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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 center-left social liberal political party in the United States, widely perceived to be left-wing in the American political spectrum, largely because of their progressive rhetoric and because their opposition is the Republican Party. Inside, there are members in various positions, from moderate centrist, fiscal conservatism to democratic socialist.

The Democratic Party is more conservative than the social democratic parties in Europe, but their 'modern liberalism' tends to be more progressive than center-left parties in Northeast Asia. When compared to the center-left parties of Latin America, the Democrat party is far more socially progressive, but also, on average, more fiscally conservative. And the Democratic Party also belongs to the Progressive Alliance, a coalition of center-left parties, including social democratic parties.

As of 2021, the Democratic Party has control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, controlling the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. They also control 17 [2] of 50 states and have partial control of another 6 [3]. A narrow majority of voters - approximately 50.8% - are aligned with the Democratic Party, according to the 2020 House of Representatives election results.[4]

A short history[edit]

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

The successor to the Democratic-Republican Party, 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 right-wing views, notably being anti-Second Bank (Andrew Jackson), anti-tariff (i.e. the Bourbons), and supporting and upholding slavery (later segregation).

The party began to move to the left in two significant shifts, starting with Woodrow Wilson in the 1910s and Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The latter was buffered by the "New Deal Coalition," a combination of urban constituents, immigrants, intellectuals, organized labor, farmers, whites from the Solid South and (for the first time) Northern African Americans, all of whom agreed on more government intervention in the economy but not much else.[5]. This coalition began to fracture in the late 1940s when members of the Liberal faction of the party such as Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey began pushing the Party left on Civil Rights, angering the pro-segregation "Dixiecrats" of the South.

The schism widened in the 1960s, the hot-button issues being the Vietnam War and desegregation. On the latter in particular, LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the last straw for the Southern Conservatives that had once been the Party's backbone; several of them, most notably Strom Thurmond, began to defect to the GOP, and 1964 Republican Presidential Nominee Barry Goldwater won several Deep South states that hadn't gone Republican since Reconstruction by explicitly campaigning against the Civil Rights Act (Goldwater at least claimed to support desegregation in principle, but he was also a staunch Federalist and viewed the act as written to be an overreach of the Federal Government).

Having taken notice of Goldwater's success in the South, Richard Nixon took advantage of this discontent in 1968 with his "Southern strategy," which ultimately flipped the American political sphere on its backside; as the South became increasingly Republican, dragging the GOP as a whole to the Right with it, the remaining liberal Republicans (or the "Ike Republicans," vital in passing the Civil Rights Act) fled to the Democrats. This series of defections, in turn, had the natural effect of dragging both parties, and the American political spectrum as a whole, to the right.

Unable to keep the fire alive into the '80s, the DNC embraced the snail's pace of incrementalism. The McGovern-Fraser pivot (1968) towards the primary system ushered in the age of Third Way politics. Couple it with superdelegates and the reliance of more primaries, and the result was less populism and more appeal to urban areas. While it was successful in the short-term by widening the upper/middle class, Democrats are so parochial with their city-regions' culture that they've lost the ability to network with other regions.

In the Bush years, you could not go 24 hours without seeing something which made you want to swallow knives. Half the Democrats just went along with OIF even though the premise of the war, as well as the hilariously short timetable, was bogus. The few journalists willing to challenge the White House gave brief sanctuary, but the fact all Bush had to do was sound credulous proved that Democrats are not equipped to deal with an administration that's openly breaking the law.[6][7]

By 2008, Americans had gotten sick of Republicans screwing up everything, resulting in a Democratic sweep in that year's elections, with Democrats expanding their majorities in Congress and Barack Obama being elected the nation's first African-American president. This was a cause for celebration for millions of Americans, who saw Obama's election as the start of a new era of American politics. The Democrats utterly failed to meet people's expectations, with Obama largely sticking to Clinton-era policies. Republicans took back the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, effectively killing any remaining hopes for Obama bringing about the change he had promised.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton emerged as Obama's standard bearer for the Democratic nomination, but was defeated in an extraordinary upset by Donald Trump, who rode a wave of anti-establishment (and racist) sentiment to capture the Republican nomination and eventually the White House. Trump's victory and subsequent far-right policy record horrified most Democrats, and inspired a resurgence of left-wing grassroots activism not seen in decades, helping the Democrats retake the House in 2018. The 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination shaped up to be a bitterly fought battle, with dozens of candidates facing off against each other. The primary eventually came to a rather sudden end in March 2020, when the centrist wing of the party united behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who easily defeated his closest rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. With the primary over, Democrats turned their attention to defeating Trump, which appeared at first to be an easy task due to his catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a variety of other crises that year. However, Trump dramatically outperformed expectations once again, though this wasn't enough to save his re-election. Despite considerably underperforming expectations, Democrats still ousted Trump, retained control of the House (despite losing seats, which does not bode well for the future), and managed to take back the Senate by the slimmest margin possible, despite an extremely unfriendly map. As a result, Democrats now have control of the federal government for the first time in a decade. As the argument over Biden backing down from 2000 dollar stimulus checks shows, the old debate "do the Democrats go far enough" is still going to haunt Biden just like it did to his former boss.

Internal factions[edit]

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.

But really, the first moment people realized the media had the power to singlehandedly derail a "problematic" candidate was Howard Dean. Sure, Dean, in recent years, has morphed into a pharmaceutical lobbyist and voracious anti-Bernie mouthpiece. Still, back in the '04 primaries, he was a completely different candidate who funneled a wave of righteous anger towards the Bush administration. And then one day, at the end of a rally speech, he exclaimed "BYAHHHH!" and the entire media decided his candidacy was dead in the water in favor of Xanax in human form. The 2004 primaries/election were always in the back of voters' minds when the media blacked out Bernard and pretended like HRC was the next coming of Jesus in '16. They tried using the Dean playbook to delegitimize Trump, but each time it failed, the pedes would be empowered further.

The sectarian violence appears below.

Progressives[edit]

An alliance between social democrats, democratic socialists, and greens (there is a difference, however minor). If liberals prefer systemic reform, progressives push for systemic overhaul, with many advocating for policies that are less from the New Deal and more like the War on Poverty and beyond, which includes support for single-payer, a top marginal income tax rate of 50%, union membership, a $15 minimum wage, bilingual education in English and Spanish, busting monopolies, collective bargaining, public broadband for internet service, and (sometimes) nationalization, all hallmarks of the left-wing. Some even explicitly support employee ownership and endorse workplace democracy, even sponsoring bills to that effect. Once disenchanted by the right-wing, they grew increasingly popular throughout the 2010s, fueled chiefly by the diverse and increasingly leftist millennial generation, who felt disillusioned by Obama's fiscally conservative economic policy and latched onto Sanders' brand of social democracy. The Justice Democrats are a faction of progressives who explicitly don't take Super PAC money and prefer small donors, and has worked to primary so-called "corporate Democrats." They currently have ten sitting members: Jamal Bowman, Cori Bush, Raul Grijalva, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Many progressives are organized in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the largest of its kind in the House of Representatives, and more recently, the slightly smaller Medicare For All Caucus, which contains many of the same members. Some are descendants of the New Left.

Liberals[edit]

"A little left of center," in FDR's words, with an emphasis on social democracy and its various flavors. Old-school, New Deal-era moderates who wish to "save capitalism from itself," also in FDR's words. Their power base was traditionally the labor movement, which was far stronger through the New Deal era until the 1970s. Characterized by their willingness to listen to public pressure and bend to activist movement, they're the type to rein in the system's excesses without fundamentally changing it. Many state-level Democrats are of this tendency, as seen in New York state senators Alexandra Biaggi, a former Clinton supporter, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who almost was a running mate for Cuomo, both of whom are seen as a natural ally to organized labor, the Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, even the Democratic Socialists of America, all of whom have outstanding influence in New York. California, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, even Texas, Ohio, Florida, and Georgia have many state-level Democrats who also follow this tendency of preferring reform over revolution, but are nonetheless open to systemic change when more radical progressives and leftwingers are elected.

Centrists[edit]

The third way moderates. Birthed from the Democratic Leadership Council in the 80s, they turned the party increasingly neoliberal following Clinton's ascendance to the presidency, much like New Labour under Tony Blair. They dominated the party throughout the 90s, leading to a proliferation of Blue Dogs (see below) who gave cover to the right-wing. Since the 2010s, they've lost much of their former clout to the left-wing, as the Blue Dogs were eradicated and the progressives filled that void. Several of their most ardently centrist members have since been forced to shift left because of an increasingly restless public demanding change. They describe themselves as pro-fiscal responsibility, pro-growth, socially liberal, and liberal internationalists on foreign affairs. The first wave of the New Democrats has since become more like Blue Dog Democrats as represented by Joe Biden-Bill Clinton-Hillary Clinton, with the political center of the Democratic Party being more represented by Barack Obama-Cory Booker-Pete Buttigieg. The Third Way is represented by the New Democrat Coalition (an affiliate of the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council).

Conservatives[edit]

The Blue Dog Coalition are often accused of being DINOs, most commonly on social issues and deficit hawkery.[8] 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 center-right. They were largely wiped out in 2010 and 2014, but an ever smaller amount of their holdouts and similar non-Blue Dog center to center-right Democrats remain.

Dixiecrat leftovers and boll weevils[edit]

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,Wikipedia or a centrist Democrat will go haywire,Wikipedia and swing far to the right,Wikipedia.[9]

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

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[10]

Today, the Democratic Party attracts academia, white-collar professionals,[11] scientists,[12] medical students,[13] the youth vote,[14] increasingly less so the (white) working class,[15] increasingly more so the middle class,[16] consumer advocates, copyright reformers, women,[17] LGBT, and ethnic minorities. However, many progressives feel left[18] out of the Party, especially those whose focus is on income inequality. These are alarmed by positions taken by, e.g., Jon Cowan, president of the centrist think tank Third Way, who claims populism is dead in the Party, arguing:

“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 critical 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."[19] 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.

But mainstream Democrats are beginning to see that to win, they are, indeed, going to have to "go back in time" and return to issues like income inequity. Senator Chuck Schumer published an op-ed in The New York Times denouncing "vulture capitalists" and declaring his party would offer a "Better Deal" for Americans:

Americans are clamoring for bold changes to our politics and our economy. They feel, rightfully, that both systems are rigged against them, and they made that clear in last year’s election. American families deserve a better deal so that this country works for everyone again, not just the elites and special interests. Today, Democrats will start presenting that better deal to the American people.....In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there. We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake. This is the start of a new vision for the party, one strongly supported by House and Senate Democrats.

Quotes[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Hey, we didn't say it.
  2. They control Maryland and Massachusetts via supermajorities in both houses despite the governor being Republican
  3. Republicans have control in Kentucky and Kansas despite Democratic governors via supermajorities
  4. https://cookpolitical.com/2020-house-vote-tracker
  5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The American Franchise, University of Virginia
  6. Linton Weeks and Peter Barker, "Bush Spars With Critics Of the War Exchanges With Democrats Take Campaign-Style Tone", WaPo 12 November 2005; Page A01.
  7. Robert Parry, Sam Parry, and Nat Parry, "Journalists 'humbled' but unrepentant", FAIR November 2007.
  8. A Brief History of Blue Dog Democrats, Time
  9. 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.
  10. What Kansas says about our political future, Houston Chronicle (The GOP did keep the state in 2014, but holy hell, Sam Brownback.)
  11. The Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 10, The Atlantic
  12. Inconceivable!
  13. 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.
  14. Millennials in Adulthood, Pew Research
  15. The Effects of Union Membership on Democratic Voting, The New York Times
  16. Is a Democratic realignment afoot in the middle class?, Washington Post
  17. Gender Gap in 2012 Vote Is Largest in Gallup's History, Gallup
  18. No pun intended.
  19. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/the-battle-within-the-democratic-party/282235/