I’m reading a liberal blog this week, and the topic of the day is, Obama has failed us, betrayed us, Hillary is about to do the same, maybe we don’t need the Democratic Party anymore.
And here it begins.
Republicans have been imploding for 15 years as their moderate and Tea Party wings have engaged in open warfare against each other. Looks like Democrats are about to do the same, with the centrist and liberal-progressive wings ready to claw each other to death.
The problem on both sides is that the ideological purists don’t think their cohorts who work toward the middle are authentic enough. Which wouldn’t be that much of an issue, except that the purists control the party nomination process and also largely control the respective blogospheres and echo chambers.
Think about it. The centrists, by makeup, aren’t rabid, being the sensible types who do silly things like, you know, talking with people on the other side of the spectrum, listening to their ideas, considering where there might be common ground, even working with them when the situation presents itself.
None of which lends itself toward getting people fired up mad about whatever people need to get fired up mad about to get them to do things.
Democrats thought they had one of their own in Barack Obama, a scholar-turned-community organizer with a light track record in politics before he ran for president in 2008. “Change,” and all that. Then Obama turned out to be Republican-lite, modeling his healthcare reform on a conservative think-tank plan from the early 1990s, doubling down on Iraq and Afghanistan, sitting idly by while the CIA eavesdropped on citizens, allies and everybody else.
With Obama’s approval ratings not quite in George W. Bush freefall, but still in the seventh-year damper, Democrats were nonetheless the odds-on favorites to retain the White House in 2016, with the economy growing 5 percent per quarter as one key, the other being that Republicans are still not done knifing each other.
Obama beat two moderates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, in his presidential runs in 2008 and 2012, and the Tea Partiers have done their part to remind their fellow ideologues that the party ran to the middle twice and still lost. Meaning the 2016 cycle will be a mad dash to the far right, even as we all know that the farther a party runs to the extreme, the less likely it is to have a chance in a general.
Not if liberal-progressive Democrats push Clinton to the far left, or go all the way and nominate progressive champion Elizabeth Warren.
All other things being equal, a far left candidate is going to lose, and lose spectacularly, to a far right candidate, after eight years of a wearying left-of-center presidency.
And then the real bloodletting on the left will begin, as the centrist and liberal-progressive wings try to make sense of what happened, and fight it out like Democrats did in the 1980s and early 1990s during the Reagan-Bush era, and like Republicans have been doing since Bill Clinton, really.
(You’re well aware that W. lost the 2000 election and was only sworn in because of the Supreme Court. OK.)
What the political scientists like to call a political realignment could be what we’re seeing here, and it would be interesting to witness, with demographic trends otherwise suggesting that the next generation of American politics should be Democratic-leaning, except for the fact that Democrats would have pissed their chance at a generational majority away for being too fat and happy on the way to dooming themselves to minority status.
– Column by Chris Graham