Bernie Rally, Speaking

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to his supporters during the rally held in Rec Hall on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

With such a crowded Democratic primary field in the upcoming 2020 election, the word 'electability' has become the buzzword of choice when describing candidates and their suitability to hold the office.

But the word, however prevalent it's become, takes on many different meanings depending on the candidates being described.

For instance, progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are often deemed 'unelectable' by pundits and prominent party officials.

But let's examine why that might be.

First and foremost, Warren and Sanders challenge the status quo with many of their positions, such as Medicare for All, advocating for big, structural change and fighting for some variation of the Green New Deal.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of many of these positions among the general public, many Democratic Party elites and members of the Democratic National Committee caution Warren and Sanders about running too far to the left.

So while many people support these positions, for some reason, when a person in power who has a big platform does it, it suddenly becomes an 'unelectable' move.

It's no secret that many of these politicians aren't interested in governing, and are more interested in power and the impressive sums of money that come with it.

These progressive changes would significantly limit their power and influence because if policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All were implemented, it would reduce the influence of fossil fuel executives and the healthcare industry, thus cutting off the funding for many of these politicians.

There is a flipside to the electability argument too though.

As much I and others would prefer a liberal message be articulated, if you look at the 'blue wave' that occurred in 2018, many of the Democrats who flipped seats previously held by Republicans are members of the centrist New Democrat Coalition or the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and were integral to the Democrats retaking the United States House of Representatives.

That's certainly a compelling case to be made for moderation.

However, on the flip side of that, many districts only saw moderate or 'establishment' Democrats run, and so voters in those districts weren't given real, progressive choices.

Take my home district, NJ-5, for example.

Roughly 54 percent of my district is in a county that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won by roughly 14 percentage points — and yet my representative, Josh Gottheimer, is one of the more conservative members of the House Democratic Caucus, voting with Trump the fifth most times of any Democrat.

This year, he luckily has a progressive primary challenger, so voters are given more of a choice, and a real progressive to hear from.

In many of these districts, it's thought that a progressive can't win. But if people aren't given progressive choices, that's an assumption made in bad faith.

Obviously I believe more Democrats in Congress are better than less, but it remains to be seen what the best path is toward increasing that number going forward.

One thing is certain though — 'electability' is very much circumstance dependent.

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