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James Carville, a former top adviser to President Clinton, laid out a scathing critique of his party, arguing that it drifted way too far to the left and was on the way to failure as a result of pushing extreme policy ideas.
“We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about and we won,” he said in a Vox interview published on Friday. “And now it’s like we’re losing our damn minds. Someone’s got to step their game up here.”
Carville added that he considered himself a “liberal” rather than a centrist — but Democrats went too far even for him.
“They’ve tacked off the damn radar screen,” he said when asked if the party moved too far left.
His comments came just after another interview in which he said he was “scared to death” after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., netted a large portion of the vote in Iowa’s caucuses.
According to Carville, both Sanders and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were pushing “stupid” ideas about higher education.
“Democrats talking about free college tuition or debt forgiveness. I’m not here to debate the idea. What I can tell you is that people all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans. They don’t want to hear this s–t. And you saw Warren confronted by an angry voter over this. It’s just not a winning message,” he said.
Carville was referring to a tense interaction in which a father blasted Warren for forgiving student debt after he and his daughter worked to pay off her loans.
Carville also took a shot at Sanders for saying that he wanted to expand voting rights for people like the Boston bomber. Sanders, the well-known Democratic strategist suggested, would be ineffective as president and wasn’t representative of the Democratic Party. Instead, Carville said, he is an “ideologue.”
“[H]ere’s what I do know: Sanders might get 280 electoral votes and win the presidency and maybe we keep the House,” Carville said. “But there’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public …So long as McConnell runs the Senate, it’s game over. There’s no chance we’ll change the courts and nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution.”
At one point, Carville took aim at a New York Times writer, who posted a “snarky tweet” about Louisiana State University (LSU) — Carville’s alma mater.
“You know how f—–g patronizing that is to people in the South or in the middle of the country? First, LSU has an unusually high graduation rate, but that’s not the point. It’s the goddamn smugness. This is from a guy who lives in New York and serves on the Times editorial board and there’s not a single person he knows that doesn’t pat him on the back for that kind of tweet. He’s so f—–g smart.
“[Binyamin] Appelbaum doesn’t speak for the Democratic Party, but he does represent the urbanist mindset,” he said. “We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant.”
Carville is just the latest Democrat to highlight a growing divide between progressives and more establishment figures within the party. Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and filmmaker Michael Moore maintain that pushing progressive policies is critical to winning elections. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the perceived Democratic moderate in 2020, caught flak from Ocasio-Cortez for not going far enough on climate change policy. He also changed his decades-old position on the Hyde Amendment — a bipartisan measure blocking funding for most abortions — amid criticism from his own party.
But like Carville, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid similarly predicted trouble for Democrats because of their immigration and health care policies. And earlier this week, one of former President Obama’s advisers said he no longer recognized the Democratic Party.
“Look, I just don’t recognize the Democratic Party right now,” former Obama National Finance Committee Member Don Peebles said. “I mean, the party has turned so far-left. Also, to see members of Congress jointly dressing up in white as some form of protest or solidarity at the State of the Union address is astonishing.”
The concerns about elitism aren’t new either. MSNBC host Chris Matthews has warned Democrats about appearing out of touch with American voters. “There’s too much self-saluting, too many events that seem to be about saluting them,” he previously said. Matthews also argued that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “personified the elite Democratic Party — the party that had gotten a little too Ivy League, a little too secular.”
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.