Shortly after the 2018 Congressional elections, second-guessing of Democratic electoral success began with a few snide Republican pundits.  Then the critics grew to include to a few malcontent Democrats.  Then critics of the Democratic party grew to include so-called liberal institutions like the Center for American Progress.  Today, critics are everywhere.

And all these critics sing from the same dismal hymnbook.  All express what sounds like earnest concern for the well-being of the Democratic party. All have suddenly become fearful that “dangerous” liberal tendencies in the Democratic party, will cost Democrats the 2020 election.  The critics within this strange alliance of Republicans and bedfellow Democrats are urging caution.  They want Democrats to be fearful instead of feared, timid instead of intimidating, cowed instead of empowered.  They want Democrats to boldly adopt their version of old-fashioned political moderation.  No Bernie. No AOC. No Kamala.  No Elizabeth Warren. No Mayor Pete, no Medicare for All.  In sum, all these critics are selling “fear. Come 2020, critics want Democrats to go down fighting for political moderation.

These conservative columnists, centrists and media voices are making arguments that sounds like genuine selfless concern for the Democratic party.  Democrats, they say, have endangered their 2020 election prospects because of their recent tack to the left of the political center in American politics.   Deception works.  Many Democrats and media voices have already bought into “fear.”  They have second-guessed the extraordinary Democratic victories of 2018 as a victory for political moderation.  As a consequence, they now shy away from the idea of a genuinely progressive populist Democratic candidate and agenda.  They prefer Hilary mode candidates as the alternative to Trump, They prefer candidates satisfied with Obamacare – who do not see the need to fight for Medicare for All.

But that is not the whole story.  What’s really going on here is that influential conservative voices and the political and corporate power structure, Republicans and Democrats alike, are deceptively trying to revive a once reliable, money focused, boring, politically correct Democratic party; a political party intimidated by the GOP and influenced by quasi-Democrats who enjoy deep ties to deep and entrenched political money.  These special interest critics are rooting for the return of their once willing partner and accomplice – a Democratic party that knows how to return a favor to big money donors.  As did Bill Clinton to the banking industry with his so-called bank “reforms” which, in turn, gave us the Great Recession;  as did Clinton once again to the auto industry, with his middle-America job killing NAFTA; as Obama did with TPP, his job-killing Asian version of NAFTA; or the money-grubbing likes of Democratic, Senators Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman, two wholly owned subsidiaries of the health insurance industry who stand in the first rank of history’s sleazy Democratic saboteurs of universal healthcare.  That, is the real story.

So how should the American people respond to these critics peddling fear, aka, political moderation, aka, no universal healthcare?    Do we go forward with a progressive Democratic party – the kind of political party that gave us LBJ’s civil rights laws and Medicare and FDR’s labor laws and Social Security. Or do we allow fear to freeze us in place?

The answer is mixed. First and above all, let us take note of FDR’s timeless response to the fear-mongering critics of his Social Security: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 

Then move forward to Medicare for All.