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How Is Going From “Yes, We Can!” to “No, We Can't!” a Message For Electoral Success?

3 min read

Barack Obama gave a resounding speech of “Yes, We Can!”,  and Democrats loved it.  He was the first biracial man to occupy the White House.  Obama talked about being “transformational.”  And his election and re-election gave hope to many.

Too bad some of the Democrats vying for the Democratic nomination for 2020 have embraced a political message of “No, We Can’t!”

Let’s bring back some lovely memories from the 2nd Democratic Debate:

The stark ideological divide within the Democratic Party was on full display during the second debate Tuesday night in Detroit, as the party's moderate candidates repeatedly tangled with front-runners Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, describing their ideas like “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal as “fairytale” or “wish list” economics.

That’s when the struggling centrists decided to throw a lot of Republican talking points at Warren and Sanders:

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio called Medicare for All “bad policy” and “bad politics.” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Medicare for All would “rip away quality health care from individuals” and was an “example of wish-list economics.”

“It used to be Republicans that wanted to repeal and replace, now many Democrats do as well,” he charged.

Medicare and Medicaid were once thought of as rampant socialism and wish-list economics.  Only Republicans push for eliminating these programs that were considered pie in the sky.  But it got worse during the debate:

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warned that if Democrats want to “take private insurance away from 180 million Americans” — a reference to the fact that Medicare for All would phase out private health insurance — while guaranteeing that every American could get a government job through the Green New Deal, then “you might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.”

And we had the Republican Concern Troll of John Delaney take on Warren’s ideas.  She summed him up perfectly:

And how did all that work out for the “No, We Can’t!” crowd?  Hickenlooper dropped out of the race.  Ryan, Bullock, Bennet, and Delaney didn’t make the debate tonight.  But even though the loudest “No, We Can’t” proponents are not on the stage tonight, do not worry.  We have a couple of others who are around — Klobuchar and Biden.

Klobuchar is Minnesota nice, and she claims to have bold ideas.  But she is…Well, let’s let her say it:

“I think there’s a lot of people making promises and I'm not going to make promises just to get elected. I am not running for chair of the Democratic National Convention, I am running for president of the United States and that means you bring people together and find that common ground in our own party,” she said.

“Those are big bold things that haven't been done,” she said. “And some of my colleagues, yes they have I guess you can call them bigger and bigger promises, but I think what's most important to the people of America is we actually get those things done.”

Yes, where have I heard that “Let’s be practical approach.”?  I seem to recall that Hillary Clinton used that line about Bernie Sanders.  Did it make Democratic voters flock to the polls in important states?

And finally, Joe Biden is using this same message.  It will be on full display tonight at the debate.  

Biden supporters will argue that Biden is the front runner because of his message.  I think it is just because he was Obama’s VP and has the name recognition.  But ask yourself this:  if he wasn’t Obama’s VP, do you think  his message, which is essentially the same as the other candidates above, would be resonating with Democratic voters?

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