With hyped Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — not to mention rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — advocating for more and more progressive stances on government, the 2020 election is bringing socialism to the forefront like never before.
But Democratic Presidential candidate John Delaney believes this leftward turn is bad for his party as it takes on Donald Trump.
The first question he answered at this evening’s CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, dealt with the Democratic Party’s left turn and his belief of going against the grain. “I do worry that if we embrace socialism in its pure form,” he said, “that’s a mistake.”
Delaney was speaking at a half-full ACL Live in downtown Austin, to a crowd far smaller than Warren and Ocasio-Cortez saw at events yesterday. The approximately 500 people in attendance came up with questions that CNN screened in advance.
He was followed by candidate Tulsi Gabbard, a 37-year-old Hawaii Congresswoman, who was more ambiguous discussing socialism. Whereas Delaney called himself a capitalist, Gabbard refused to use what she called “labels.”
“I’m an independent-minded person. I’m a Democrat,” she said to loud cheers from the crowd. “My sole focus is to find how we can best serve the people of this country.”
As for Delaney, he expanded upon his socialist comments by saying he did believe in social programs and advocates for universal healthcare. He talked about how scholarship programs from his father’s union and other benefits aided him while he grew up. He wants similar institutions to be strengthened for America today.
But Delaney, who has been running for President since July 2017, made clear he doesn’t want to go to the same lengths as the better-known, more-progressive candidates. He dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and bragged about his bipartisanship, noting he was the 3rd-most bipartisan Congressman during his tenure as a Maryland Representative from 2013 to 2019.
His middle-of-the-road comments garnered polite applause from the audience but none of the near-rockstar treatment some of Democratic party’s more progressive figures are accustomed to. Delaney is not AOC, Warren or Sanders, and he was unapologetic about touting his centrist platform, even as he slammed Trump.
Asked about the most damaging thing Trump has done during his presidency, Delaney said the president’s “lack of a moral compass” was the worst.
“For the American people, what he’s done is degraded the standards in our society,” he said. “The fear-mongering, his noting that your enemy is your fellow American — I think that is so corrosive and so damaging… I think what a president should do is bring people together.”