November 4, 2021

Despite what party centrists are arguing, Democrats worried about 2022 should just do what voters want, says Daily Beast columnist Max Burns.

The worst thing that could happen is for the party’s conservatives to read McAuliffe’s loss as a sign that Americans are turned off by the Democratic agenda. They're not.

While McAuliffe may have been hoisted by his own overconfidence in Virginia, lawmakers heading home to their districts in 2022 will face their own reckoning. There’s one simple trick to averting a Democratic bloodbath next year: Do what voters say they want. A Vox/Data for Progress poll conducted last month found 71 percent of voters support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and 60 percent support Biden’s signature spending plan at the full $3.5 trillion. These aren’t mere “suggestion” numbers — they’re supermajorities. Democrats ignore those clearly stated wishes at their own electoral peril.

Passing a robust domestic spending program and moving quickly to advance a voting rights package is the minimum Democrats can do to show they are acting on Biden’s lofty campaign promises. Those are also two key areas where conservative Democrats—not progressives—are opposed to the consensus within both their own party and their own country. For all their complaining about making Build Back Better work for “regular Americans,” voters want a deal that looks much more like Pramilla Jayapal’s than Joe Manchin’s.

In a moment of party panic, Manchin wants Democrats to believe that the way to please voters angry over the lack of a big Biden spending bill is to make that spending bill even smaller and potentially kill it entirely. The opposite is true, and Biden’s continued support for Jayapal’s progressives during negotiations heavily implies the White House agrees. Instead of spending months dissecting what is ultimately an unfortunate but not unexpected outcome in Virginia, Democrats should return to work prepared to pass an agenda that actually resembles their 2020 platform. Joe Manchin won’t be happy.

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