Michael Barone | Increasingly divided Democrats causing problems for their party

Michael Barone, Washington Examiner:

America’s two major political parties have a difficult task: amassing a 51 percent coalition in a nation that has always been — not just now, but from the beginning — regionally, religiously, racially and ethnically diverse.

George W. Bush’s Republicans in 2006 and 2008 were not able to hold together the 51 percent coalition that re-elected him in 2004. Barack Obama’s Democrats in 2014 were not able to hold together the 51 percent coalition that re-elected him in 2012.

And while the media and the voters are transfixed by the antics of Donald Trump, and speculating on possible damage to Republicans, Democrats are having some trouble holding their coalition together in the run up to 2016.

That trouble was apparent at last weekend’s Netroots Nation conference. Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor whose candidacy has made few ripples so far, was faced with “Black Lives Matter” protesters. His response, one that almost all Americans would agree with: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” At which point he was booed off the stage.

Similar treatment was given Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who’s been challenging Hillary Clinton’s lead in polls in heavily white Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders emphasizes economic issues — single payer health care, a 90 percent income tax bracket — but he appeals primarily to gentry liberals.

“It would be a terrible mistake for the progressive movement to split into a ‘black lives matter’ movement and an ‘economic justice’ movement,” laments Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich. But the fact is that the different priorities of gentry liberals and black activists, two heavily Democratic constituencies, are sparking heated arguments.

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