Pollak: Democrats Aren’t Having a Grown-up Debate About Policy

New Hampshire debate (Joe Raedle / Getty)
Joe Raedle / Getty

Democratic Party voters are beginning to lose hope that any of their presidential candidates stand a chance of defeating President Donald Trump in November — and the reason is not just charisma, but willful naïveté about policy.

The candidates seem to live in a fantasy dictated by cable news and left-wing activists, a college dorm room far away from the real choices being a grown-up requires.

Take, for example, the candidates’ answers at the New Hampshire debate on Friday evening about whether they would take a shot at Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the terrorist leader killed in a successful airstrike ordered in January by President Trump.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested he would not have done it — and claimed that the airstrike had made war more likely.

It has been more than a month since that airstrike, and there has been no war. In fact, Iran suffered a defeat, and faced nationwide protests after it shot down a civilian airline during its attempt to retaliate — something Buttigieg said at the time was really Trump’s fault.

Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted Trump for allegedly minimizing brain injuries suffered by Americans when Iran responded with missile strikes on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. But he did not consider the alternative: had Trump done otherwise, the U.S. might have been forced to go to war.

Biden also demanded he be given credit for the nuclear deal with Iran — a disastrous capitulation in which the Obama administration gave away America’s hard-won leverage for a deal allowing Iran to resume its nuclear program fully after several years.

What the entire Democratic field fails to grasp is that a limited use of force can sometimes avoid a much larger conflict, and produce better results at the negotiating table. They prefer to live in a dream in which our enemies will simply do the right thing if America presents a cuddlier face to the world.

Or take the candidates’ approach to health care. The main debate between radicals like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the one hand, and supposed “moderates” like Biden, Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuhcar (D-MN) on the other, is whether to impose government insurance — “Medicare for All” — on everyone right now, or whether to do it over time, after giving people the “option” to join the program.

These debates have nothing to do with what many say is the main problem with health insurance in America today, which is that people are paying high premiums for high deductibles — in other words, to pay more for insurance that they cannot use.

The Trump administration has, at least, helped restrain the dramatic rise in Obamacare premiums. What comes next? Aside from businessman Andrew Yang, who at least talks about medical innovation, none of the Democratic frontrunners seems to have any idea.

Another example of the candidates’ inability to grasp reality was their discussion of race. There is no spectacle in politics more ridiculous than a panel of candidates without any black contenders trying to out-“woke” each other on race.

None of the candidates talked about the economic progress of black and Latino Americans. Buttigieg talked about “systemic racism” in South Bend– when, as the moderator pointed out, he was the one in charge of the system. Billionaire left-wing donor Tom Steyer hilariously castigated his rivals for not acknowledging the “diversity” in the ranks of the Democratic Party.

More ominously, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared that we need “race-conscious laws” to achieve equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. Sixty-five years after Brown v. Board of Education, a serious Democrat candidate for president is talking about bringing race back to American schools and workplaces.

With these ridiculous proposals, the candidates are pitching themselves to professional activists and pundits who punish deviation from the “progressive” line. But they are failing to reach their own voters.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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