The Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign is beginning to adopt more progressive, big-government positions than the candidate ran on in the primary election, generating frustration from progressives who pointed out that the left wing of the party has been calling for such policies for years.
"It's almost as if...the left was right all along," tweeted journalist Alex Kotch.
The Biden campaign's pivot leftward was reported by the New York Times Saturday in a piece describing how the candidate's policy shift was forced upon him by the coronavirus pandemic, which has generated an economic crisis with at least 36 million Americans out of work.
Reality is radicalizing, even for the Democratic Party. https://t.co/B7YAWhdGn8
— Eric Klinenberg (@EricKlinenberg) May 17, 2020
"Incrementalism won't suffice for a real recovery," Sawyer Hackett, communications director for former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro, said on Twitter. "We need big structural change that puts people first."
As the Times reported, the pandemic has sparked an ideological shift across the party:
Democratic leaders say that if they hold power next January, they must be prepared to move to pump trillions more into the economy; enact infrastructure and climate legislation far larger than they previously envisioned; pass a raft of aggressive worker-protection laws; expand government-backed health insurance and create enormous new investments in public-health jobs, health care facilities and child care programs.
The shift is being adopted by even more right-wing and centrist Democrats, like Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who told the Times the party realized the need to act to address the systemic failures that provoked the crisis.
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"There is a recognition that this event is more transformative than 2008, more transformative than 9/11, more transformative than the fall of the Berlin Wall," said Warner.
A major backdrop for the Dem conversation is a widely held view that they did not fully meet the moment in the last recession.
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) May 17, 2020
HuffPost reporter Zach Carter noted on Twitter that bolder, progressive policy priorities are in line with the majority of American opinion and that the pandemic may finally change the party's thinking on the kind of legislation to pursue.
"There has been a weird disconnect for some time between mainstream views of American politics and 'centrist' views within the Democratic caucus," said Carter. "Would be good for the party to embrace reality."
While the article contained domestic policy proposals and plans, it did not address one major progressive priority: ending the U.S.'s forever wars around the world. As In These Times editor Sarah Lazare pointed out, that omission is telling—and one that the left should not allow to go unchallenged.
Not a single word in this whole article about stopping US wars, even amid signs that the Yemen war the Obama-Biden administration backed has unleashed horrific conditions & decimated the country's medical system, enabling an apparent Covid-19 outbreak. https://t.co/xfixNvtQzS
— Sarah Lazare (@sarahlazare) May 17, 2020
"We mustn't let unjust U.S. wars fade into the background during this pandemic, we must not treat them as secondary to our domestic crisis," said Lazare. "U.S. wars are making the world far more vulnerable to this virus—the scale of the injustice and violence is staggering."