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Democrats Must Choose a Direction

Two major political fights are on the horizon: First (and it will be first), is the Senate confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice. Second, is the 2018 election.

Unless President Trump nominates someone who is so outside the mainstream that he or she is unacceptable to moderate Republicans as well as Democrats, the president’s nomination will be confirmed. There are opportunities for Democratic Senators to attempt to reveal potentially troubling aspects of the nominee’s judicial philosophy (troubling to their Democratic constituency), that could add fuel to the necessity of electing more Democrats in the future to stop further movement of the court to the right, but that’s about all that can be accomplished. Losing or winning an election has consequences and altering the composition of the Supreme Court is one of them.

The 2018 election is a different kettle of fish. Democrats have a real chance of altering the balance of power in both houses of congress, although doing so is still a long shot. If a conservative Supreme Court means that more decisions will be left up to states, rather than settled on a federal level, then governorships and state legislatures become extremely important in exerting control over decisions that had previously been thought to be within the federal purview (e.g. gerrymandering and perhaps even abortion rights).

The question for Democrats—and it is one that has to be answered right now because the candidates in most states’ general elections have been decided—is whether to try to build a truly progressive constituency that supports progressive candidates who campaign for universal health care, free public college tuition, abortion rights, tax reform, environmental protection and measures to combat climate change, or whether to tailor the Democratic message to often moderate or sometimes conservative views of the local electorate, who supported Republican incumbents in the past.

“Catastrophic liberal hysterics” (I am putting quotations around the phrase, since I think it captures the way much of what is currently being said aloud and in messages I get daily in my inbox—mostly followed by requests for donations—are perceived by a fair share of the public) appeal to the progressive base but probably deter those who are more moderate. Such sentiments, phrased more positively in terms of actions that can be taken to bring about new programs and policies, may serve to recruit young and perhaps minority voters. Realistic proposals, which include Medicare for All, greater taxation of high wealth, amnesty for DACA recipients, higher minimum wages, some version of free public college tuition, reduction of greenhouse gases, a more welcoming refugee program, a more humane immigration program, can become a core of a liberal/progressive movement that energizes young people and the older progressive base of the Democratic Party without totally alienating moderates. The question is whether there is enough time between now and November to bring out young and minority voters to support this agenda. There may be in some states or congressional districts, but not in others. It will be much easier in a presidential election year, when a strong, vibrant, progressive candidate can espouse such views.

Electing anyone, just because he or she is a Democrat, may stem the tide of the Republican/Trump takeover, but it can’t sustain a progressive victory through 2020. Many young progressives are fed up with the Wall Street oriented, ties to deep pocket fundraisers and lobbyists, middle of the road politics of those currently holding the reins of Democratic power in congress. Many progressives, regardless of age, including myself, believe that the ties to corporate power and wealth of our politicians is what is responsible for things rarely changing regardless of which party is in power. Under both parties, the rich have been getting richer and the poor getting poorer. For the Democratic Party to move ahead and change our country, it needs to embrace a more progressive stance, if not before the 2018 election, at least after it and before 2020. 

Reader Comments (3)

Seems to me that the Democrats have already decided to stick with Wall Street. The evidence is imply that "...the candidates in most states’ general elections have been decided" and are either incumbents or are diversity faced folks that are cut from military/CIA/security state cloth or other proven stock or a combo of all these,
Of course the democrats do have plenty of space to attack Trump and stay clear of the real issues. The GOP is unlikely to criticize them for serving corporate paymasters at the cost of the people

July 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

Progressives are really a splinter group of the Democrat Party. It’s possible that progressives will someday form their own separate party apart from traditional liberal Democrats. This bifurcation is perhaps the primary problem facing the party at this moment. It seems that many moderate Democrats are walking away from their traditional party and aligning with the more conservative platform of the Republicans. Many people feel that progressivism has become more akin to socialism or radicalism than adhering to traditional liberal principles.

I’m not sure how a constitutional originalist SCOTUS nominee could be outside the mainstream. That is sort of the definition of the political mainstream.

Medicare For All is not a realistic proposal. It’s both unsustainable and harmful. Why in the world would anyone want the government to entirely manage and find a basic insurance product? I know some people think this idea would be beneficial but, even if it could be funded (which it can’t), it would spread the problems found in the Veteran’s Administration to healthcare everywhere in the country.

Democrats, either moderate or progressive, still continue to prejudicially group their perceived constituents in terms of group identity. You can’t appeal to “minorities” or any other alleged group....you can only appeal to individuals. I’m always surprised that liberals don’t see the hypocrisy of their firmly ingrained racist, bigoted attitudes,

July 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

Mainstream Republicans are not comfortable with Trump but he is all they have and they go along with it. His Supreme court nominations have fulfilled their long standing dreams. Trump has continually overstepped logic. Foreign Policy. Tariffs. His embarrassing hate rallies. Lots of ammunition for Democrats to campaign on. The Clinton's changed the Democratic Party. They were Center Right and brought large sums of lobbyist and Wall Street money into Democratic coffers. Obama was Center Left but continued the coarse of large Campaign contributions. So bottom line Democrats can nominate a Progressive like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or a more moderate candidate like Joe Biden. The country is Center Right on average. I think Sanders or Warren could scare many voters away. Democrats need to defeat Trump at all costs. Nominate a Moderate so they can get the Presidecy back to stop the bleeding. Ideology can come later.

July 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Brown

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