That’s the title of a recent Politico (sorry) long piece that tries to make the case that the activist base of the Democratic Party have taken the party over. It is an interesting article and worth the read. Part of the motivation of this piece seems to be in making the point that Hillary Clinton won’t have as much room to ignore the activist base as other Presidential candidates could. I’m not sure that’s true — largely because the activist base hasn’t been able to translate its agenda to the Democrats in Congress (yes, there are some, but there isn’t as much of a block as could influence White House policy). And because Democrats in Congress aren’t nearly as beholden to their voting base as they are to their check-writing base. But we already knew that I’m a major cynic on that point.
Much of the Pat Buchanan Culture War is lost or on its way to being lost. But the more populist agenda that Americans of both parties seem to favor is largely missing from the day to day work of Democrats in power. There’s lots of good rhetoric, but not much taken up in terms of legislation that takes on the rebalancing of power that needs to happen between corporations and flesh and blood people. Heck, I don’t even hear much criticism of the Republicans who have been ground zero of making sure that Congress does not work, and I wonder how Dems will make their case without making sure that folks know just how destructive the GOP has been. Because if you care about a more populist agenda, you need a Congress that will address that. The author of this piece defines a left-populist agenda as:
These progressive forces are coalescing around a populist-inspired desire to combat income inequality and rein in large financial institutions, as well as an interest in focusing on priorities at home rather than abroad. It’s difficult, in this environment, to imagine a viable Democratic presidential candidate who isn’t willing to take clear positions on issues like increasing the minimum wage, securing comprehensive immigration reform, supporting women’s health and their reproductive rights, addressing climate change and eliminating or at least curtailing fracking.
That’s a populist agenda that gets alot of support (with a couple of exceptions) on both sides of the aisle. Still, I see plenty of Dems who are skating by on their support for cultural freedoms but who don’t say much (and certainly don’t vote for) a more populist agenda. Certainly the number of legislators that sound like Elizabeth Warren aren’t increasing and don’t seem to be on a path to increasing anytime soon. So as long as that is the case, how can you make the case that the left has taken over the Democratic Party?