Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), is in hot water with progressives after he and 12 other Democrats voted against a measure to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, a measure put forward by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). Booker and the other Democrats defected to the Republican side to vote no. Booker claims that he voted that way out of concern for consumers. However, that is the same thing the drug industry uses.

Cory Booker misses opportunity to bridge divides

Much has been made of the urban-rural divide that propelled Donald Trump to win the Presidency.

Booker had an opportunity to bridge this divide. Elderly people, chiefly from rural areas, made up a significant portion of his votes. Many of these people need drugs they struggle to afford, an issue that the government has been dragging its feet on for decades. For some, that was the reason they voted Trump.

The 13 Democrats who broke ranks to side with Republicans missed a major opportunity to bridge this divide and rebuild the party brand. Instead of being able to victoriously go home and say they've brought affordable drugs to their voters, they gave Republicans a way out, or at the absolute least, force Trump and his supporters into a major corner, This was a chance to make Republicans the bad guys and make them explain why they voted for higher drug prices.

However, Booker and company snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by siding with Republicans on a major healthcare issue.

Booker's vote highlight of larger problem

The big difference between Republican and Democratic voters is that Republicans get what they vote for. Democratic voters constantly have to wonder if the person they voted for to advance liberal ideas will turn tail and side with Republicans.

Democratic leaders excuse this as trying to be "bi-partisan" or trying to "compromise." Many old-school leaders say things like "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good". Which doesn't help when you're struggling to pay for something like epilepsy medication, and you see Booker, someone who may try to run against Trump in 2020, side with Republicans and torpedo something that could make that medication more affordable.

Democrats constantly siding with Republicans at pivotal moments has dogged the party for a long time. This is what propelled Bernie Sanders' rise. This is also what tanked Hillary Clinton. Her early support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her husband's past support of trade agreements likely sank her with blue-collar voters in the Midwest. Her actions as Secretary of State that helped get us involved in other international conflicts didn't help turn out the anti-war vote either.

Trying to chase after moderates by being the softer version of the right-wing party has never been an effective strategy. Democrats have tried this for 30 years. The only times it works is when Republicans drop the ball such as when George Bush Sr. had to back out of his "no new taxes" pledge. Booker and company need to start acting like Democrats if they want their base to vote for them.