The Democratic Party is gearing up for a showdown between the centrists and those who support Senator Bernie Sanders and his anti-establishment agenda. The centrist wing of the party believes that the attention shown to Sander’s supporters will do more harm than good.
As the party faces huge expectations in the 2018 mid-term elections, the concern is that the Sanders momentum will only energize liberals in places where Democrats would already win by big margins.
A group called the New Democracy has surfaced, it is a combination of a think tank and a super PAC. They are trying to reimagine the party’s brand in regions where Democrats have had losses. The group is focusing on rebuilding in states where during the previous presidency, Democrats lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats and more than a dozen governor’s elections.
“Our most important work will be done outside of Washington,” Will Marshall, founder of New Democracy, said in an interview.
In Washington, the effort of the New Democracy is being seen as “supplemental” to the “Better Deal” which is being crafted on Capitol Hill by leading Democrats. But the New Democracy leadership said that the “Better Deal” does not appeal to Democrats in exurban districts or Midwestern states.
“That is an accurate reflection of many Democrats who represent deep blue districts. But it has limited appeal beyond the coasts,” Marshall said.
The centrists in the party fear that their agenda will be tuned out by voters in the heartland if it is accompanied by the party’s increasing embrace of decidedly liberal positions on cultural matters, including abortion rights and transgender issues.
Marshall was involved in a similar movement after Democrats lost three straight presidential elections in the 1980s through the Democratic Leadership Council and its offshoot, the Progressive Policy Institute. He helped create the ideas that were successful in the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, who became the first two-term Democratic president in the White House since FDR.
Several dozen Democrats have aligned with New Democracy, including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), a rising star in the House.
At the core of the New Democracy message is to move away from casting blame and promote the kind of optimistic tone that characterized the Bill Clinton and Obama campaigns. They also want to move away from the cultural elitism that is found in urban liberals. They fear that the heartland voters simply do not embrace the Democratic message anymore.
“The party’s gotten a little too comfortable with its urban and coastal strongholds,” Marshall said. The New Democracy mission statement is decidedly blunt in their assessment, warning that both parties have engaged in “a civically corrosive form of identity politics” and that Democrats should “avoid vilifying people whose social views aren’t as ‘progressive’ as we think they should be.”
“For many working class and rural voters, the party’s message seems freighted with elite condescension for traditional values (especially faith) and lifestyles,” the group says.
What do you think about the direction the New Democracy is taking within the Democratic Party?
Credit: Washington Post