Tuesday’s Democratic debate highlighted how the left’s divide between socialism and pragmatism in 2016 is still alive and well in the 2020 presidential primary. This policy schism — as Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel have noted — empowers President Donald Trump, who enjoys the stability of a unified Republican Party and the power of incumbency.

Trump also benefits from most Americans’ staunch opposition to liberal policies like free health insurance for immigrants with no legal right to be here  and eliminating private health insurance.

More practical candidates on the stage, like Gov. Steve Bullock, former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Tim Ryan tried to be voices of reason on issues like health care, immigration, student loans and the “Green New Deal,” but the aggressive pushback from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren shows how the 2020 Democratic primary could easily become just as bruising as it was in 2016.   

Moderates like Rep. John Delaney called for consumer choice. He warned against pursuing an “anti-private sector strategy” in health care that could bankrupt rural providers and making “impossible promises that will turn off independent voters.” Yet he was knocked back by leftists onstage like Marianne Williamson who dismissed the more centrist candidates: “I almost wonder why you’re Democrats.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the US economy has added over 500,000 manufacturing jobs since President Trump took office and wage gains on an annual basis have been above 3% for 16 of the past 18 months. Ryan correctly noted that the far left often bashes petro-and coal-based industries, yet workers in these fields are the backbone of America’s economy — which has added more than 47,000 auto manufacturing jobs since Trump was elected.

It’s no wonder that Middle America rejected liberal policies like those of Hillary Clinton, who declared, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” While she — and others tonight — quickly tried to amend her statement by saying she would re-train those coal workers, the damage was already done. It’s no surprise that Clinton said that statement was the one she regretted the most in 2016. 

It appears the 2020 Democrats have learned nothing, allowing conservatives to step into this leadership void to offer market-based solutions for reducing emissions and lowering energy costs. 

In his remarks Tuesday, Hickenlooper called for "evolution, not revolution,” however, the Democratic base doesn’t seem to agree with him. They are likely in for a bitter surprise when America’s common-sense voters reject policies that would expand government at unsustainable levels.