A Trump-inspired resurgence on the left has even many centrist Democrats embracing an outspokenly liberal wish list as their party hopes to capture one or both chambers of Congress in November.
Just don’t count on any of it happening soon.
Even symbolic votes on the growing roster of progressive expectations could create political headaches for Democrats seeking the White House in 2020. That means “Medicare for all,” debt-free college and a $15 minimum wage will remain more the subject of liberal aspirations than represent a real shift in the nation’s policies.
President Donald Trump is already trying to tar progressive ideas as ballot-box poison, denouncing single-payer health care as Venezuela-style “socialism” (never mind that he endorsed it in 2000) and saying Democrats who want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency must have a “death wish.” Democrats may have trouble uniting even on repeal of Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which received not a single Democratic vote in either chamber when it passed last year.
At the same time, the party’s left flank warns that the biggest political mistake Democrats could make is to deflate their base’s enthusiasm — and that timid moves will not motivate progressives to flock to the polls in 2020.
The Democrats’ predicament after November may mirror the difficulties Republicans faced after their tea-party-fueled House sweep eight years ago, which forced GOP leaders to put down repeated insurrections from the conservative Freedom Caucus on fights like the debt limit.