Steve Deace: Jerry Crawford of Iowa holds Democrats in his hands

One man, whose name you’ve likely never heard before, may determine which path the Democratic Party in Iowa — and beyond — chooses to go in the future.

That name is Jerry Crawford.

Crawford, a prominent Des Moines attorney, has been a powerbroker for Iowa Democrats for decades. He's associated with Iowa Caucus winners from Walter Mondale in 1984 to Hillary Clinton in 2016. With the exception of the force of nature that was Barack Obama in 2008, Crawford is rarely on the losing horse.

MAYOR PETE SURGING IN IOWA

However, though undoubtedly more liberal than I am, Crawford is also an avid sports fan with plenty of friends and associates on the other side of the aisle. During my time in local media here in Iowa, I crossed swords with moderate Republicans afraid I was driving the party too far right, more than I ever did with Crawford. He comes from an era when sharing a country with folks like me wasn’t a distasteful prospect to the Democrat Party.

Until now.

The present generation of Democrats has devolved from liberal to leftist. A liberal is someone who wants government to permit you to do the things God says are stupid and immoral, but a leftist wants government to compel you to do them. If you try to abstain, as Erick Erickson has said, “You will be made to care.” Moral neutrality, or "live and let live," is rapidly leaving today’s Democrats. It's been replaced by tolerance for me but not for thee.

Unless you’re a hard-left Democrat, every time you turn onto "Tolerance Boulevard," you’ll find it’s a one-way street.

The Crawford I’ve known and covered doesn’t fit with the rest of the Democrat field as it moves harder left.

Crawford is an old-school, pro-labor Democrat who doesn’t fit the Ilhan Omar-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ”bake the cake bigot” triumvirate rapidly taking over the party’s mainstream. Knowing Crawford, he shares Hillary Clinton’s lament when she said “being a capitalist probably hurt me” with the emerging leftist base. Crawford is a lot of things, many of them friendly, but he’s definitely not a Bernie Bro.

He’s a wealthy competitive horse owner, more at home with a Mitch McConnell than the Berkeley faculty meeting preferred by the rising red tide in the Democrat Party. So how he’ll navigate this Iowa Caucus could be both telling and decisive. And not just for Democrats in Iowa, but nationwide.

Joe Biden would’ve fit Crawford’s traditional profile, before he started the ridiculous, pandering attacks on the “white man’s culture” Biden himself embodies. He still might fit, if Crawford wants to engage and hold on to any semblance of a party interested in competing for the American suburban mainstream — if only because Biden might be Crawford’s only option where that’s concerned.

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That's especially true with the Democrats’ suburban hope, Beto O’Rourke, attacking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. O'Rourke is also clamoring to remove what little "wall" currently exists on the southern border because it forces illegals to take “a longer journey” to enter our country. (I’m not joking.)

The Crawford I’ve known and covered doesn’t fit with the rest of the Democrat field as it moves harder left. Which means if Crawford decides to align with, say, a Kamala Harris-type, that means the writing is most definitely on the wall. Moderation, once and for all, has been weighed, measured, and found wanting in the socialist Democratic Party.