What’s Next for the Democratic Party?
The Resistance Movement is shifting into a new phase, moving from “mobilizing” grass-roots sentiment alone to seriously “organizing” for electoral success. In other words, “flipping” Congress from blue to red in 2018, which, in our two-party system, means from Republicans to Democrats.
This is a tall order, because the Democratic Party, at all levels, needs to resolve the identity crisis that divides it into two wings (“Establishment” and “Progressive”) that fight each other, and unite around an economic and moral vision that will address the common issues of ALL working and middle class Americans if there is to be a good chance at victory.
Three recent political thought pieces are worth reflecting on in this regard:
First, a series of commentaries in The Guardian under the heading “Civil War has Broken Out Inside the Democratic Party” that helps understand the whole historical context. It’s the story of how the post-New Deal “liberal consensus” has eroded, how economic disparity in the U.S. is coming to resemble conditions in the 1920s, and how Democrats need to reclaim the shared liberal philosophical and economic policy territory that once united them.
Second, ahard-hitting piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times titled “Donald Skunks the Democrats” in which she talks about an upcoming article in the Atlantic by Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed. That longer article, “How the Democrats Can Take Back Congress” argues that Democrats need to “stop obsessing about Trump and Russia, and start obsessing about globalization, automation and wage stagnation.”
Third, a video of Bernie Sanders in Pittsburgh this weekend delivering a passionate and eloquent speech about how the Republican healthcare bill is a moral outrage. It powerfully links the healthcare issue to the continuing overall Republican agenda of shifting resources from the poor and middle class to the rich.
It’s time for those of us on the liberal and progressive left to get serious! It’s time for the so-called “Bernie crowd” and the so-called “Establishment crowd” to bury their differences and come up with a vision that can ignite broad-based enthusiasm for the Democratic Party among the many working and middle class segments of our diverse and suffering society who should be the Democratic Party’s natural constituency.
[This piece was originally written on June 25, 2017]