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Democratic Party

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The previous logo (an ass a donkey)
The Democratic Party's logo as of September 2010
Guide to:

U.S. Politics

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Hail to the Chief?
Persons of interest

It is quite certain that a moderate Republican will be nominated to stand as his party's candidate for the presidency. His name is Barack Obama.
—Some damn Canucks[1]
Remember back when Democrats used to vote with us?
—Leo McGarry, The West Wing

The Democratic Party is a center-left party in the United States. Widely perceived to be left-wing in the American political spectrum, it's best to think of it as a decentralized tent of centrist to center-right factions who can't agree on virtually anything. "Democrats are divided!" has been a running joke in the party for decades. Put two Democrats in a room and you'll get three heated opinions. Republicans have historically bragged about being a "Big Tent" precisely because they could unify seemingly conflicted interest groups, while Democrats scramble to keep people who are allegedly on the same team from voting them down.[2]

Democrats ruled Texas the same way they ruled the big-city north. The "Southern Democrats" were a pro-segregationist sect which in no way reflects the Democrats of today. Then came the Southern Strategy, and those same supporters switched to the Republican party. Goldwater ran in 1964, the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed—not exactly a huge time gap going on here.

When Republicans lose, they run to the right. Reagan was the product of the Goldwater Revolution, and at least in the short term it worked. The reason why it works is because it excites people and gets them out to vote, gets them to phone bank, face bank or whatever bank. GOP has been using this strategy for years (see the Eagle Forum). The Democrats did not turn to the left for answers, they ran to the middle. From '68-a ridiculous amount of time the Democrats ran to the left, mostly because they had controlled congress for so long that they thought they could do whatever they wanted. But when they lose, they will always run to the middle.


[edit] A short history

The electoral college from the 1860 presidential election, only months before the American Civil War. Compare to today.

The successor to the Democratic-Republican Party,[3] the Democrats historically acted as the more populist party, as opposed to the mercantilist Whigs and later the industrial Republicans. At the same time, however, it was rooted in many socially and economically conservative views, notably being anti-Second Bank (Andrew Jackson), anti-tariff (e.g. the Bourbons) and supporting and upholding slavery (later segregation). There was a class distinction: many traced their roots back to the hillbillies and moonshiners of the Whiskey Rebellion[wp] who resented the taxes and control the rich plantation owners of Virginia and Maryland, like the Lee Family[wp] or George Washington and other founding fathers, imposed on them.

The party began to move to the left in two major shifts, starting with Woodrow Wilson in the 1910s and Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression; the latter was maintained by the "New Deal Coalition," a combination of urban constituents, immigrants, intellectuals, organized labour, farmers, whites from the Solid South — and for the first time, African Americans — all of whom agreed on more government intervention in the economy but not much about anything else.[4]

These differences reached their apex in the 1960s with increasing anti-war sentiment and the passage of the Civil Rights Act (among other issues during the countercultural revolution). Tricky Dick took advantage of this using the so-called "Southern strategy," which flipped the entire American political sphere on its backside — almost every single southern seat defected to the GOP, turning the blue Bible Belt red. The remaining liberal Republicans,[5] noticing the appeal to racist sentiment, fled to the Democrats, settling the party into its current centrist, prehaps centre-right, position and thus making the former refuge of Confederates the heir to Lincoln's North.[6] (Lincoln can be a modern conservative or a classical liberal, whichever is convenient for you.[7][8][9])

Following the rise of Saint Ronnie (peace be upon Him), this right-wing realignment continued to strengthen, leaving progressive policies difficult to implement and leading to an increasing amount of disenfranchised voters. As of the early 21st century, the consequences of this are very clear.

[edit] Love Me, I'm a Liberal

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy. … Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.
—Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time

America doesn't really have a two party system, and certainly doesn't even have the appearance of one, unlike in Tip O'Neill's day (he opposed the Republicans on substantial economic issues). Bill Clinton and his "New" Democrats did away with all that by sticking a knife in the back of labor, though in truth the process began when Nixon went to China to open up its labor camps and sweatshops borders to American corporations. As it is the Democrats seem hell bent on treating the white working class as if they were expendable. (Both parties actually have that problem, hence the rise of Trump and Sanders.) Bill Clinton's popularity masked and covered up a lot of the problems that were bubbling just under the surface, eroding the Democrat base bit by bit until only the west coast and New England were left.

As for partisanship, things were united for pretty much the first time ever in the wake of 9/11, but between The PATRIOT Act and Iraq, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Enron and Goldman Sachs, that unity shattered very quickly. This was just a naked power grab by the neocons, trying to make the world safe for commerce and democracy. Senator Byrd gave a stirring speech, which sums up the position of the anti-war movement as they marched in the streets, drawing very large crowds; they were snubbed by Pelosi and Reid. (Reason: The Democratic presidential aspirants—Clinton, Obama, Biden—didn’t want America to 'lose' the war courtesy of the Democrats.) They bought the ranch next to Bush's; they were ignored. Ultimately enough people gave up and the anti-war movement, which started during Vietnam, was crushed by indifference.[10]

The Democrats' reward? Perceived now as fraudulent and warmongering, their standing in the polls as low as Republicans'. Obama ran slightly to the left of Clinton, and was elected on "I didn't vote for Iraq like Hillary". When he finally voted in a tax plan which preserved some of the Bush tax cuts but also prevented a massive tax hike on lower income levels, Keith Olbermann took to the airwaves and started calling the President "Obush". Much like the 2016 election, the media's desperate need to gain eyes through hyperbole caused a perceived integrity deficit in the Democratic leadership

[edit] The center cannot hold

Republicans cannot deliver the knockout blow to the Democrats because Democrats are already lying on the mat unconscious. 2010 was mostly a reaction to Obamacare being passed. A lot of blue-dog Democrats lost their careers due to voting for the ACA. 2014 was due mostly to Democrats not really being into voting in the mid-terms. (It's the Achilles Heel: Dems tend to focus on national elections for the White House and slack off in the mid-term years, while the GOP doesn't.) Sure, the president usually loses seats in midterms, but 2010 and 2014 were exceptionally bad, some of the worst ever. You can hardly say they were average midterm loses when republicans gained their largest house majority in nearly a century.

The Republicans want to impeach anyone and everyone they dislike or disagree with. Just look at Barack HUSSEIN Obama; in fact, 11 states (all Republican govs) are impeaching him over bathrooms.[11] They have a laundry list of "unconstitutional" things Obama is doing and laws he is breaking, and every time the motion gets shot down they just move on to the next item.[12] It will not have been any different with Hillary; she would be constantly threatened with impeachment. It's really one of the few plays the Rs run.

As expected, the Sanders campaign gave a voice to a growing progressive wing in the Democratic party; he's recently been moving to down-ticket ballots to help like-minded progressive candidates.[note 1] On the other hand, the endorsement is pretty much all that Sanders is offering. There is no organized effort by his supporters, no plans for snagging local and state-level positions in the party, and Sanders and his base are doing very little to find like-minded people who could run for office down-ballot. Hillary's concessions to Senator Sanders netted zero votes, and probably lost rust belt votes. The enthusiasm just isn't there for the Democrats.

[edit] Dead On Arrival

The strength of the Dems used to be that they had broad ideological flexibility. They are the party of non-whites, which is a huge and diverse group. Now that diversity hurts their messaging in presidential elections. Donald Trump won solely because he as running was a populist. His positions still make no sense. But he won anyways, because he was able to flip the Rust Belt. Hard-up whites behaved like a minority bloc in that they came out for Trump in the same way that African-Americans did for Obama.

The Democrats have made the mistake of refusing to frame its issues in terms of its constituents' prejudices, instead offering "solutions" to "problems" that can easily be "solved" by giving powerful people money to ignore them. Its fortunes turned around in the 2006 and 2008 elections mainly because of a group called the Club for Growth. Yet the partnership between liberal-centrist remains weak and disorganized, just as the moderate-right coalition is fractured under President Trump. You could see this happening back when both the Tea Party and OWS were popping up. One now has numerous elected offices including, arguably, the White House; the other is a historical footnote.

[edit] Internal factions

While the Democrats have a substantial liberal wing among the public at large, the party's inability to coordinate itself properly results in a political platform that consists of rolling over to Republican schemes and failing to provide effective leadership. The sectarian violence appears below.

[edit] Progressive Democrats

European-styled social democrats, some bordering on socialist. In the House they are organized in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the largest of its kind in the House of Representatives. Some are descendants of the New Left:

  • Cecil Bothwell
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Donna Edwards
  • Keith Ellison
  • Russ Feingold (the only Senator to vote against the original manifestation of the PATRIOT Act)
  • Alan Grayson
  • Kamala Harris
  • Pramila Jayapal
  • Dennis Kucinich
  • Barbara Lee
  • John Lewis
  • Jim McDermott
  • Cynthia McKinney (switched to Greens to the Democrats' relief, "An long time ago")
  • Jamie Raskin
  • Bernie Sanders (self-described "Democratic socialist" put more closer to Social democrat; for many years he wasn't even an actual Democrat, but caucused with them. He switched his party registration from Independent to Democratic in time for his 2016 presidential bid)
  • Pete Stark (the first openly atheist member of Congress[13])
  • Zephyr Teachout
  • Elizabeth Warren

[edit] Traditional liberals

Constitute half of the voter base, and take pain to avoid infighting between the separate Democratic coalitions. "A little left of center," in FDR's words, and don't share many differences with the progressives anyway:

[edit] New Democrats

The Third Way moderates. An outgrowth of the Democratic Leadership Council in the 80s, they turned the party increasingly neoliberal in the 90s, and are roughly equivalent to the British New Labour. Represented by the New Democrat Coalition (an affiliate of the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council):

  • Bill Clinton, who led the New Democrat coalition and ushered in the right-ward shift of the Democratic Party.
  • Hillary Clinton, who heads the Clinton Foundation and leads the centrist (in name only) Democrats who dominate much of the DNC to this day.
  • Andrew Cuomo
  • John Edwards
  • Dianne Feinstein
  • Al Gore
  • Martin O'Malley
  • Joe Lieberman (independent since 2006)
  • Harry Reid
  • Barack Obama[14]
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the former head of the DNC. Removing Schultz wasn't just a goal of Sanders supporters. She has been an ineffective chair because of her relationship with wealthy retired douchebags South Florida Republicans, causing the Democrats to give up a few seats without contest.

[edit] Blue Dogs

Here's where the shit starts to break out. Those in the Blue Dog Coalition are often accused of being DINOs, siding with conservative thought whenever they wish, most commonly on social issues and deficit hawkery.[15] Officially they are a coalition in the House but a few ideologically aligned Senators are listed as well. They're typically elected in Jesusland, and are considered flaming lefties there, despite being firmly centre-right:

  • Joe Donnelly
  • Rahm Emanuel
  • Gabrielle Giffords
  • Mary Landrieu
  • Joe Manchin
  • Ben Nelson
  • Collin Peterson
  • Heath Shuler

[edit] Dixiecrat leftovers and boll weevils

To the right of the Blue Dogs. Not a significant feature in the party anymore, although occasionally one will turn up here and there as a failed Senate candidate,[wp] or a centrist Democrat will go haywire and swing far to the right.[16]

  • Virgil Goode (left the Democrats in 2000, was the Constitution Party presidential nominee in 2012)
  • Zell Miller[17]

[edit] These guys

These often vote with the progressive and traditional liberal wings of the party, but have their conservative quirky bits. Not easily categorized elsewhere:

  • Lincoln Chafee (Who self-describing as Libertarian-leading Progressive for some reason?, Thus maybe means to be down as others "Libertarians" technically?)
  • Jon Tester
  • Jim Webb

[edit] Feminism

Women make up 33% of elected Democratic members of Congress in 2016, which is up from 21% in 2006.[18]

[edit] The libertarians

Yes, they exist too, probably upset about Dubya's stance on civil liberties and the Republicans' constant juggling between pro-business interests and the Religious Right:

  • Mike Gravel
  • There is also an erstwhile "Democratic Freedom Caucus" influenced by Georgism whose actual influence in the party is negligible

[edit] So who's ticking them on their ballot?

All over the country Democrats are running on their singular strength – the fact that they are not as batshit crazy as their Republican opponents.
Chris Ladd[19]

Today, the Democratic Party attracts academia, white-collar professionals,[20] scientists,[21] medical students,[22] the youth vote,[23] the working class,[24] increasingly the middle class,[25] consumer advocates, copyright reformers, women,[26] LGBT, and ethnic minorities. However, many progressives feel left out of the Party, especially those whose focus in on income inequality. These are alarmed by positions taken by, e.g., Jon Cowan, president of the centrist think tank Third Way, claims populism is dead in the Party, who argues:

“There is a very large faction within the Democratic Party that wants to go back in time,” Cowan told me. “They want to take what we did in the 20th century and do more of it. They want to re-unionize the entire country, unwind the trade deals of the last couple of decades, and not just preserve but expand entitlements. Even if we could afford that, it wouldn’t solve most of the problems of the middle class.”

That is, many top dog Democrats don't want to deal with income inequality; they want to appeal to the middle-class voters who have been moving in the Democratic direction.

Self-identified Democratic centrist and two-term Delaware governor, Jack Markell, agrees that the middle class is key, and claims: : '“If it’s about inequality, it’s a conversation that has the potential of dividing us.” ...Markell says that middle-class voters hear in the crusade against “inequality” a desire to equalize people rather than make everyone better off."[27] In all this, progressives hear no Party support for unionizing the working poor in the service sector, or for supporting any new programs to assist with the cost of child care or sky-rocketing college tuition.

[edit] Quotes

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

  1. Namely, Zephyr Teachout of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, and Lucy Flores of Nevada, all of whom experienced a surge in small dollar donations due to his endorsements. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who supports Sanders, won his primary against a billionaire businessman, and he is likely to win Democrat Chris Van Hollen's open House seat. Donna Edwards of Maryland lost to Pelosi ally Van Hollen and John Fetterman lost to Clinton favorite Katie McGinty, but both pulled their opponents to the left in time for the general election. Tim Canova, a Wall Street reformer who worked with Sanders in the past, is running against Clinton stooge Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the DNC, in Florida; without needing an endorsement, he already received a record breaking amount of small donations from voters.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Hey, we didn't say it.
  2. Phillips, Amber, "These two Democrats are fighting over who hates Obama and Clinton the most", WaPo 5.16.16.
  3. Seriously, there was a party like this.
  4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The American Franchise, University of Virginia
  5. Or the "Ike Republicans," vital in passing the Civil Rights Act[wp]
  6. It's now come to a point where "Democrat" in some pockets of the South is code for "black."
  7. Lowry, Rich, "The Case Against the Critics of Our 16th President", National Review (6/5/13 at 4:00 AM).
  8. Carroll, Lauren, "Ohio Gov. John Kasich puts words in Abraham Lincoln's mouth about tax policy", Politifact (1/25/15 at 4:01 p.m.).
  9. Gebelhoff, Robert, "Donald Trump praised the protectionism of Abraham Lincoln. I call foul.", WaPo 6.23.16.
  10. Healy, Gene, "How Partisanship Killed the Anti-War Movement", Cato 12.14.15.
  11. Phillips, Amber, "Oklahoma Republicans want President Obama impeached, even though it’s futile", WaPo 5.20.16.
  12. Turley, Jonathan, "Five myths about impeachment", WaPo 8.1.14.
  13. "Representative Pete Stark Named 2008 Humanist of the Year"
  14. Obama's inclusion here is striking in that while his election effectively shut down the DLC, his outlook as POTUS has been largely Clintonian.
  15. A Brief History of Blue Dog Democrats, Time
  16. In states that are effectively one-party blue states, it's not uncommon to find wingnut Democrats who are only Democrats because they can't get elected otherwise. They're almost the same as Dixiecrats.
  17. aka. The Duel Guy. Watch Zell Miller vs. Chris Matthews
  18. A bunch of men telling women what’s good for them
  19. What Kansas says about our political future, Houston Chronicle (The GOP did keep the state in 2014, but holy hell, Sam Brownback.)
  20. The Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 10, The Atlantic
  21. Inconceivable!
  22. E. Frank, J. Carrera, and S. Dharamsi. Political Self-characterization of U.S. Medical Students, Journal of General Internal Medicine. Apr 2007; 22(4): 514–517.
  23. Millennials in Adulthood, Pew Research
  24. The Effects of Union Membership on Democratic Voting, The New York Times
  25. Is a Democratic realignment afoot in the middle class?, Washington Post
  26. Gender Gap in 2012 Vote Is Largest in Gallup's History, Gallup
  27. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/the-battle-within-the-democratic-party/282235/
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