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Will Progressive Dems Sink the Whole Party in the Midterms?

Will Progressive Dems Sink the Whole Party in the Midterms?
U.S. Senate candidate, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D- Los Angeles, speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

By Monday, 05 March 2018 01:17 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A new day has dawned in the Democratic Party and the operative word is “progressive.” The term has different connotations to different people. The party hopes a majority of Americans gravitate to the positive side of the definition.

Nevertheless, the new far-left, liberal wing of the Democrats is fully empowered with energy and cash. Their brand of politics is bound to deepen fissures within the party. Their main target is President Donald Trump. Not so much his policies, which appear to be resonating in recent polls, but the man himself.

Democrats come into the midterm elections this November a deeply divided and wounded party. In just eight short years, they have managed to lose their majority in the House and Senate, and now the presidency in a stunning election.

The drums of discontent from the left are loud and clear. Progressive activists are openly challenging fellow, more traditional Democrats. They hope to reshape the party after the humiliating Hillary Clinton defeat.

Their platform includes issues like single-payer healthcare, $15 minimum wage, and unequivocal support for women's reproductive rights. Their support is loud and active. But will the issues be a ticket to broad support nationwide or within certain defined areas of the country?

The tension between the far left and moderates is creating party disunity. Will it result in a party that loses relevance with the majority of voting Americans? The State of Texas may be the first test of where the political winds blow.

The Democratic Congressional Committee (DCCC) is highly critical of their party’s challenger to Houston-area Republican Rep. John Culberson. They consider journalist and activist Laura Moser too liberal for the district.

Moser is supported by a variety of progressive groups including Credo, Our Revolution, and Justice Democrats. They dismiss reports that Credo is considered too much of an insider in Washington. A petition was started that demanded DCCC chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) “stop undermining progressive values.”

Is this the first indication of open dissention in the Democratic ranks? Is this a direct derivative of the humiliating loss to Donald Trump in 2016?

Nina Turner, the president of Our Revolution thinks so. The avowed Bernie Sanders supporter recently said, "The DCCC has lost touch with its base. Despite facing continued losses, they have yet to realize that the path to the majority requires supporting diverse candidates who hold progressive values. The majority of Democrats, and many independent voters, support Medicare for All and banning assault rifles.”

The man in the middle is Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez, a notorious hot head since his fight to run the DNC against Keith Ellison. Although very left in his politics, he can see the division taking shape and it is his job to clear the air. But he is already an outspoken spokesman for many of the far left’s agenda. Can he heal the divide?

The DCCC remains stoic in their opposition to Moser. They believe she is a poor candidate for the general election in a conservative state such as Texas. The progressives are committed to fighting in every district of the country, no matter what the odds for victory are.

Culberson has held the seat for nearly two decades. Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016 by a razor-thin margin. But the mainstream thinking is that wasn’t accomplished because of extreme liberal ideas.

Due to a host of candidates, more than likely no one will achieve the 50 percent necessary to avoid a run-off. The top two vote-getters will face each other May 22. Perhaps a compromise can be found to avoid party disunity.

The same scenario of deration can be found with similar political circumstances throughout the country for the Democratic Party. The “new” Democrats now compete with the older traditional moderates. The situation is unique for the party since last year the consensus was to only back abortion rights candidates.

The Democrats face a similar one Republicans had a decade ago with the rise of the ultra-conservative Tea Party. Their political power unseated more than a few traditional incumbents during their peak of power.

A good example of that will be in California. There has been a noticeable shift to the left in the Senate race. Some Democrats want a more left-leaning agenda they do not believe incumbent Diane Feinstein will deliver. The state liberals have delivered the party supermajorities in the state legislature.

Feinstein has served 25 years in the Senate. At 84 years old, the youth movement of progressives feels she has been soft on their arch enemy, Donald Trump. She recently failed to get their endorsement at the California Democratic Party’s convention in San Diego.

Her main rival was far-left state Senate leader Kevin de León. (He got 54 percent of the vote. But since he fell below the 60-percent threshold, neither candidate won the endorsement. Odds are in Feinstein’s favor moving forward, but the unity will be split.)

De León is an ardent backer of universal healthcare. He would sign onto the bill introduced by socialist Bernie Sanders creating a single-payer healthcare system. Feinstein opposed such legislation last year.

Throngs may be cheering in California for this further move left. But has the movement gone too far? Will it alienate voters and be the cause of further slippage in a party that can ill-afford any more?

Republicans have naturally utilized this discourse for their advantage. Trump’s numbers continue to move upward and the nation’s economy is booming. Fringe issues rarely supersede good economic numbers at the ballot box. There is no doubt the Democrats are divided. The question this year is how much?

Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. is an award-winning national political and foreign affairs columnist and published author. He has spent over 35 years in the publishing industry. His long-running articles include many years at Examiner.com and currently Newsblaze.com. Dwight is an author of two highly acclaimed books, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selected Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014" and "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Election in History." He is a native of Portland, Oregon, a journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, and a resident of the SF Bay Area. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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A new day has dawned in the Democratic Party and the operative word is “progressive.” The term has different connotations to different people. The party hopes a majority of Americans gravitate to the positive side of the definition.
progressive, democrats, moderate, feinstein
Monday, 05 March 2018 01:17 PM
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