As the Democratic Presidential Primary season nears October, more than nine months before the Democratic National Convention, concerns over division within the party continue to get plenty of “ink” and airtime, at least in the pro-Democratic media.
As I’ve mentioned before, polling by Monmouth and Quinnipiac indicate Democrats perceive defeating Trump as Job One, over policy concerns, by margins of roughly 58% to 36%.
Still, the question persists as to how divided the party will become during the primary season, and will the divisions be healed by November of 2020.
Accordingly, I have cherry-picked some of the issues purported by the national media as potentially highly divisive:
1. My first concern is will “the Squad,” led by Alexandra Oscio-Cortez, continue their “fire then aim” rhetoric to the point of turning off independent and moderate voters?
This is the same general demographic Democrats plan on capturing to win in 2020.
It is obvious they are out of the American political mainstream and that their penchant for headline-grabbing will militate against the party in the contests for president and Congress.
OK, it is cheap shot time. I am well aware of AOC’s great Twitter following; but if Twitter followers determine who will govern the United States, then Katie Perry will be our queen and Justin Bieber, her prince consort.
The Squad would do well to listen to older and wiser heads (words from a 1968 “McGovernite”).
2. Another concern is what Republicans have long referred to negatively as “identity politics” as practiced by the Democrats, while Democrats insist on the term “diversity” or what used to be called “big tent politics,” with a new emphasis on inclusion of marginalized groups.
While Republicans generally speak negatively of the concept, in reality they not so privately lament their inability to broaden their base, and find themselves increasingly under fire as the party of exclusion, via a new brand of monolithic identity politics.
The issue for the Democrats is to balance their appeal to the disparate groups within their coalition in a manner which seems fair and rational.
In effect, the more diverse the party, the more difficult the balancing act.
With so many groups clamoring for recognition, it can easily be divisive, even though the different groups are generally supportive of one another.
Many party loyalists insist that the best way to win the presidency is to simply take advantage of Trump’s unpopularity (unwater on average by 10 points for the length of his presidency).
Others counsel the party must develop a strong, consistent message and be prepared for Trump’s negative campaign style, hoping his rhetoric will alienate moderates and independents, while holding on to the diverse elements in the party, demographically and ideologically.
As an aside, we should not assume that moderate and independent are synonymous terms.
There are many Liberals and Conservatives who consider themselves to be independents, but do not wish to be associated with either party.
Additionally, there are considerable Democrats and Republicans who consider themselves to be moderates.
3. Finally I am concerned with an element within the party sponsoring candidates who are overpromising.
It is certainly nothing new for politics at any level, and while the Democrats are the party most often associated with budget deficits, the current administration has exceeded the Obama administration‘s annual deficit growth rate, and reversed the rate of deficit decline.
Still, the issue that concerns many of us party stalwarts is that two of the three leading candidates in the Democratic primary, namely Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are proposing huge spending increases, as much as $50 Trillion with a capital T, over the next 10 years.
Their proposed plans for paying for these increases are, in my opinion, questionable at best, and ludicrous at worst.
As someone who prepared municipal budgets for more than 40 years, you do not plot your revenues by using the rosiest projections. Hopefully the “pep rally” proposals will not carry the day.
They are likely to encourage voters, who are concerned with fiscal responsibility and a looming recession, to swallow hard and vote for Trump, though they prefer a viable alternative.
CARL HOLDER, who’s retired as Paris’ longtime city manager, is a self-professed political junkie. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.