Politics United States

A democratic socialist nominee is a bad idea in Trump’s America

I believe that a democratic socialist as Democratic nominee in the 2020 US presidential election would probably be a bad idea – contrary to my personal political views. Here’s why.

If you keep track of world politics, it is particularly interesting to compare the United States with literally the whole rest of the democratic western hemisphere. One of the reasons is the somewhat weird and outdated political system as a whole. A two-party presidential system seems foredoomed only to move back and forth.

The rough political orientation of both the Democratic and the Republican party has been relatively stable in recent American history. That makes it easy to observe the nation’s political preference in just one dimension – from liberal (Democrats) to conservative (Republicans).

The Overton window is a theory in political science to classify the public acceptance of policy propositions. We would divide a scale like our liberal-conservative-scale into different sections. The central section contains policies that are already effective. From there, it goes from popular policy proposals in the middle to unthinkable ones at the far ends – in both directions. Now, the Overton window contains those proposals that lie within public acceptance.

Simplified view of the political range in the US and the shift of the Overton window to the right due to Donald Trump's presidency.
Donald Trump’s presidency shifts the general accaptance of policies to the right. (Alexander Clausen)

What Donald Trump did in the three years of his presidency, he proposed ideas that are so incredibly remote from the general acceptance that moderate conservative policies seem quite considerate in comparison. So what happened is, the Overton window moved to the right. Significantly.

To countersteer and win back the people, the Democrats must basically move the window back to the left. But to do so, they first need to hold the presidency. The Democrats need a presidential nominee who proposes policies that are within the current Overton window rather than one who suggests radical left ideas to win the election in November.

Democratic socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders might be popular within the Democratic party and could even win primaries. I think a democratic socialist would make the better nominee in most democracies, especially in those with a multi-party system with a proportional electoral system and a more diverse political landscape. Nevertheless, I believe that moderate Democratic candidates like VP Joe Biden or mayor Pete Buttigieg would have a considerably better chance of winning the presidential election in the current state of the United States.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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