Rahm is right.
The Democrats are in a leftward lurch that could ruin their chances of retaking the White House.
Rahm Emanuel, now stepping down after two terms as mayor of Chicago, knows something about winning elections. He was a key White House operative for Bill Clinton and chief of staff for Barack Obama.
It was Rahm, as chairman of the Democratic campaign committee, who engineered the party's takeover of the House in 2006 — and is known for his hardball brand of politics, with all the subtlety of his frequent F-bombs.
If Mayor Emanuel believes the Democrats are in danger of self-destructing, as he argues in a piece for the Atlantic, his party might want to pay attention.
I've been arguing that the Democrats, who regained control of the House in November mainly on the strength of more moderate candidates, are increasingly being defined by their most extreme members.
Just look at the last few weeks, and the stances embraced by some of its presidential contenders and younger members: Slavery reparations. Green New Deal. Medicare for All. Free college tuition. A 70 percent tax rate on income over $10 million. Break up Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Is that how they win back Trump Democrats in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?
Add to that various self-inflicted wounds, such as delaying and then watering down a resolution to denounce Rep. Ilhan Omar after her latest anti-Semitic comments, and you've got a party with a problem. (President Trump went way overboard in saying the Democrats have become "an anti-Jewish party" and telling donors that "the Democrats hate Jewish people," given that perhaps three-quarters of Jews vote Democratic. But he was seizing on an opening.)
At the South by Southwest conference, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered the standard left-wing critique of capitalism by saying that "we're reckoning with the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society." But she added that "to me capitalism is irredeemable," the kind of sound bite that goes viral, given the enormous media attention she attracts.
And on "Morning Joe" the other day, 2020 contender John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, repeatedly refused to call himself a capitalist. When did that become a dirty Democratic word?
In the Atlantic, Emanuel says Trump could win over swing voters by constantly branding the Democrats as socialists.
"The last thing we should do is serve him slow pitches over the plate that allow him to define us on his terms. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Democrats have been doing since he went before Congress in early February. It’s almost as if we've been duped into reading from his ready-made script.
"Earth to Democrats: Republicans are telling you something when they gleefully schedule votes on proposals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and a 70 percent marginal tax rate. When they're more eager to vote on the Democratic agenda than we are, we should take a step back and ask ourselves whether we're inadvertently letting the political battle play out on their turf rather than our own. If Trump's only hope for winning a second term turns on his ability to paint us as socialists, we shouldn't play to type."
He's not pulling punches.
While saying the party shouldn't abandon its core priorities, Rahm says Democrats and independents are so desperate to win that they'll support a candidate who doesn't agree with them on everything, as long as that person is seen as able to win.
"So the ideological debates often shroud what voters really want — a nominee capable of standing steady and strong as Trump tries to bully his way into an Election Night victory. The president's low approval ratings suggest that, if he wins a second term, Democrats will have no one to blame but ourselves."