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Democratic Voters: Party Should Move Left

The post-November 8 discussion was supposed to focus on the GOP: How to rebuild the party after what was expected to be a sizable loss, both in the Electoral College and the Senate. Instead, after voters delivered an unprecedented thrashing to Democrats up and down the ballot, the fate of America’s center-Left party is one of the most urgent questions in politics.

This debate is just starting to play out among intellectuals and elected officials, and will continue to rage for at least the next four years. But it’s worth noting, as a kind of preliminary measure, where Democratic voters are saying their party should go. According to Pew’s detailed post-election survey, the 2016 defeat has made Democrats even more determined to move to the left:

Democratic voters are now far more supportive of the party moving in a more liberal direction than they were after either the 2012 or 2008 elections. About half of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters (49%) say Democratic leaders in Washington should move in a more liberal direction, while nearly as many (47%) favor a more moderate approach. Following Obama’s victories, majorities favored the party’s leaders moving in a more moderate direction (57% in both 2012 and 2008).

Meanwhile, 60 percent of Republicans say the GOP should become more conservative and 36 percent say it should moderate—virtually identical to the results Pew has found each time it polled GOP voters after every election since 2008. The center of gravity in the GOP has militated against moderation for many years, and now the appetite for moderation among Democrats is diminishing as well.

Of course, “more liberal,” and “more conservative” are ambiguous terms, especially in an era defined by an incoming President who is a nationalist and a populist but whose economic views don’t fit neatly with either party. It may be that the liberal impulse among Democrats is confined to economic issues and they want the party to move in a more social-democratic direction on the economy while moderating its focus on race and gender issues, as Bernie Sanders himself suggested. Or it could be that many Democrats want the party to take an even harder line on identity politics in reaction to a President they believe threatens minority rights. Most likely, the result reflects some combination of those perspectives.

But one thing is clear: Genuinely centrist Democrats who might win in red states—Jim Webb, Bill Clinton, and Joe Manchin, for example—are in short supply, and the party’s voters seem less determined to promote them after the election than before.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    The Democrats just got done running a centrist and economic realist in Hillary Clinton. That’s what she was and that is why she had plenty of support from many segments of the business community which poured money into her campaign. They were not at all concerned that she was going to ruin free enterprise.

    • solstice

      She received support from *big business because she supports the massive network of regulations that harms small businesses. And getting paid $750,000 per speech to Goldman Sachs is not centrism or economic realism — it is corruption and crony capitalism.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I submit that that the current alignment of Republicans will be more favorable to the after-tax bottom line of Goldman Sachs than anything seen yet and on a very long term basis going forward. We nave now got Trump to sign for Ryan and McConnell what Hillary Clinton would not have signed and even Goldman knew that when they were paying to listen to her.
        As I tell all my regular critics, Stay Tuned, not to me, but to what your new government actually does.

    • Boritz

      They don’t believe in free enterprise any more than she does. The insurance industry, for example, sold their soul for Obamacare.

      • FriendlyGoat

        The insurance industry—–no matter which lines—–believes in one thing.
        It believes in selling policies where premiums exceed claims by a sufficient margin to allow for administration, marketing of those policies and the reasonable expectation of a reasonable profit margin. Republicans will sooner or later be forced to admit this. No company is selling any insurance in any state or over any state lines which is not priced to make money. The name of the game going forward from here will be companies finding ways to be permitted to sell “smaller” health insurance in terms of claims it can be exposed to actually paying. That’s what “across state lines” is about—-finding one state which will approve thin coverage to be sold everywhere else, including to employer groups. Nothing else is going to happen.

        • Beauceron

          Believe it or not, I actually agree with you on this, FG.
          I think insurance, and medical care for that matter, needs to be removed from a market like where it’s treated like any other regular commodity or service and looked at more along the lines of electrical services or broadcast bandwidths. We are a wealthy country, it’s appalling that a diagnosis of cancer or some other serious illness means bankruptcy for so many people.
          Obamacare has been a disaster. But there has to be a better way– one that both provides people with at least some sort of catastrophic care and is also financially sustainable. I don’t pretend to know what the answer is, but I don’t want to give up on that ethic as an ideal.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I do believe Republicans are in more of a hot seat than they know on the replacement of Obamacare. It may take the lower end of Trump supporters a while to figure out that they were completely lied to by every Republican in the country on this particular issue—–because it is going to take Republicans a while to both conceive or implement anything whatsoever. But, here’s the hard truth. Most people in the catastrophic situations are not economically “worth” saving at high expense. Countering that with a humanitarian concern that we will save them anyway (and without bankrupting their families) because it is the “right and compassionate” thing to do is a SOCIAL value only addressed by SOCIAL solutions. We did not elect social solutions this time around.

          • Anthony

            Exemplary last two sentences! And something Bob Gates said “our politics” is the problem (we’ve become Sunnis and Shites).

        • Boritz

          “No company is selling any insurance in any state or over any state lines which is not priced to make money.”

          Glad to hear that. I thought the 100% and higher rate hikes under Obamacare were due to prices not covering costs. Guess they’re just greedy free enterprise capitalists and we need more of those.

  • eugen savoy

    Warren-Dayton 2020!!! Once more into the breach dear friends…

  • Fat_Man

    Go for it guys.

  • LarryD

    Once radicals get control, they make the organizations they control more radical over time. Competition for virtue status drives this, if nothing else. It’s been happening since the French Revolution.

  • solstice

    I hope the Democratic party moves further to the left ala the UK Labour party and thereby becomes increasingly unelectable.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I share the emotional response, in the long run such a drift isn’t good for the country. If the Dems become as unmoored as Labour (and believe me, they have a long long way to go before they get there), then we lose any realistic check on the GOP, which if we are to be honest, hasn’t covered itself with glory either. We need two healthy competitors, not one deformed and the other insane….

      • solstice

        Given how well Sanders did in the primaries and how sharply the Democratic Party shifted to the left during Obama’s second term, they are not as far from getting there as you think. The Democratic Party’s Sanders wing is more energized than its establishment wing and could easily take over the party.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. The Left is wonderful at suborning organizations, but like the dog chasing a car, they often are less successful once they catch what they are chasing. Obama did an outstanding job of dragging the Dems to the left, and it has been immensely destructive for the Dems as an institution.

      • Kevin

        Not having a party of labor in the US allowed Trump to break through. A working class Democratic Party looking out for the little guy rather than slicing and dicing the electorate along racial and sexual lines and declaring half of its voters to be deplorable would never have abandoned so many voters

        • f1b0nacc1

          By and large, yes. Identity politics is something of a dead end, as well as being a very, very bad idea.

  • Disappeared4x

    Ask the 50% who did NOT vote what would make a difference. Probably they also reject becoming a nation of liars and greedy
    cheats led by a cadre of lawyers busy writing ever more rules and regulations, and a shadow cadre of donors unleashing brainwashed paid protestors to bully whoever to GOTV.

    2016 saw the decimation of labels: left, right, liberal, progressive, conservative, populist, nationalist, patriot, racist, deplorable…none have real meaning to those who mostly wanted the truth, freedom to think for themselves, and NO MORE LANGUAGE POLICE IN THE DoJustice.

    40 years of brainwashing seems to have worked to produce a cohort of zombies, clinging to their lattes and solar panels until their parents run out of money.

  • Anthony

    Policies, Policies, Policies, Citizens, citizens, Citizens (all 300 million plus), Not Fun House Theatrics.

  • Beauceron

    I’ve been reading the Dem election fallout with dismay.
    Instead of taking the opportunity to do some soul searching and learning from the loss, they’ve clearly decided that doubling down on the identity politics platform that I believe has done their party and this country so much harm is the path to victory. With changing demographics, they may be right about that in the long run. But it will fracture this country and, I suspect, lead to actual fighting.

    • (((kingschitz)))

      The Dems may no longer have a choice. Identity categories have proliferated over the last generation as have cadres of newly minted minorities. Political identity is like an entitlement program. Benefits once granted are almost impossible to retract; likewise the politicization of racial, gender, religious or sexual status. Entire university departments now exist to create new waves of such categories-with-faces each June.

      The Dems will need two generations to drive a stake through this vampire.

  • Kevin

    Much as I dislike the guy, Schumer seems more intelligent than Pelosi and Ellison. His move to bring in Joe Manchin and even Sanders evinces a desire to compete for the votes the party needs rather than purge the heretics.

    • f1b0nacc1

      I absolutely agree, though being “smarter than Pelosi and Ellison” really is setting the bar a bit low…

      Schumer doesn’t have a huge proportion of his caucus gerrymandered in safe seats, and thus doesn’t enjoy the luxury of virtue signalling and moral purity. I suspect this, more than anything else, contributes to his good commonsense as to how to move forward.

  • Arkeygeezer

    Of all of the election analyses I have read, the following seems to me the most relevant:
    “In modern times in the Western world, the conflict has been between a collectivist, command-economy philosophy held by a managerial elite, whether Marxist, Socialist or Progressivist, and a democratic, free-market dispensation predicated on the franchise and a government responsible to its citizens.
    It is fought on both a domestic and international scale, and is a war that will never be resolved. It will continue indefinitely, despite the demonstrably historical fact that the collectivist faction has failed wherever it has imposed its hegemony, creating only misery, destitution and virtual enslavement for the majority over whom it rules. Nevertheless, failure after failure, it will always be with us, for it is a function of the utopian quest inherent in the human soul that inevitably leads to a dystopian finale. Nemesis invariably follows hubris, but hubris is perennial.”
    https://pjmedia.com/blog/an-open-letter-to-donald-trump/

  • Andrew Allison

    I give this poll as much credence as the pre-election polls. The reason the Dems are being hammered is that in the rush to transgender bathrooms and all the other identity nonsense, they lost their working class base.

  • gabrielsyme

    It’s difficult to see where the Democratic party can go further left on cultural issues: it’s already in favour of significantly curtailing religious freedom, public funding for abortion and castrating confused pre-pubescent boys (a silver lining here – perhaps the opera industry will benefit from a new generation of castrati). To go further left will actually bring it to more authoritarian forms of governance – stripping religious institutions of legal protections and accreditations, forcing professionals to cooperate with abortions, gay marriage and euthanasia, and so forth.

    The irony of the cultural left yelling “fascist” at Trump will only deepen as the years go by, I’m afraid.

    • (((kingschitz)))

      You’re correct but it should be noted that the accreditation game–and here I refer to privileged treatment under the Internal Revenue Code–swings both ways. For example, if deductibility for contributions were to be curtailed for universities above a certain size, if tax exempt growth for endowments above a certain size was eliminated and if the non-political requirements for 501c3 were to be strictly enforced, many academic leftists would be SOL, big time.

      Higher Ed is increasingly functioning as an adjunct (and nursery) for the left. That they have a right to be but not on the taxpayers’ dime.

  • Dale Fayda

    I, for one, welcome the Democrat party going “full retard”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAKG-kbKeIo.

    Why mince words and dance around the obvious? Time to show everyone exactly who they are and to let their despotism and immorality run free. After all, victory of socialism is inevitable, right?

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