Against Bipartisanship: The Three Kinds of Swing Voters

When voter turnout decides the election, bipartisanship is exactly the wrong response. Bipartisanship is about D-R swing voters. D-R swing voters are voting no matter what. Voter turnout is about everybody but D-R swing voters.

There are three major parties in U.S. politics: Democrat, Republican, and None-Of-The-Above (e.g. not voting). So really there are three types of swing voters: N-D swing voters (left of democrat), D-R swing voters (“moderates”), and R-N swing voters (right of republican). In competitive races, the None-Of-The-Above voters are the ones who see Democrats and Republicans as so similar — and unpalatable — that it isn’t worth jumping through the hoops necessary to vote for one or the other.

The far right has achieved its electoral success through a combination of making it harder for N-D swing voters to vote, and mobilizing R-N swing voters with more and more extreme right wing Republican candidates. Sure, a few D-R swing voters swung D in this election. Those are the swing voters the far right could afford to lose, for the sake of mobilizing the R-N swing voters. So the Democratic Party’s strategy of compromising with moderates at the expense of the base (the margins), is a losing strategy.

The Democrats retook the house because the R’s had moved so far right, that tens of millions of N-D swing voters decided it was worth navigating all the voter suppression to vote for a meaningfully less-bad D. The Democrats will only survive as a party if they embrace this as a mandate to go far Left and engage the 51% who didn’t vote, instead of abandoning the most marginalized while chasing after the stragglers from the Republicans’ steady goosestep farther Right.

This was originally posted on Facebook, right after the midterm election. I am reposting it because it remains relevant to the Democratic primaries: The argument that the Democrats should nominate a moderate in order to be “electable”, is fundamentally flawed. The Democrats need someone who can appeal to the broadest base of swing voters: the left-of-Democrat D-N swing voters.

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