“The Party Is Not Progressive”

Where to begin, where to begin? How about we start with this piece in the Washington Post by Michael Scherer, Gregory S. Schneider, and David Weigel. Apparently, more progressive candidates aren’t faring that well in primary elections:

Democratic primary voters have been turning away this year from the anti-elite furies that continue to roil Republican politics, repeatedly choosing more moderate candidates promising steady leadership over disrupters from the party’s left wing.

Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, which brought the renomination of former governor Terry McAuliffe and primary losses by three of the Democrats’ most outspoken liberal delegates, only underscored a pattern that was previously apparent in special House elections in Louisiana and New Mexico. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a moderate Democrat, won his party’s nomination without a challenge from the left after two protest candidates failed to collect the 1,000 signatures needed for ballot access.

In the crowded Democratic primary in New York City, a similar crop of contenders, including Eric Adams and Andrew Yang, have emerged as front-runners by pushing platforms that include an embrace of police as an essential component of public safety, a far cry from the “defund the police” mantra that some liberal activists embraced in 2020.

I wish they wouldn’t equate “liberal” and “progressive”. I don’t think it’s correct to say this is different from the “anti-elite furies that continue to roil Republican politics” but rather it’s pretty much the Democratic version of the same phenomenon. Is there actually such a thing as a “political establishment” in either party these days? If so I think the rank-and-file of both parties are reacting against their respective establishments. The Democratic leadership is more progressive than the rank-and-file Democrats and Americans, generally, tend to be pragmatic rather than ideological. Here’s another telling snippet:

“There is nothing wrong with being one of those trailblazers who shakes up the status quo, but you can do it in a way that brings people along with you,” said Michelle Maldonado, a small-business owner from Bristow, Va., who defeated the state House of Delegates’ only self-described democratic socialist in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. “Prac-tactical — you’ve got to be practical and tactical at the same time.”

Such rhetoric has left some liberal politicians fuming, as they see the dream of remaking the Democratic Party slipping away like it did during the 2020 presidential campaign, when perceived electability became the most valued commodity and voters coalesced around Joe Biden.

“People like myself who are grass-roots-funded, who don’t take corporate money, are not able to compete effectively,” said Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah (Fairfax), another disruptive liberal who lost in the primary Tuesday after his opponent was endorsed by centrist leaders. “The party is not progressive.”

That’s right. Try as they might to convince themselves otherwise only about 25% to 50% of Democrats are progressives.

Note that Terry McAuliffe, who is handily cruising to re-election is

  1. a known quantity and
  2. a Clintonista rather than a Bernie Bro

It does raise an interesting question: why is the Biden Administration’s stated agenda so progressive but progressives just aren’t doing that well at the polls? More on this question after a few posts.

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