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Blue Civil War Goes National


Despite its recent victories in national elections, the Democratic Party is standing on shaky ground. For years, the coalition of minority voters, labor unions, working-class whites and affluent, college-educated liberals has held together despite its inherent contradictions, but we’re now seeing signs that it is beginning to come apart. In what we’ve dubbed the “blue civil war,” a conflict is taking shape between the consumers of public services and the unionized providers of those services. This conflict is splitting the time-tested coalition down the middle, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Democratic pols to please both groups at once, a problem that has only been exacerbated by the budget cuts hitting state and local governments.

Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics has a new piece expanding on the idea, suggesting that as the contradictions within the coalition become increasingly difficult to manage, whole chunks of the party’s base are at risk of breaking away:

Liberals were disheartened by the administration’s reluctance to press for single-payer universal health coverage. Suburbanites disliked the deficit spending, and working-class whites, especially in Appalachia, were turned off by the administration’s cultural liberalism and push for stricter regulations on coal usage. The end result of this was the disaster of 2010, which would have been much worse had Republicans not nominated unacceptable candidates in a half-dozen vulnerable House seats and three Senate races (the GOP has its own, widely commented upon, coalitional problems).

[…]Democrats are increasingly confronted with either raising taxes on their suburban constituents or cutting spending on their downscale voters to deal with debt; either move will likely enrage the affected group. […]

These moves aren’t without far-reaching consequences. As red and blue states alike have difficulty delivering on commitments to workers made long ago, will those workers continue to believe that government programs are a key component of economic security? Or if the other path is taken, will upscale voters continue to vote Democrat? Perhaps, but it really does seem like an either-or proposition is more likely.

These are the right questions to ask, and it’s something that should be worrying the people at the DNC as they game plan for future elections. This will be one of the more interesting political stories to keep a watch on over the next decade.

Read the whole thing.

[Cannon image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss Drinkard

    Doesn’t translate into Republican votes. Republicans can’t out-Santa Claus the Dems on any program designed to shovel money to the lazy and greedy members of the middle class who keep voting themselves membership into the poverty programs.
    I think another question at least should be asked, even if it can’t be answered at the moment: is the can-do, independent, I’d-rather-do-it-myself spirit that helped make this nation in the 19th century completely dead? Has it been permanently replaced by a staggering lack of self-confidence and ingenuity?

    • Tom

      If such is true, it’s not going to be permanent–such a system can’t last, and therefore won’t.

  • cubanbob

    Blue staters will soon have to choose between paying even higher taxes for gold plated pensions and benefits or forcing the issue and demanding more band for the buck in services.

  • Fat_Man

    Immigration is an issue that cuts both parties in half. Among Democrats, professional pols looking for new rotten boroughs, and wealthy suburbanites looking for maids and yardmen are backing the president’s push for amnesty. But, in 2006 unions and the CBC both opposed Bush on his version of a comprehensive immigration bill. Their fundamental animus towards immigration has not changed, but they may be forced to not publicly oppose Obama. They may act to place subtle barriers in front of the gang of 8 bill. The Republicans are just as divided.

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