Friday, December 10, 2021

Neo-New Democrats?

Not sure about the name. I guess I'd prefer just Neo-Democrats. Or Liberal Patriots! But whatever--the main thing here is you really need to read this great piece by Ron Brownstein. It is by are the best and fairest summation of the debate that is breaking out within the Democratic party that I have had some hand in pushing forward. Whatever your stance on the debate, this is very much an article worth reading.
While you're at it you might want to take a look at my earlier and related piece, "The Cultural Left Puts a Ceiling on Democratic Support", linked to below.
"Just like the centrists who clustered around Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council that he led decades ago, today’s dissenters argue that Democrats risk a sustained exodus from power unless they can recapture more of the culturally conservative voters without a college education who are drifting away from the party. (That group, these dissenters argue, now includes not only white Americans but also working-class Hispanics and even some Black Americans.) And just as then, these arguments face fierce pushback from other Democrats who believe that the centrists would sacrifice the party’s commitment to racial equity in a futile attempt to regain right-leaning voters irretrievably lost to conservative Republican messages.
Today’s Democratic conflict is not yet as sustained or as institutionalized as the earlier battles. Although dozens of elected officials joined the DLC, the loudest internal critics of progressivism now are mostly political consultants, election analysts, and writers—a list that includes the data scientist David Shor and a coterie of prominent left-of-center journalists (such as Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Jonathan Chait) who have popularized his work; the longtime demographic and election analyst Ruy Teixeira and like-minded writers clustered around the website The Liberal Patriot; and the pollster Stanley B. Greenberg and the political strategist James Carville, two of the key figures in Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Compared with the early ’90s, “the pragmatic wing of the party is more fractured and leaderless,” says Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist think tank that was initially founded by the DLC but that has long outlived its parent organization (which closed its doors in 2011).
For now, these dissenters from the party’s progressive consensus are mostly shouting from the bleachers. On virtually every major cultural and economic issue, the Democrats’ baseline position today is well to the left of their consensus in the Clinton years (and the country itself has also moved left on some previously polarizing cultural issues, such as marriage equality). As president, Biden has not embraced all of the vanguard liberal positions that critics such as Shor and Teixeira consider damaging, but neither has he publicly confronted and separated himself from the most leftist elements of his party—the way Clinton most famously did during the 1992 campaign when he accused the hip-hop artist Sister Souljah of promoting “hatred” against white people. Only a handful of elected officials—most prominently, incoming New York City Mayor Eric Adams—seem willing to take a more confrontational approach toward cultural liberals, as analysts such as Teixeira are urging. But if next year’s midterm elections go badly for the party, it’s possible, even likely, that more Democrats will join the push for a more Clintonite approach. And that could restart a whole range of battles over policy and political strategy that seemed to have been long settled."

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