Judith Armatta

Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist and human rights activist


            For a while now, I have been worrying about the characterization of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as extremists, likening them to extremists on the Right – who promote white supremacy and oppose anything considered “politically correct.” We Leftists or Liberals are warned that, if we support Warren’s and Sander’s policies, we’ll be responsible for Trump’s reelection. We need to be more centrist, we’re told. We need to support those who favor compromise with Republicans, aka “working across the aisle.” This, despite the fact that Republicans are not interested, as they’ve so blatantly shown over the last 11 years.

            On November 16, 2019, Roger Cohen wrote an op ed in The New York Times relating an interview he had with “Chuck Hardwick, lifelong Republican, former Pfizer executive, now retired in Florida, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but not without misgivings.” Hardwick isn’t sure who will get his vote in 2020. “He admires the president’s energy, his courage in taking on difficult issues like China ‘stealing its way to prosperity,’ his corporate tax cuts, and what he sees as a revitalizing impact on American ambition.” But he’d fire Trump if he was a corporate officer because of his inability to manage people. Hardwick is looking to the Democrats. He likes Michael Bloomberg (a former Republican), but he might be okay with Joe Biden. Cohen, who knows the Republicans in Congress will never vote to impeach Trump no matter how damning the evidence, tells us “he will never be dislodged the conventional way.” And advises, “Think Hardwick.” In other words, let disgruntled Republicans determine the Democratic nominee and, by extension, the next President.

            On November 17, the NYT published an Op Ed by N. Gregory Mankiw, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers for George W. Bush, and later, economic advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. Mankiw has relinquished his Republican Party membership and become an Independent because of Trump’s trade wars, huge budget deficit, attacks on the Federal Reserve, denial of climate change, and attacks on U.S. allies – AND because, as an Independent in Massachusetts, he can vote in the Democratic primary. So, who will he vote for? Not Elizabeth Warren (Senator from his home state) or Bernie Sanders. They “are proposing to move the country too far in the direction of state control of the economy,” which “will tempt those in the center and center right to hold their noses and vote for Mr. Trump’s reelection.”

            Mankiw will vote for the Democrat who supports a return to Free Trade, a market-based approach to climate change, incremental healthcare reform (i.e. not “medicare for all”), and doesn’t demonize the wealthy. In the past, that would have been a Republican agenda. It is now creeping into the Democratic Party and will influence who their presidential candidate will be. In other words, Republicans are diluting the progressive policies of the Democratic Party. The Party is becoming more Republican as Republicans look to it as an alternative to Trumpism.

            Warren and Sanders are no more moving the Democratic Party to Socialism than Franklin Roosevelt did. Their platforms favor community, where all can reach their fullest potential, improving society as a whole, over a self-aggrandizing individualism, where the wealthy believe they earned every penny solely through their own efforts, ignoring the hard work of those (underpaid) workers who made it possible for their businesses to succeed. Mankiw does not want to share because he apparently believes that his business success has already raised living standards and contributed to higher productivity – which sounds like the debunked trickle down theory that Republicans have been promoting for decades. So, he should not pay higher taxes, and, as he says, the proposed wealth tax won’t be enough to raise living standards anyway. (I can’t help wondering whether he uses loopholes available to the rich to significantly reduce or erase his tax contribution so those who might also be entrepreneurs could afford an education and contribute to society.)

            First, the pundits warned that the Democrats needed to court white working class men who abandoned the Party to vote for Trump, i.e. dump the ‘radical’ Left and support centrists. Now, we’re told we need to support centrists (who sound a lot like Republicans) because the rich feel demonized and Republicans won’t vote for Leftist “extremists.”

            Trump is driving Republicans toward the Democratic Party. With their influence, are we in danger of turning the Democratic Party into what was once the Republican Party?