Evidence continues to mount that our system of primary elections is pushing the Democratic Party into a corner, away from the center of the ring. This occurs because the “disinterested middle” that acts as a flywheel on the basic direction of the country tends not to participate in our primary elections. This leaves the field — and the selection of candidates — to the more engaged, partisan, and passionate voters who show up to vote in the primaries.
While this phenomenon occurs in both of our major political parties, it affects them very differently. These days, the passion in the Republican Party revolves around a farrago of nationalism, small-l libertarianism, a distrust of government as a provider of “solutions,” and indeed a distrust of “solutions” in general… with a sizable dose of pro-life sentiment thrown in. By contrast, the passion in the Democratic Party is almost pure leftism. It’s big-government authoritarianism wearing a Happy Face mask. Many Democratic elected officials now proudly call themselves Socialists, and we’re even hearing the word Communist used as something other than an epithet.
Democrats of course still want to label all the Republicans as right-wingers, but in fact there is nothing particularly right-wing about the people who are voting in Republican primaries and thus selecting the Republican candidates. They aren’t especially pro-business. They certainly aren’t war mongers. They aren’t even all that fiscally conservative. They simply defy the usual stereotypes that Democrats use to visualize people who aren’t Democrats.
To the extent that Republicans want to label the Democrats as left-wingers, the Democrats seem happy to oblige. It is clear now from the stunning upsets we’re seeing in the Democratic primaries that the passion on that side of the aisle is for disbanding police forces, the wholesale release of prisoners, opening the borders to all comers, positively totalitarian speech codes to stifle all dissent, and a massive expansion of government in the direction of Socialism and even Communism. Many long-time Democratic officeholders seem stunned by what their own primary voters are now demanding of them. Those who don’t get the message, or who choose to ignore it, are increasingly being “primaried” in favor of up-and-coming members of The Squad.
It’s a mistake to think that this is something new, or that it has come on suddenly. It’s just that the water is now starting to get hot enough that we’re seeing some of the frogs jumping out of the pot.
At 77, Joe Biden may well be the last Democratic presidential nominee who came up through the ranks before the Democratic primaries started their serious turn to the left. Virtually everyone coming along behind him has had to pass through an “eye of the needle” primary system that started at “liberal” in the 1990s and has been drifting leftward ever since. Although they are not as vocally nutty about it as AOC and Ilhan Omar, there are some very serious leftists among Democratic politicians as old as Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. The generations coming along behind them — think Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg — are almost certainly too far left to be elected President in the United States. They have their Districts, and they have their States, but the kind of overweening government that they represent is just not what people want across the fruited plain.
The Democrats don’t know this, and they don’t see it coming. The Democrats in the Blue Media, the Democrats in elected office, and the 30-odd percent of the voters who are their biggest fans are all locked up together in the same media bubble. They think their views are shared by a large majority of the American voters. They think defunding the police, establishing American Socialism, and making everyone who disagrees shut up under penalty of law, will bring them great success at the ballot box. After all, it works in AOC’s district.