Diary

It's Bernie's Democratic Party Now

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his wife Jane Sanders, wave after a campaign rally Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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As the 2018 primary season kicked into gear, a strange thing happened in the Democratic Party.  While most pundits were focusing on the so-called anti-establishment “extremists” in the GOP like Roy Moore and Don Blankenship, the same thing was happening on the Democratic side.  In the early primaries, these Democratic insurgents were winning primary battles.  By the time the California primary came around, the Democratic Party establishment had to spend more than $7 million in order to get their preferred candidates over the finish line.  The reason was simple: the prognosticators were already downgrading Democratic chances in November given the more leftist views of those who were winning the early primaries.

The problem for the Democrats may not be new, but its urgency may be.  There is a lot of animosity left over from the 2016 election.  Bernie Sanders went toe-to-toe to the end with the establishment anointed Hillary Clinton.  It was the Democratic super-delegates who kept Sanders at bay, but in these midterm primaries, there are no super-delegates.  It is often noted that the Democratic Party cannot win an election without the support of the more leftist elements within the party.  But it is becoming even more obvious that the Democrats cannot now win with the more leftist elements.

According to exit polling data,  liberals make up 26% of the voters.  This is well behind conservatives at 35% and moderates at 39%.  The 26% figure is the high water mark in 2016 and that was after eight years of Obama advancing the liberal agenda.

Of course, they positively spin these numbers but there is no denying the fact that liberals still make up only about a quarter of all voters.  To reach an electoral majority, they need twice that number and if it didn’t happen after eight years of Obama, it isn’t happening now.  The problem for the Democratic Party is how to win when America’s voting minority becomes your Party’s majority.

In order to form an electoral majority, success depends on winning over the center.  Both liberals and conservatives need them.  One can argue that the left is as far from the center as the right is as far from the center, but here’s the kicker: the right needs less moderates because they have the advantage to start.

Thus, there is this tendency of the electorate as a whole to distance itself from “the left.”  So what is a party to do?  They rebrand leftist rhetoric and policies as “progressive.”  By doing so, they tacitly admit the weakness of the left, but seem to make it sound positive.   And it taps nicely into American innovation- America is “progressing.”  It also labels conservatives as “regressive” without saying as much.

However, the label is a huge disservice to the term “progress” since the leftist/progressive agenda is anything but new.  Or successful.  It boils down to the redistribution of societal resources.  By moving them, the left channels these resources not only from where they were, but more importantly from where they were used most productively.  Done as a single program, like Obamacare, they can linger for some time.  When done on a societal basis, the result is utter disaster.  As proof, see the former USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.

The Democratic Party cannot be faulted for trying to get the most out of what they have the most of.  But there is no mistaking the fact that in 2018, the more leftist elements in the Democratic Party are flexing their electoral muscles.  Whether it is an avowed socialist in an extremely liberal New York congressional district easily taking out the heir apparent to Nancy Pelosi, or former NAACP director Ben Jealous winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Maryland or Jared Polis, one of the most liberal Democratic Congressmen winning the Democratic nod for Governor in Colorado, the trend is obvious.

In national and state level races, the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed 13 candidates at the state or federal level.  Of those 13 candidates, seven were victorious.  Some are obviously more radical than others, but when you have a sitting Democratic Senator (Kamala Harris) openly questioning the role of ICE, one can see where the strings are pulling.  When the DNC names people like Keith Ellison (who since resigned) and Thomas Perez as their leaders, the trend is obvious.  There are 75 members of the House Progressive Caucus, or 39% of all Democrats in the House.

Leaving aside the recent announcement of the retirement of Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up as one of the most important midterm elections in recent history.  Most of those members listed as part of the House Progressive Caucus come from safe districts and they will be returned to Congress.  But in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Colorado and perhaps other areas, it is important that the march of the socialist element in the Democratic Party be stopped in its tracks.  If the Democrats can’t do it, then the adults in the room (Republicans and conservatives) must step in.