Time for Suburban Democrats to Prove They’re Moderates
Chester County used to be “ruby red” politically, so much so that Democrats often didn’t field candidates there. Then, around 2000, things started to change. And after 2016, they changed rapidly.
Republicans once dominated in the suburbs, and their dominance was partly fueled by support from most Independents and also from low-interest voters, who voted for the GOP because “everybody” did. At cocktail parties, if politics were discussed, these people would volunteer that they were Republican or voted Republican. Republican candidates – and policies – were rarely challenged.
But during the 1990s, Bill Clinton worked to “rebrand” Democrats as moderates, and suburban voters began moving away from the GOP. Suburbanites care about the economy, certainly, but most are relatively financially secure – and some are very secure. They have the luxury of choosing to focus more on culture and trendy issues of political correctness.
A new category of registered voter came into being in suburbia: the I’m a “Republican, but” voter, who could still identify himself as a party voter but needed to check off a set of disclaimers. Many suburban Republicans starting hearing questions such as these at cocktail parties, Little League games, and on Election Day:
I know you’re a Republican, but you don’t vote straight ticket, do you?
You’re not anti-abortion – are you?
You voted for Obama, right?
You’re not one of those Tea Party people?
You know Trump lost, right?
These refrains became common to suburban Republicans as they watched the GOP devolve into a minority party. Social acceptance is hugely important in the suburbs. Republicans felt that they had to distance themselves from their party. The growth of the “Republican, but” party helped Democrats eventually win almost everything.
Donald Trump remains a leading subject – if not the leading subject – of the media outlets favored in the suburbs, such as the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. This ensures that Republican candidates from school board to Congress are called upon almost daily to describe themselves as being a member of the “Republican, but” party.
I can tell you firsthand that this questioning also comes from the media. It’s a way to label Republicans and perpetuates the idea that Republicans are bizarre outliers – unless you profess that you’re a “Republican, but” member.
And yet, look at today’s headlines and their connection to policies, not of Republicans, but of Democrats: Covid mandates and school closures, radical school curricula, and riots in Philadelphia and other cities. On many of those issues, Democrats are on the wrong side, even in the suburbs. Polls indicate that 60% to 70% of voters oppose these Democratic policies or are upset with the results and impacts of them.
Want more? Fourteen days of federal, state, and local police chasing Danelo Cavalcante, an illegal immigrant and double-murderer, across the suburbs; another round of rioting and shoplifting in Philadelphia; California putting forth a law that allows the state to remove minor-age children from parents if the parents object to the child’s “wishes” to sexually transition; President Biden leaving our southern border so unsecure that even Democratic mayors in Chicago and New York are begging that he close it; and, then, last week, marches and rallies in Philadelphia (and across America) celebrating Hamas’s barbaric attacks on Israel, including Democratic Party allies like the Democratic Socialists of America, Black Lives Matter, and the Working Families Party.
Maybe voters and reporters should start asking suburban Democrats if they belong to the “Democrat, but” party.
“I know you’re a Democrat, but . . . You know we have to seal the border, right?
You know that de-funding the police makes no sense, don’t you?
You know that no-cash bail is dangerous, I hope?
Please tell me that you know that we should never allow teachers and principals to keep secrets from parents?
You can admit that the mandates and lockdowns were too extreme, right?
You understand that showing pornographic books to elementary school students is a bad idea?
You know it’s wrong when so-called protestors burn-down stores and steal laptops just because some say they’re upset with a court decision, right?
Asking these questions may not help Republicans win elections, but it could push Democrats to moderate their policies and get us back to sanity. And we may then be able to learn if there are, in fact, any moderate Democrats in the suburbs willing to stand up to left-wing extremist ideology, embrace common sense, and show some independence.
Are my suburban Independent and even “Republican, but” neighbors prepared to ask these questions? When they are, suburban politics will enter a new phase.