A coalition of progressive rights organizations warned on Wednesday that Conservative Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s failure to run for governor in Virginia offered a warning to the rest of the party ahead of next year’s midterms : Either excite voters with a daring program, or risk losing power to the GOP.
“Give people something to vote for or watch you become the very thing they categorically vote against.”
As corporate Democrats rushed to baselessly blame McAuliffe’s defeat on congressional progressives, the Battle Born Collective, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and United We Dream Action argued in a joint statement that the campaign for the former governor of Virginia for his old post was “designed to fail.”
“What happened in Virginia is what happens when Democrats fail to tackle the GOP’s divide-and-rule racism and motivate people to come forward,” the Progressive Coalition said. “The McAuliffe campaign did not have a full pro-worker economic message against a literal private equity mogul.”
Far from offering Virginians a clear political program and a positive vision for the future, McAuliffe – who was previously chairman of the Democratic National Committee – “led the milquetoast campaign he wanted to lead,” the groups continued. “Every other word he said was ‘Donald Trump’ instead of focusing on the issues voters cared about the most.”
“It was a controlled experiment on what NOT to do in 2022,” the coalition added. “This is what it looks like when Democrats get caught off guard and let Republicans dictate the terms of the debate by fabricating a bogus ‘education crisis.’ It doesn’t have to be. It is. still time to adopt an inclusive economic message that ousts racist dog whistles … This should be a wake-up call for Democrats: give people something to vote on or watch yourself become the thing they flatly vote against . “
McAuliffe’s loss to Republican Glenn Youngkin and a surprisingly tight gubernatorial race in the blue state of New Jersey were seen as potential harbingers of what will come midway through 2022, as Democrats cling to narrow majorities in both houses of the US Congress.
“The circumstances of the two races for governors practically confirmed the collapse of the coalition which propelled the Democrats to power under the administration of Donald Trump and Joe Biden to the presidency in 2020,” he added. Washington post reported Tuesday evening. “In the wake of the election, the party has new doubts about Biden’s ability to push his national agenda to the limit and fend off new attacks Republicans have launched on cultural fronts, especially on schools. “
But progressives have argued that Democratic losses in 2022 are not inevitable, as long as the party learns from McAuliffe’s defeat and adjusts its message and actions accordingly.
“If Democrats are to remain competitive, they have to measure up to the voters who ran for them in 2020.”
In a column for Common dreams On Wednesday, progressive writer Richard Eskow noted that McAuliffe’s campaign website was filled with “vague platitudes and promises” instead of simple, popular economic messages – a serious problem in a race in which voters have ranked l economy as the main problem.
The ‘Economics’ section of McAuliffe’s website, for example, pledged “critical investments in building and training the workforce of the future and ensuring that people of all ages have the skills they need. they need to be successful in the jobs of tomorrow ”.
“Terry will achieve this through targeted investments in training and workforce development, partnering with businesses and our educational institutions to retrain and retrain Virginians, and reimagining our system of K-12 education so that every child has access to a world-class education and is ready for the workforce after graduation, ”the page read.
Eskow further observed that instead of a compelling economic platform, McAuliffe attempted to “make the election a referendum on Donald Trump,” a strategy which “was unsuccessful since Trump was not sure. the ballot “.
“After 10 months of Democratic government in Washington, voters saw few actions that improved their lives,” Eskow wrote. “People need real help to navigate the current economic crisis.”
In September, McAuliffe sided with corporate Democrats in Congress in describing the Build Back Better Act’s initial spending level of $ 3.5 trillion as “too high,” although a poll from the same month showed that nearly 60% of Virginians supported this amount of spending. on social spending and the Democrats’ climate package.
The reconciliation bill has since been roughly halved and devoid of popular provisions such as dental and visual benefits to appease Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and other conservative Democrats in Congress.
In a statement released Wednesday, the We Demand More Coalition, which is made up of dozens of women-led rights groups, said that “last night’s elections in Virginia and across the country demonstrated that if Democrats want to stay competitive, they have to deliver for the voters who have come for them in 2020. “
“The Build Back Better Act is a critical investment in building an economy that truly works for all women, caregivers and families across demographics and geographic locations,” the coalition added. “While we are grateful to our elected leaders as they fight for these historic investments, last night’s election showed us that voters need them to get the job done.”
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, echoed this sentiment, saying, “This moment demands bold progressive action that significantly improves people’s lives. “
“McAuliffe’s defeat in Virginia shows why passing a strong stimulus package should be the top priority for Congressional Democrats,” Kimelman-Block said Wednesday. “If Democrats are to retain their majority in Congress next year, they should listen to the progressive champions push for a strong Build Back Better plan that uplifts everyone today while investing in our common future.”
This article has been updated to include comment from Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action.