Democratic Party

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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 Democrat Party Democratic Party is a centre-left political party in the United States, widely perceived to be left-wing in the American political spectrum. In reality, think of it as a decentralized tent of centrist to centre-right politicians (with centre-left factions) who can't decide on virtually anything. (And that may be the key to its survival.)[2]).

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 on for a ridiculous amount of time the Democrats ran to the left, mostly because they had controlled congress for so long they thought they could do whatever they wanted. But when they lose, they will always run to the middle.

Contents

[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 (ie. the Bourbons) and supporting and upholding slavery (later segregation).

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 position and thus making the former refuge of Confederates the heir to Lincoln's North.[6] And all because of those uppity darkies.[7]

Following the rise of Saint Ronnie, 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.)

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. The Democrats' reward? Perceived now as fraudulent and warmongering, their standing in the polls as low as Republicans'.

[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.

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. The enthusiasm just isn't there for the Democrats.

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. However, its fortunes turned around in the 2006 and 2008 elections mainly because of a group called the Club for Growth, which has proven to be a wildly successful strategy for growing the Democratic Party beyond anyone's imagination. The center remains intact...barely.

[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)
  • Barney Frank
  • Alan Grayson
  • Kamala Harris
  • 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 and indeed admitted "Democratic" socialist; 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[8])
  • 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. Birth from 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 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[9]
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the incompetent head of the DNC who often votes with Republicans.

[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.[10] 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.[11]

  • Virgil Goode (left the Democrats in 2000, was the Constitution Party presidential nominee in 2012)
  • Zell Miller[12]

[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] 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[13]

Today, the Democratic Party attracts academia, white-collar professionals,[14] scientists,[15] medical students,[16] the youth vote,[17] the working class,[18] increasingly the middle class,[19] consumer advocates, copyright reformers, women,[20] 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."[21] 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. 7 reasons the Democratic coalition is more united than ever, Vox
  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
  6. Yes, irony meters abound.
  7. It's now come to a point where "Democrat" in some pockets of the South is code for "black."
  8. "Representative Pete Stark Named 2008 Humanist of the Year"
  9. Obama's inclusion here is striking in that while his election effectively shut down the DLC, his outlook as POTUS has been largely Clintonian.
  10. A Brief History of Blue Dog Democrats, Time
  11. 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.
  12. aka. The Duel Guy. Watch Zell Miller vs. Chris Matthews
  13. What Kansas says about our political future, Houston Chronicle (The GOP did keep the state in 2014, but holy hell, Sam Brownback.)
  14. The Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 10, The Atlantic
  15. Inconceivable!
  16. 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.
  17. Millennials in Adulthood, Pew Research
  18. The Effects of Union Membership on Democratic Voting, The New York Times
  19. Is a Democratic realignment afoot in the middle class?, Washington Post
  20. Gender Gap in 2012 Vote Is Largest in Gallup's History, Gallup
  21. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/the-battle-within-the-democratic-party/282235/
United States 2008 Presidential election articles on RationalWiki
Topics: 2008 U.S. Presidential Election - Democratic Party - Debate:Religious beliefs and public office - Republican Party - Same-sex marriage - United States Electoral College
Candidates: Hillary Clinton - Rudolph Giuliani - Mike Huckabee - John McCain - Alan Keyes - Dennis Kucinich - Ron Paul - Mitt Romney
Running mates: Joe Biden - Sarah Palin
Winner: Barack Obama
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