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The Selfishness of Moderates

Conventional wisdom has labeled progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives as the ones who will prevent electoral success for the party. Their ideas for Medicare for All, defunding the police, and abolishing ICE have been blamed for Democrats losing in suburban and swing districts. They are blamed for pushing too hard and working against the success of the party. Yet when moderate Democrats in the House and Senate try to sink President Biden’s cornerstone legislation? Not a peep.

Moderate Democrats like Sen. Machin, Sen. Sinema, and Rep. Gottheimer, who are currently trying to torpedo the reconciliation package, are actively working against their party’s interests. Recent polling has shown broad support for many proposed provisions of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Bill. President Biden’s polls have gone down since the Afghanistan withdrawal, and this piece of legislation would provide a much-needed boost to the party’s leaders. The reconciliation package would allow President Biden to keep many of his campaign promises and increase his chances at winning re-election in 2024. Lowering prescription drug costs, modernizing schools and the electric grid, and lowering the Medicare eligibility age are just a few of the provisions in the budget that have widespread support.

The past few months have seen contentious debate and compromise in Congress with the majority party trying to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package. The deal was always that if one infrastructure bill passes, so does the other, and if one dies so does the other. It is not just politically risky and selfish for moderate Democrats to endanger these bills but also irresponsible. Both the bipartisan and reconciliation bills have much-needed provisions to create a safer infrastructure system. By investing in roads, bridges, the electricity grid, and, more, Congress has the opportunity to do real good for this country. There is no shortage of news articles about the United State’s failing infrastructure. The country needed this bill a decade ago, but better late than never.

By refusing to support this bill, moderate Democrats are putting their own opinions in front of the best for their party and for the country. If moderate Democrats torpedo this bill, they jeopardize the Democratic Party’s chance to win not just in 2022, but they jeopardize President Biden’s chance of winning re-election. On just a political basis, the 2022 midterms are going to be an uphill struggle for the Democratic Party given historical trends. The party in power almost always loses seats. This coupled with the extreme partisan gerrymandering that Republican state legislatures are assumed to do, it is almost a given that Democrats will lose the House if not the Senate. This is their one chance to do something remarkable for their constituents. What better re-election campaign is there than pointing to money flowing into their states and districts? It is the right thing to do for the country, it is the right thing to do for the health of the Democratic Party, and voting for this infrastructure bill should be a no-brainer. Moderate democrats need to get over themselves and get on board.

Anna Hickey is a third-year C.L.E.G. major in the School of Public Affairs. They are the Editor-in-Chief for the American Agora.

Image Credits: Eric Haynes

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