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Only in today’s Democratic Party could someone like former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg be considered a “moderate.”
The prevailing narrative of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has been shaped by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his unrepentant socialism, which has bifurcated the party between outspoken extremists and radicals masquerading as moderates.
On the one hand, there is Bernie himself and the similarly extremist candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. On the other hand are the candidates who have been assigned the misleading appellation “moderates” simply because they stop short of preaching outright revolution.
The alternatives to Sanders are handed the moderate label more as a matter of convenience than because their policies actually conform to the American mainstream.
Until recently, the standard-bearer for this group was former Vice President Joe Biden. But Biden’s spectacular demise – a fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and a truly embarrassing failure to even hit the 10 percent mark in the New Hampshire primary – has sent the Democratic establishment scrambling for someone to fill the role of the putative “moderate” in the race.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Many are gravitating toward Buttigieg, whose seldom-examined policy agenda is, in fact, so far to the left that it would have been unimaginable in the Democratic Party of President Barack Obama, let alone that of President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, for instance, won the White House in 1992 while calling for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” – a strategy that also worked for Obama 16 years later. That constitutes a moderate position, at least within the Democratic Party.
So-called “moderate” Pete Buttigieg, however, has taken a much more aggressively pro-abortion approach, opposing restrictions on abortion right up to the moment of birth. If that makes Mayor Pete a “moderate” then let’s call Col. Sanders a vegan!
A 2018 Gallup poll found that only a truly tiny minority of Americans – 13 percent – believe abortion should generally be legal in the third trimester. Even among Democrats, only 18 percent think abortion should generally be legal in the third trimester, making Mayor Pete’s position truly extreme.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at “We The People 2020: Protecting Our Democracy After Citizens United,” at Curate, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Buttigieg is even more radical when it comes to criminal justice reform, pledging to “Ensure more people are free by significantly reducing the number of people incarcerated in the United States at both the federal and state level by 50%.”
Between jails and prisons, that would mean about 1.1 million convicted criminals released into American communities. They wouldn’t all be “non-violent drug offenders,” either – though Buttigieg is saying that as president he would decriminalize possession of all drugs, including meth and heroin.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., meets with people outside a polling place where voters will cast their ballots in a primary election, in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
President Trump has gotten behind historic federal sentencing reform, too, but he took a much more responsible approach. Recognizing the excesses of the so-called “War on Drugs” and its devastating impact on some poor and minority communities, he signed the First Step Act into law.
The First Step Act offers certain nonviolent offenders opportunities to reduce their sentences by participating in programs designed to help them become productive members of society. That is a moderate position, and the broad bipartisan support for the First Step Act is proof.
Casually releasing more than 1 million criminals onto the streets is decidedly not a moderate position.
Supporting open borders is also a far cry from what any reasonable person would call “moderate” – so it should come as no surprise that Mayor Pete not only embraces unfettered illegal immigration, but actually wants to encourage more of it.
For decades, the vast majority of Americans have consistently told pollsters they want less immigration or about the same as we have. Buttigieg and the other Democratic candidates are not among them.
In addition to amnesty for all of the 11 million or more illegal immigrants in the country, taxpayer-funded benefits such as free health care for illegal immigrants that will incentivize even more illegal border crossings, and new barriers to deportations, Buttigieg has advocated for decriminalizing illegal immigration altogether.
Buttigieg even wants to create a new “community renewal visa” to funnel cheap foreign labor right into the areas where American citizens are struggling most for jobs and higher wages.
The rest of Buttigieg’s platform is just as far outside the mainstream. From federal registration of gun owners, to sweeping calls for online censorship and surveillance – presented under the guise of combatting “white nationalism” – to subordinating the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom to the demands of transgender advocates, there is hardly anything even remotely “moderate” about it.
Just because Bernie Sanders is willing to openly identify as a “democratic socialist” doesn’t mean the other candidates are “moderate.” Only in this Democratic Party would that notion make sense. All of them – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., included – believe a lot of the same stuff.