With Sen. Bernie Sanders being the most recent Democrat to announce his candidacy for president, it has become clear that the 2020 election cycle is well underway. As of now, 12 democratic candidates have indicated intentions to run for president, bringing along a whole slew of agendas ranging from healthcare to immigration. These candidates have been quick to announce their support for new, progressive policies including a Green New Deal and Medicare for all. This has drawn support from the increasingly left-leaning voter base of the Democratic party.
Despite the popularity of these new, groundbreaking and perhaps over-ambitious promises, the Democratic candidates for the 2020 nomination must begin to emphasize more pragmatic policies. As any politician can attest to, the mindset of campaigning, with its harsh rhetoric and frenzied ad buyouts, diverges heavily from the mindset required of those who wish to govern. Politics requires moderation, bipartisanship and compromise, all three of which do not appeal to the increasingly polarized voter demographics of both the Democratic and Republican party.
Candidates on both sides, whether it be Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris or even President Donald Trump, have a responsibility to campaign for credible, pragmatic policies that will ultimately benefit the average American. There is no doubt that the Midwest, a critical battleground in 2016, will be heavily contested in the 2020 election. Candidates must keep in mind that that a factory worker in Wisconsin or a single mother in Michigan won’t vote based on progressive agendas that simulate those implemented in Europe. These critical voters couldn’t care less about policies related to reducing greenhouse gases from livestock production (as outlined in the Green New Deal) or spending an exorbitant amount of precious tax dollars to build a wall along our southern border. They care more about putting food on the table, supporting their families and making their paycheck last until the next one comes. They vote based on issues that affect their day-to-day lives. It’s how my family and I voted, and it’s how many families across the United States will vote too.
As much as progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans may hate to admit it, the majority of Americans value realistic and practical policies over ideology. This hungry pursuit of ideology and the expensive policies that arise from it is the reason our government is spiraling into debt and taking the average American down with it.
If politicians really want to change the lives of the typical American and increase their welfare, pragmatic and fiscally responsible policies — like defending the Affordable Care Act and bipartisan immigration/criminal justice reform — are the solutions. Instead of beefing up our border with a gargantuan wall, investing in new technology to secure our border is the better alternative. Instead of pledging to get rid of gas-powered vehicles, which would cripple the energy industry that many working-class voters depend on, implementing better emissions standards and incentivizing green behavior would be far more successful. Politicians are currently viewed as out of touch with their own constituents. Policies that prioritize pragmatism would go a long way to alleviate this problem.
What should candidates do to bridge the gap between campaigning and governing? The solution lies in having a productive dialogue with the critical voters they are attempting to win. Admittedly, this will require cooperation among the different candidates. However, such a feat should not be put aside for ideology’s sake. Instead of crafting policies that prioritize ideology over pragmatism, politicians should work for their own voters’ agendas. Instead of stoking partisanship through rallies, politicians should speak with each other and their constituents to solve the issues that really matter. That’s how you win over the average citizen, and that’s how you win in 2020.