The Democratic Party
As split as things are in the Republican Party, the disconnect in the Democratic Party is just as fractured, even though it looks much nicer on the surface. In fact, when it comes to public policy, the Democratic moderate and liberal wings may as well be on opposite planets. They can’t even agree on what economic system America should have.
Will Rogers once joked, “I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.” This is how we've always viewed the Democratic Party. It’s essentially everyone in America who prefers to identify with a major political party but can’t stomach being a Republican. That’s why it’s often described as a “big tent” party.
This is not necessarily a criticism. There are many positive attributes that come with being inclusive, with tolerance, empathy and compassion being at the top of our personal lists. But being a “big tent” party is also one of the things that will ultimately be the Democratic Party’s undoing. The widely disparate views within the party worked just fine for decades — mainly because the far left-wing was relatively small and contained — but that dynamic has increasingly changed.
Even though Joe Biden won the 2020 Democratic presidential primary – – a feat only achieved because establishment lions (namely South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn) stepped in when far left-wingers Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren moved to frontrunner status – – progressives had been on a roll electorally and had been successful in heavily influencing the Democratic Party’s platform.
By design, congressional Democrats of all stripes stuck together like glue in the first weeks of Biden’s presidency, which was easy because passing the coronavirus relief package was low hanging fruit. Even after those initial weeks, centrist Democrats have been able to largely restrain the far-left wing by pushing back against them, hard.
This effort started in earnest in the post-mortem of the 2020 election, when the Democratic establishment loudly blamed the party’s poor performance down ballot on the far left and their aggressive support of things like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and Defunding the Police. < Note: Although Joe Biden won the top of the ticket in 2020, Democrats down ballot fell well short of expectations. It was actually pretty bad. Democrats even lost New Hampshire’s state legislature. >
Adding to the pushback against the liberal wing, by refusing to change Senate rules to weaken the filibuster in a 50-50 Senate, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) essentially put a halt to President Biden’s original agenda, which was extremely progressive. Things got so bad that Sinema left the Democratic Party after the 2022 midterm elections and registered as Independent and Manchin is seriously considering doing the same or, much worse for his old compadres, running for president in 2024 as an Independent against Joe Biden.
But these successful attempts to hold back progressives — helped significantly by a Democratic president who threw a few crumbs at them along the way — is likely a temporary fix. The fierce outrage from the far left-wing of the party toward Manchin and Sinema clearly demonstrates the trouble that is a-brew’n. Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) called Manchin’s position “anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant.”
The ongoing policy disagreements are also a solid indication. One must look no further than the Democrat’s inter-party feuds over Build Back Better, voting rights, and the U.S. providing weapons to Israel to strike the Palestinians to see that the ideological split in the party is becoming wider and deeper by the day — and will eventually become a bridge too far for all sides.
We're not saying that the super liberal slice of the Democratic party is large enough to overtake the entire thing. However, we do believe there are just enough of them to become “spoilers” within their own party. Even though President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and his proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan had a combined price tag of over $6 trillion, for example, it was still not sufficiently progressive for some. In response to the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted, “This is not nearly enough.”
All that said, the Democrats have a bigger, much more imminent problem. It’s so big that, as we write this fourteen months before the election, we confidently predict Joe Biden is going to lose — regardless of who the Republican nominee ends up being. The reason? They continually refuse to listen to their voters.
This has been the case with their Black voters for decades. In fact, on the 2020 campaign trail, Joe Biden said the quiet part out loud to Charlamagne the God, the Black host of the popular radio show The Breakfast Club: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Hmmm…. that ain’t a good thing to say Joe.
Democrats have taken their Black voters for granted for years, the assumption being that, while they may not have done all they could or should have for them, the other guys have done way worse. We cannot think of anything more insulting or condescending.
So, it’s not hard to imagine why Biden is underperforming among nonwhite voters, even against a guy who relentlessly said terrible things about them and who viscously mocked things like peaceful protests highlighting racial injustice. In September 2023, Biden leads Trump by 53 percent to 28 percent among registered nonwhite voters. This may seem like a lot until you consider that, in 2020, Biden won that vote by over 70 percent. In worse news for the Democratic Party, almost all the nonwhite voters Biden has lost are among voters under the age of 45.
Now the party is willfully ignoring their voters again, only on a much broader scale. In September 2023, highly respected Washington Post journalist (and, by multiple accounts, friend of the current president) David Ignatius finally put the feelings of many Americans in writing. Under the headline “President Biden Should Not Run Again in 2024,” Ignatius wrote,
Biden would carry two big liabilities into a 2024 campaign. He would be 82 when he began a second term. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC poll, 77 percent of the public, including 69 percent of Democrats, think he’s too old to be effective for four more years. Biden’s age isn’t just a Fox News trope; it’s been the subject of dinner-table conversations across America this summer.
Because of their concerns about Biden’s age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris. She is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating, according to polling website FiveThirtyEight. Harris has many laudable qualities, but the simple fact is that she has failed to gain traction in the country or even within her own party.
David Von Drehle, also of The Washington Post, followed up with this gem addressing the ridiculous notion — held tightly by Biden himself — that he is the only Democratic candidate who can beat Donald Trump in 2024:
You can trace the Democratic self-delusion to the 2016 election, in which the egregious Donald Trump seized control of a moribund Republican Party and eked out a narrow victory over Hillary Clinton. In a preview of 2020, Democratic leaders had been so alarmed by Sanders running hard to the left that they reached into their vaults to anoint a proven loser, then pretended they had a great candidate. Clinton had the dubious distinction of losing the nomination in 2008 to a freshman senator, yet the party was shocked when she managed to lose to a celebrity from reality TV.
Rather than draw the obvious conclusion that the party needed to strengthen its bench, Democrats instead decided that Trump had some strange political dark magic. No amount of subsequent losing by the burly blowhard has shaken that deep-down dread. At cocktail parties, in caucus rooms and on cable TV, one hears over and over that only Biden can defeat Trump, like an elderly Harry Potter who alone can stop Lord Voldemort.
This is crazy. Any moderately popular person could beat Trump in a general election. The former president has not made the slightest effort since leaving office to win back a single swing vote; indeed, polls suggest that more than half of the electorate is a hard “no” on Trump and nearly two-thirds are either firmly or leaning against him.
Listen, it’s music to our ears if the Democratic Party keeps thinking it’s nothing more than ageist to bring up Biden’s age OR it is enough to rely on the abortion issue OR they can win if they just keep repeating “Trump is a bad guy who will kill democracy.”
It’s great news for 1787 if this is the party Democrats decide they want. It only makes it easier for us to beat them.