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Extreme gamble

Democrats defending Rep. Ilhan Omar may be overestimating the electorate’s appetite for extremes

Extreme gamble

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP)

When Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign in Brooklyn, N.Y., he noted that his father was a Polish immigrant who fled Europe’s poverty and anti-Semitism. It’s a good thing, said Sanders, because most of his father’s Jewish family was wiped out by Nazis during the Holocaust.

That statement came just days before Sanders was one of at least two other Democratic presidential candidates publicly defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., after her series of remarks that many considered anti-Semitic.

Sanders said there’s a difference between criticizing Israeli policy and promoting anti-Semitism—which is true—but Omar’s remarks went beyond policy concerns: In one public setting, the Muslim congresswoman suggested pro-Israeli activists were pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country.” 

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to their own nation fits a classic definition of anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an organization that includes the United States as a member country. 

For a Democratic Party that includes 32 Jewish legislators, as opposed to two Jewish lawmakers on the GOP side, it’s significant its leaders have been so reluctant to call out one of its newest members in Congress on this issue.

But perhaps it’s not surprising given the direction of the Democratic Party ahead of the presidential contests: For Democrats, it appears this election may be more about extremes than the electorate.

In February, when Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., proposed a bill banning infanticide, only three Democrats voted in favor of it. Every Democratic presidential candidate in the U.S. Senate voted against it.

The vote came after New York state passed legislation protecting late-term abortion, and after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam suggested it could be appropriate for a mother and doctor to decide to end a baby’s life after he or she is born.  

Over the next month, something remarkable happened: The proportion of Democrats identifying as pro-life went up by 14 percentage points, according to a Marist poll. Whoever Democratic senators were playing to, it wasn’t to an overwhelming number of Americans. 

With plenty of moderate and independent voters in the mix in 2020, here’s a mantra worth writing on whiteboards in Democratic campaign headquarters: The electorate often isn’t as extreme as the positions Democrats are pushing. 

Failing to recognize that could prove a fatal flaw for Democrats, but it also may provide a natural opening for a more moderate Democratic candidate, even if he or she still might not appeal to most conservatives. 

By the end of the week, the House of Representatives did pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, along with bigotry against “African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.”

It did not mention Omar by name. And despite the events surrounding the congresswoman, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still claimed: “It’s not about her.” 

For Democrats looking to win in 2020, that may be another reminder to jot on the whiteboard.


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  • JDC
    Posted: Mon, 03/11/2019 11:11 am

    When did LGBTQ become a race?

  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 03/11/2019 12:13 pm

    What gets me is that foreigners come here to avoid the repression from their home country then they have the gall to act repressive towards people in this country.

  • Narissara
    Posted: Mon, 03/11/2019 01:24 pm

    I'm still trying to figure out if not hiring illegal immigrants is going to be considered bigotry under this resolution -- and if so, how Congress is going to get around violating its own law, since companies are prohibited from hiring illegals to work on federal contracts. 

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Mon, 03/11/2019 03:11 pm

    The device Ilhan Omar uses is projection.  She accuses Jews of being more loyal to Israel because she is more loyal to an Islamic anti-Isreal agenda.  She gets away with it because the West has chosen to be willingly ignorant.

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 08:27 am

    The reason the right has lost their moral authority with which to call out anti-Semitic racism is because they have chosen to completely an unabashedly embrace literally the exact same tired racist tropes in the form of their anti-Islamic bigotry. 

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 03/13/2019 02:49 am

    Hans, being anti-Islam cannot be a racist trope because Islam is not a race.  Islam is the religion of terror created by a terrorist who commanded his followers to torture and murder Christians and Jews. Disagreeing with this murderous doctrine is not racist.  On the contrary it is what any moral person should do.

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Mon, 03/11/2019 10:24 pm

    Yeah, the electorate's not so extreme.  It's not like we elected a president who basically ran on being an extreme maverick who would drain the swamp and tear down institutions.

    Who could have foreseen that electing a president with glaring character flaws would lead to lowered standards across the political spectrum?  Why on earth would Democrats respond to our "media is the enemy of the people", "Haiti is a shithole country", "The judge trying the case is Hispanic, and he's giving us a very hard time" president with candidates who pitch increasingly screwball ideas in increasingly offensive ways!?

    Congratulations.  We continue down the drain of increasingly polarizing politics.

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Thu, 03/14/2019 06:06 am

    For my part I see progressives as a political movement that embraces extremes.  For example:  If  a party embraces a certain amount of what some would call "sexual freedom" then those who are even further left than that will embrace that party as being more likely to allow and in the future maybe embrace whatever it is that they like to do.  Progressives are always headed somewhere and those who are already there would naturally embrace the party of progressives.  

  • TxAgEngr
    Posted: Mon, 03/18/2019 10:53 am

    According to Wikipedia, Miss Somolia, pictured above, is a fornicator and adulterer.  She has had 3 illegitimate children with one baby-daddy before and during a marriage-and-divorce to a second man.  She and baby-daddy finally got married in 2018 when the youngest child was six years old.  Somehow that behavior does not fit in with my understanding of the Islamic sexual ethic, but it does put her in solid standing with the Democrat Party.  Maybe its a case of "Sharia for thee, but not for me".