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.