By Michael Jay Tucker
There was an interesting article over on the Washington Post last week, “First-time, liberal candidates are flooding the Democratic primaries,” by Kevin Schaul and Kevin Uhrmacher. It seems, say the authors, that hundreds (maybe thousands) of liberals are entering the Democratic primaries. For the first time in a long while, it seems, the moderate-left-center-right orientation of the party is being seriously challenged.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am, myself, involved in this. I have been working in support of several first timers, people who have never run for office, but who are doing so now as Liberals taking on far less Left opponents in the Democratic Party. (Right now, for instance, I’m working for a friend, Karen Bash, who is running for the state legislature here in New Mexico.)
But what interests me about the piece in the Post is two things. First, the article notes that we’ve seen this before, but on the right. In 2010, the GOP was similarly overwhelmed by first timers, but from the far right of the spectrum. That’s what led, six years later, to Trump in the White House, and a good deal of other unpleasant things Thus, you might argue (but I won’t) that a similar process in the Democratic Party, shifting it to the Left, is not a good thing, but rather simply further polarizes our already fragmented political system.
I suppose that might be true, but it is hard for me to think that things could get much worse than they are. The GOP is already dominated by right-wing fanatics and oligarchs who have more or less openly declared war on the rest of us. If the other party in the system should be a bit more radical, well, what difference would that really make.
What, however, I find much more interesting is the question of how the Democratic Party elites will react to this leftward shift. How, I wonder, will the DNC, the DCCC, and all the rest deal with the newcomers. I’m guessing…not well. I’m guessing that we’re seeing the beginning of a real struggle for the soul of the party, with on one side the people who are quite happy with the way things are, and on the other, everyone else—particularly the younger voters who were Bernie supporters.
And I’m guessing, too, that eventually the Party establishment will get rather nasty about it—or, maybe, they already have gotten nasty. Think about the purge of Bernie Bros and Sanders Sisters, that seems to have gone on in the power centers of the party. Think, too, hove little attention the DNC et al seem to be paying to the vast and growing resistance movement. When was the last time you heard of an establishment Democrat reaching out to MoveOn or Indivisible, much less OurRevolution?
Which makes me worry. This is not a winning strategy on the part of the Party elites. It does them no good to ignore the most energetic among them, particularly since many of those energetic people are quite young, and are perforce the future.
All if which is to suggest that in the end, we may have a serious conflict on our hands.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the DNC et al will eventually accommodate the inevitable. I hope that, eventually, the Partly leadership will realize that it must go Left, that it must learn to value something like social democracy and economic nationalism, and that it must somehow get along without the largess of lobbyists and global corporations. I hope that it will realize that it must somehow reach out to the young and the dissatisfied, and bring them into itself.
But, I worry. For there’s the rub. The powers that be are strong…and not eager to bend. And I’m put, alas, in mind of the line about another family of fallen kings, the Bourbons, who (it was said) forgave nothing…
And learned nothing.
And suffered because of it.