who lost their seats were.
America is in dire straits. We are experiencing worse disasters like wildfires and hurricanes than ever due to the climate crisis, the pandemic is worse right now than its been since its start, but with so many American’s healthcare linked to their jobs, the astronomical job loss directly results in Americans losing their healthcare as well, at the time they need it most. On top of all of this, the President is behaving increasingly authoritarian, refusing to concede and making baseless accusations of fraud. Now is not the time to sit back and congratulate oneself on being committed to the status quo in a chaotic political environment. We need strong action and we need our legislative representatives to actually represent us.
It’s likely committed moderate Democrats won’t be embracing the policies most Americans support anytime soon. But hopefully, eventually, they’ll make the connection between who supports strong action and who keeps their job. It’s hard to feel motivated to go vote for a politician who stands for nothing at all. That’s what centrism in America is. Not the center of where the American citizens stand on issues, but the center of a legislative body largely bought and paid for by corporations and stagnating on every issue Americans care about.