Once upon a time — well, really 1971, the first year the American Conservative Union published its Ratings of Congress, you could not guess a member of Congress’ party affiliation by their score. From rural Republicans with flat zeros and Democrats earning awards for conservative voting records, a diverse range of views was represented across party lines.
Fast forward to the just-released 2019 edition of the ACU Ratings of Congress. Today, the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden — who once wielded irrefutable control of the left’s political machine — now struggle to maintain their token conductorship of the Democratic Party and its motley gang of socialist agitators like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the Squad.
By now, the “Bernie Bros” and fatigue-wearing followers of AOC’s Fidel Castro Fan Club have infiltrated Congress and all but rounded up those Blue Dog Democrat strays. A record 116 Democrats scored a flat zero while another 105 scored in the single digits, leaving only 10 Democrats with a score above 10 percent. Averaging scores on the Democratic side of the aisle produced a score of 3 percent, their lowest average ever. The voting records of Democratic senators closely resembled those of the House in 2019, with 36 of the 47 Democrats scoring a flat zero.
Comparing this to the Republican average of 82 percent gives you the biggest spread (79 percent) between the two parties since ACU Ratings began. (This despite the 41 percent rating racked up by one of the last of the old moderates, Collin Peterson of Minnesota.)
A perfect example of modern Democrats’ open-armed embrace of radicalism is Mrs. Pelosi’s attempt to placate the Democratic Socialist wing of the party by holding up the very first Chinese coronavirus relief bill in March. Instead of working together to keep a promise to Americans who had lost their jobs, Mrs. Pelosi sadistically delayed the rescue package while devising a honey-do list of spending demands that had nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with filling up the coffers of her far-left political allies.
The Pelosi demands should be erected on a wall of shame: Demanding who would sit on corporate boards, expanding tax subsidies for the Green New Deal and encouraging universities to give safe harbor to those here illegally, just to name a few. Mrs. Pelosi’s gambits failed, but she, unlike the wind turbines she worships, will keep spinning.
For a broader perspective on where the Democrats took a far-left turn, let’s take a look at 2004, the last time the Democrats had a real free-for-all for their presidential nomination (10 candidates in all), a contest ultimately won by John Kerry. (This was before he became the Father of Iran’s Future.)
That year, there were plenty of moderate Democrats in Congress. For example, take Democrat Robert Marion Berry of Arkansas, who scored a 36. Amidst a majority of progressive votes, his record for the 2004 session includes policy positions that put him squarely in the moderate camp: Keeping taxpayer-funded abortion off of military bases, preventing cuts in defense spending to pay for renewable energy subsidies and restricting expansion of “hate” crimes. Not to mention he supported repealing Washington, D.C.’s draconian gun control laws (later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court).
And there were plenty of other do-something Democrats back then. Democrat Jerry Costello from downstate Illinois scored a 36 (coming off a score of 44 in 2003). Ken Lucas of Kentucky earned a 57. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, in office for two decades, notched a 54 and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, 60. Democrats one and all. As far as the leadership of the House Democrats goes, Mrs. Pelosi had just taken over as speaker in 2004 and had not yet put her imprint on the Democratic Conference as a whole.
To be sure, there were plenty of 0 percent scores to go around among the Democrats in 2004 (50 in all) but the famous “Blue Dog” caucus, the moderate Democrat voting bloc, could boast more than 50 members then.
A look at averages throughout the years makes it clear the change did not come from the Republicans. In 2004, as an example, the Republicans in the House actually earned a better average score (87 percent) than in 2019 (82 percent). It is the Democrats, operating under the strict orders of a hyper-partisan, radicalized left, who have marched to the beat of a different drummer. A drummer sounding a march to ever further toward destroying free speech, free elections and free enterprise.
Not to mention, destroying the political careers of establishment holdouts of the Democratic Socialist purge. Take, for example, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who refused to compromise on his pro-life stand and paid the price by losing his seat in the 2020 primary. (Fearing she would fall behind on the Woke New Deal, Mrs. Pelosi bucked her role in leadership to support incumbents and refused to endorse Mr. Lipinski.)
What Democrat would now dare to voice pro-life views?
This is the track record the Democrats boast facing the 2020 electorate while trying to convince the middle that they are the party of moderation. The numbers say otherwise.
Considering 31 current House Democrats won their seats in districts that elected Donald Trump in 2016, Mrs. Pelosi must ask herself:
Is the Democratic Party better off kowtowing with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad, knowing Democrats will risk losing majority-making seats?
Or will Mrs. Pelosi roll out the welcome mat for Democratic politicians from places where people don’t eat gourmet ice cream by the $13 pint or avoid germs with the filter of a Hermes scarf?
• Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union.
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