I make a habit of reading editorials in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Those opinion pieces usually give me intellectually strong arguments on both sides of important national issues—the conservative argument from the Journal and a liberal perspective in the Times and the Post.
Therefore, it was surprising last Friday to read the Times editorial about the direction of the Democratic Party following last Tuesday’s election. Had I not known the source, I could have sworn it came from the Journal.
“Democrats Deny Political Reality at Their Own Peril,” read the headline. The piece warned Democrats to comprehend what happened in the election and adjust accordingly. “The danger of ignoring those trends is too great,” the Times said.
“What would do justice, and what is badly needed, is an honest conversation in the Democratic Party about how to return to the moderate policies and values that fueled the blue-wave victories and won Joe Biden the presidency in 2020.”
There it is, in black and white—literally. The acknowledgment in arguably the most influential liberal publication in America, that Biden’s election was a repudiation of Donald Trump, a desire for moderation, and not a mandate for a litany of progressive causes.
The Times called for Democrats to return to kitchen table issues and seek bipartisan approval for the possible, instead of trumpeting the impossible and alienating voters. “Democrats agree about far more than they disagree about,” the editorial said. “But it doesn’t look that way to voters after months and months of intraparty squabbling.”
Also last week, the editorial page of the Washington Post urged Democrats to seek compromise on the controversial $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan by moving to the middle, specifically by embracing a well-known Democrat who many in the party believe is holding up the works—Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“Maybe they should try listening to him,” Post editorial writer and columnist Charles Lane wrote.
“The goal would be a gimmick-free, paid-for, 10-year, $1.5 trillion plan focused on perhaps two clearly defined programs that benefit low- and middle-income people,” said Lane.
I would not be surprised if we hear more Democrats saying something similar. The Times and the Post are thought leaders and Democrats are searching for solid footing after stumbling badly in last Tuesday’s election.
German chancellor Otto Von Bismarck famously said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best.” That is a good mantra for both parties, but it is especially true now for Democrats as they search for a way forward in policy making and campaigning.