Q&A Friday #26: Will The Democratic Party Split In Two?
Question: “With the Kos/Sheehan wing of the Democratic Party pretty much in open war against the DLC crowd, what determines when they reach the breaking point and can no longer function as a party? Which side wins, and what does the political landscape look like afterwards?” — Mike_M
Answer: They’re actually not at the breaking point yet, although they are at a very uncomfortable impasse.
The DLC crowd understands that the “Kos/Sheehan wing” is political poison, but they also understand that they need them to win. So, what we’re seeing are candidates like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton rising to prominence. These politicians are not centrists, but they pretend to be because they can’t reveal their real leftist beliefs and win. On the other and, they have to also convince their base they’ll really be more liberal than they’re letting on once they get into office.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, the American people have caught on to this tactic and the left-wing radicals in the base have become increasing dissatisfied with the whole dog and pony show because they believe liberals can win outright. This puts liberal politicians in an untenable position: they can’t reveal their beliefs or they’ll lose, but if they don’t reveal enough of their beliefs to reel in their base, they won’t win either.
How this dilemma will be solved eventually is that it will become apparent to everyone in the Democratic Party that the ideas or beliefs of the “Kos/Sheehan wing” are just killing them with the public. Then, out of political necessity, prominent Democrats will start distancing themselves from them and condemning their ideas. After some snarling and complaining, the ultra-lefties will then read the hand writing on the wall and genuinely move a bit to the right.
That doesn’t mean they’ll become conservatives, but they will genuinely dump some of their more unpopular ideas. This has already started to happen with gun control, for example. Democrats understand that the “gun grabber” label just kills them with certain blocks of voters, so they’ve gotten much more leery of getting on the gun control bandwagon. That sort of thing will happen more and more over the coming years, especially if the Democrats keep consistently losing elections.
But, when will they have their big “awakening” and finally figure out liberalism is a political killer? Who knows? Given that the Democratic Party has been going downhill at least since Nixon slaughtered McGovern in 1972, you’d think the Dems would have figured this out long ago.