As we head into the 2024 election season, Democrats have a great shot at keeping the White House and making gains at the federal and state levels. This is especially true if the divisive Donald Trump is at the top of the GOP ticket; the former president unifies Democrats and alienates many moderate Republican and independent voters. Indeed, Republicans may either have to run with a presidential candidate convicted of serious federal and state crimes, or choose another candidate and watch Donald Trump destroy their party from the outside.
But Democrats also face a challenge in 2024: to avoid moving so far to the left they alienate the centrist voters who often decide national elections. Of course, Minnesota is a state with a strong progressive streak and it is unlikely that any Republican could win a statewide election. But, progressives like Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, could not win a national election.
The good news for Democrats, is that – of late – President Joe Biden has guided his administration to the political center.
These centrist moves include negotiating a bipartisan agreement to lift the debt ceiling, pushing for a strong national defense, allowing for a massive oil drilling project in Alaska, sending thousands of U.S. troops to our southern borders to stem the tide of illegal immigration, and supporting Congress’ efforts to rebuff the ultra-liberal Washington, D.C. City Council’s plan to reduce penalties for serious crimes like carjacking.
This White House strategy sends a clear message to voters that the president is not, and will not be a leader who placates the far-left.
Despite these efforts by the Biden administration, there are always progressive forces within the Democratic Party that try to move the party and nation to the far-left. One such agenda item of the far-left, is to speed the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by blocking the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks. In Minnesota, lawmakers are considering a policy to eliminate liquid fuels like gasoline to rapidly reduce emissions from transportation fuels.
To be clear, I don’t have any issues with people buying EVs. Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is important to slow the pace of climate change.
But EVs cost more than gas powered vehicles and don’t work as well in cold weather which is a concern in Minnesota. Therefore, it’s offensive to many low- and middle-income Americans struggling to make ends meet that they should be forced to pay more for an EV. Also, people who live in rural areas won’t have access to adequate charging stations for many years, if ever. With this in mind, an organization I am part of, to promote centrist policies among Democrats, did polling recently in Minnesota and across the nation.
Our results were clear: people support EVs but oppose banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles and don’t believe the government should prioritize – over things like building schools and better funding for police and fire resources – the building of public chargers.
Indeed, in every poll we took, from Minnesota, to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, it wasn’t just Republicans and independents who opposed banning gas-powered vehicles, it was a plurality of Biden supporters, too.
We performed this polling because all of those states, and even the federal government, have taken steps to seek to ban the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks. Politically speaking, we think this is a mistake.
Most importantly, Democrats should not let the EV issue be used against us, to show our party is out of touch with average Americans. After all, that is where Republicans are today. Conservative leaders avoid talking about policies to help working families, but focus on banning transgender athletes, blocking common-sense gun laws and criminalizing abortion – oftentimes even in the case of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother.
The election of 2024 could be a massive victory for Democrats in Minnesota and nationwide, as long as we avoid seeming out of touch because we are too far to the left. All signs are pointing in the right direction for Democrats, so it is critical to stay away from extremist policies like banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles.
Ronnie Shows is a board member of the Centrist Democrats of America and a former Mississippi congressman.