In a heated caucus-wide conference call on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other centrist Democrats in the U.S. House reportedly blamed lost congressional seats on the redistributive agenda advanced by the party's progressive members, with Majority Whip James Clyburn warning that running on "socialized medicine" will result in losing the two runoff races in Georgia that could give the party a Senate majority.
The preemptive assault on universal healthcare by South Carolina's Clyburn, a top recipient of money from the pharmaceutical industry, comes just days after a series of Fox News polls showed that 72% of voters favor "changing to a government-run healthcare plan," among other egalitarian policies that received widespread support.
"Polls consistently show a majority of the U.S. electorate [is] considerably to the left of both party leaderships... on issue after issue—the environment, electoral reform, [and] Medicare for All," said Jacobin's Luke Savage, less than 72 hours before the Democratic Party establishment recycled its attacks on popular progressive policies following a underwhelming showing at the ballot box.
Despite what "corporate front groups and lazy pundits always say," tweeted journalist Andrew Perez, "people absolutely do not like their private health insurance."
As we saw in Democratic primary exit polls: People absolutely do not like their private health insurance, as corporate front groups and lazy pundits always say https://t.co/cSWoI2sKps— Andrew Perez (@andrewperezdc) November 3, 2020
As Perez and David Sirota reported in the Daily Poster on Thursday night, "The disconnect between Democratic leaders' views and reality spotlights a growing political problem."
person who just oversaw epic losses cautions against doing anything different from what just delivered said losses https://t.co/bd7hR15k5U— David Sirota (@davidsirota) November 6, 2020
"Democrats focused their 2020 election message on support for Obamacare and bashing Medicare for All," wrote Sirota and Perez, "but the electorate isn't very enthusiastic about an Affordable Care Act (ACA) that has failed to protect millions of people from a burgeoning healthcare crisis."
According to Fox News exit polls from election night, 52% of voters in Georgia want the ACA entirely or partially repealed, while 63% are in favor of "changing the healthcare system so that any American can buy into a government-run healthcare plan if they want to."
But if the House Democrats' contentious conference call is any indication, moderates' hostility to universal healthcare could push the candidates to move closer to Joe Biden's position, which is, as the Daily Poster put it, "a public option [that] would only be open to lower-income Americans rather than being open to everyone."
According to Sirota and Perez, when Biden explained his plan during the first presidential debate, "a Democracy Corps poll found that voters reacted negatively to Biden's description—the survey, using real-time dial meters, showed a steep drop in support when Biden said his public option would be limited."
"Democrats in Washington," tweeted Sirota, "seem intent on placating the health insurance industry and then losing the Georgia Senate races."
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Democrats in Washington seem intent on placating the health insurance industry and then losing the Georgia Senate races. https://t.co/g2NjbnRh7R— David Sirota (@davidsirota) November 6, 2020
Savage noted on social media that rather than run on any of the left-wing policies now being maligned by centrist Democrats and defended by progressives, the party's "entire strategy quite actively repudiated them," as Common Dreams reported on Friday.
"There is apparently nothing that will make elite liberals think twice about their own failures, even when their preferred methods have been tested and come up short," Savage continued. "The Democratic establishment defeated Bernie [Sanders] and his agenda! They ran the campaign they wanted! They courted Republicans, again."
"Going to have to do better than apportion blame to a bunch of political phantoms," he added.
According to Politico's reporting about House Democrats' tense conversation on Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington defended her fellow progressive colleagues from criticisms she called unwarranted.
Jayapal also argued, however, that "Democrats need to have 'conversations about language' as several members on the call complained about charged terms like 'defund the police' repeatedly weaponized against them during the campaign."
As Common Dreams reported Friday, leftists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reiterated that Joe Biden is indebted to the get-out-the-vote efforts of progressives whose broad redistributive agenda resonates with many working people and energizes those who might have stayed home otherwise.
After all, preliminary data suggests that it was progressive activists, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), whose on-the-ground organizing in diverse, working-class communities helped secure key swing state victories for Biden—not the long-distance courting of disaffected conservatives by the Lincoln Project, which critics say pushes the party further to the right.
Yet, while left-wing members of the Democratic Party are being chastised despite getting reelected and playing a crucial role in potentially ousting President Donald Trump, the Lincoln Project, as Sirota and Perez reported in the Daily Poster on Friday morning, is receiving unearned credit for Biden's victory from MSNBC hosts and anticipates being "'very active' in the Georgia runoffs."
If it's "electability" that centrist Democrats are worried about, former Sanders delegate Stephanie Quilao pointed to this week's Fox News polls: "Turns out... that Americans want what Bernie was offering all along."
While most people in the U.S. want universal healthcare, Sirota noted, "Democrats are focusing on promoting the ACA and helping insurance companies try to stop" Medicare for All.
"If you actively campaign against majority opinion on healthcare during a pandemic," Savage warned, referring to the runoff races in Georgia, "don't be surprised that voters don't like it!"