Unity Among Democrats or Realignment?

Despite all the protests seen from the most rabid Clinton supporters, most likely after the final primaries are over Hillary Clinton will realize that further fighting is futile and will accept a dignified settlement from the Obama campaign and begin unifying the party.

To partisan Democrats that is the only rational outcome. To an independent such as myself, this is the most probable outcome. It is also the most realistic outcome to home for if the Democrats are going to defeat John McCain. As I hope to see the defeat of any supporter of the Iraq war (including both McCain and Clinton) as well as the defeat of any social conservative (again including both McCain and Clinton), unity between the diverse Democratic factions appears to be the desirable goal in the short run.

This isn’t the only possible result. I discount the claims of Clinton supporters that they will vote for McCain. The videos I posted earlier with such claims are a product of both the passions of the moment and of the tendency of both the media and internet to report the most controversial and extreme views. Still, the fact remains that both parties contain diverse groups which are unified more out of political expediency than common views. Congressional votes deliberately organized to fall along party lines often provides a false sense of two unified parties when candidates are evaluated based upon their voting records as opposed to core beliefs.

The divisions among the Republicans, ranging from near-libertarian to the religious right, are far more obvious, but similar divisions exist among the Democrats. This division is increased with the trend, started before the 2006 elections and greatly accelerated by support for Obama, for independents and moderate Republicans (such as the Starbucks Republicans) to vote Democratic. While older (and often bitter) Democrats have tried to cling to the New Deal coalition, losing election after election in the process, younger voters working in the information age have a different view of government. Many of us independents voting Democratic are more interested in matters such as government reform, changing our disastrous foreign policy, stopping both the Iraq war and the drug war, increasing civil liberties, and strengthening the wall of separation between church and state. We have no love for “tax and spend” liberalism of recent years. This is quite different from the big government, nanny state views of Clinton and her supporters.

The Obama campaign has walked a fine line to present policies which will most likely be backed by both factions of the Democratic Party. While Obama seeks a more inclusive party, the Clinton camp has written off the views of Obama’s supporters and declared us to be a band of elitists. In many ways the Clinton supporters would be much more at home with the party of George W. Bush, Richard Milhouse Nixon, and Sprio T. Agnew. While Barack Obama has been compared to John F. Kennedy, the Clinton supporters remind me more of Spiro Agnew who condemned liberals as an “effete corps of impudent snobs.” The Clintonists might have come up with such a line if not for their anti-intellectualism which prevents them from expressing their views as well as the right wing, even when their views coincide.

While I believe the most likely outcome, for better or for worse ,is that the Democrats will become reunited, Cernig has presented a plausible alternative:

It seems to me that the schizophrenic nature of the Democratic Party may finally resolve itself. There’s a good chance that the right wing of the party will follow the Clintons into GOP-land. They always were “compassionate conservatives” and that’s probably where they belong. The Dems could end up looking a lot more like a European social democrat party as a result and if so the GOP will most likely fracture in its turn too. The far right won’t be able to call the shots quite so much, with what will then be a massively enhanced left wing of the Republicans able to steamroller them, and they’ll head for the exits to form a new hard right bunch of God-bothering, xenophobic helicopter-chasers. That way lies their consignment to history as a part of a ruling coalition, although they’ll be able to exert pressure from the finges. It’s probably the most positive role they could possibly play. Likewise, on the other flank of the main two, I think we’ll come to see democratic socialists and greens providing pressure from smaller but still influential partries on specific issues. The GOP will be left looking far more like a European conservative party.

If we don’t see Clintonista defections in droves, then it will be because the Republican hard right is just too odious for them to contemplate making common cause with. That will have pretty much the same efect, since in that case the GOP leadership is going to have to engineer a move leftwards just to recapture that party’s electability. The same fallout would then ensue as the hard right will still decamp following such a move and the Dem tent now has so many holes in it that a lot of those further left than right of the Dem center are likely to look to other parties to support so that they don’t have to relive the feuds of this primary season. Their trust that the Clinton camp has roughly the same aims as they do has been seriously eroded.

Either way, then, I think change is coming. The US has been further Right than the international mean for decades now, mainly due to the interplay of power centers in both the main parties rather than any intrinsic rightwingedness in the nation as a whole – but the adjustment has to come sometime.

I’ve often stated that I do not vote for the Democratic Party when they nominate conservative populists such as Hillary Clinton and, if not for the fact that it would mean electoral defeat when the Democrats do have a liberal candidate such as Barack Obama, would not mind if they left the party. I have much more in common with the diminishing type of Republican who is moderate on social issues and stresses civil liberties as opposed to social conservatism and support for the war. There are both those such as myself who currently lean towards the Democrats as well as many disenchanted Republicans who would prefer a realignment in the parties. Such a desire is also expressed by Mark at Publius Endures:

The Clintonites now threaten to pick their ball up and go home if their candidate is not the nominee. Obama supporters should not have a problem with this- the Clintonites are as illiberal as could be and are an anchor that weighs down any claim that the Dem Party is a force for good in this country, as I explained here. Instead, the Obama campaign and the remnants of the Dem party should start looking at reforming their coalition- let the Republicans be the party of authoritarians. In the process, the Republicans will lose a pretty good number of their own members, who either vote for Bob Barr (like me) or for Obama, with whom they will have more in common than McCain and the Clintons.

Most likely the Democrats will reunite and the same divisions will persist. Our greatest hope is actually not that the party will fracture at this moment but that the new voters will change the nature of the Democratic Party for the better. Demographics favor this outcome as the views of the younger voters will have dominance over those of the older Democratic voters as long as they turn out to vote as they have in the primaries.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Joseph Eulo says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like John McCain too; he seems to be a great guy, personable, likable, a kind of guy that you could invite over to a BBQ. Yeah sure, I respect him for his military service. No it doesn’t bother me that he graduate in the bottom 5% of his class from the Naval Academy, (hey I dropped out of High school) or that he crashed 4 planes,(I crashed my car twice) or even that he was shot down on his first mission over Vietnam,(hey, I’m three time loser) or even the that he started singing like a bird when captured by the NVA, without being tortured, or that he cheated on his wife, while in office, and is trying to portray himself as the candidate for family values, hey who am I to judge, I’ve mad my fair share of mistakes and then some, so who am I to judge McCain for his.

    What really gets me is that some of your readers, won’t name any names, (hint:on a 2001 car trip to Florida), spoke about how Bush was going to do this, and bush was going to do that, and how the economy was going to be better. What happened? We started out with a surplus and eight years later were going to end up with the biggest deficit by a president ever recorded in history, and McCain supported Bush 95% of the time.

    Our economy has tanked, our Gas Prices have skyrocketed and everything from the cost of food to diapers has gotten insanely expensive. I won’t mention how many Americans lost their jobs, or the tax breaks to companies that ship American Jobs overseas. Maybe those of you that are well off can afford the basic necessities, or have a nest egg to carry you over until the economy gets better, but many Americans, including myself cannot.

    We went to war in IRAQ on a LIE, remember WMDs, 4,146 soldiers are dead 30,182 wounded for a LIE .How did Americans get duped into agreeing to spend 12 Billion a month in Iraq for a war that shouldn’t even be? So far we spent $368 billion on military operations, $45 billion more in veterans care, diplomatic services, training with that type of money we could of rebuilt the nation’s Infrastructure, invested in alternative energy and established our own Universal Healthcare.

    Come on, be honest, when “W” changed his focus from looking for Bin Laden in Afghanistan to invading Iraq, you weren’t all scratching your head thinking “why in the hell are we doing that?” Intelligent and hardworking Americans such as yourselves?, didn’t have any doubt about that decision? OK, ok, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

    What about when the excuse for invading Iraq was proven to be a LIE, WMDs? How about then? Were you outraged? No. no, you just voted him back into office for another four years, with the excuse, “Well,we want him to finish what he started.” What!? Come on, wake up! If that was any other American, he would be in prison.

    John McCain has been in Washington for a long time, twenty-six years and nothing’s has changed. He is out of touch with reality. He doesn’t even understand economics and even admits it himself,

    “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” McCain said on December 17 in New Hampshire, http://lburl.com/idd0k

    I’m astounded, How can smart, Intelligent, hardworking people want McCain for president? Don’t get me wrong, I like John McCain, even after all the crappy things he has done, even after all his flopping around on issues like a fish out of water, I like him, just not as my Next President!

    I am 36, and this will be my first election that I will vote in: presidential or otherwise. It’s Time for a change in Washington.

    It’s time for a president for the people, from the people, someone who has seen the same hardships that we have, made the same kind of sacrifices we made, and works hard for success, Think about that  when you cast your ballot in November.

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