Blowback from U.K. election burns Warren, Sanders

Source: Politico | December 13, 2019 | Holly Otterbein and Alex Thompson

Centrists warn Corbyn defeat highlights the dangers of a progressive nominee.

The votes were still being counted in the U.K. when a fierce debate broke out over whether the crushing defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party foreshadowed dark days ahead — for the left-wing Democrats running for U.S. president, that is.

As exit polls rolled in showing a landslide victory for Boris Johnson’s Tories, particularly in former Labour strongholds that had backed Brexit, centrist Democrats seized the opportunity to argue that a moderate must be nominated to defeat President Donald Trump. And they continued to press the case Friday.

“It’s a lesson for all Democrats who are eager to replace Trump,” said former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “There was no skimping on the progressive agenda and it was the worst performance in two decades. It’s not just economics. You have to have a candidate and a message that’s close to the zeitgeist of the moment — not just a grab bag of giveaways.”

The thoroughness of Corbyn‘s thrashing revived the longstanding debate within the party over just how ambitious the Democratic agenda should be, and provided fresh ammunition for the arguments of moderates who contend that if the party backs Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, the primary’s leading progressives, they’ll lose the Rust Belt and perhaps even elsewhere.

The left played defense in the wake of the loss, insisting that it is unwise to compare the two countries an ocean apart, and that the moderates bashing them had never been held accountable for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss. Plus, they pointed out, Sanders and Warren have far higher favorability ratings than the unpopular Corbyn.

But because Sanders had praised Corbyn in the past and his current and former aides have boosted him, Labour’s monumental defeat trained attention onto him in particular, even from some fellow progressives.

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