Have Democratic Voters Changed, Or Just the Available Slate of Candidates?

Elias Isquith describes how the Democratic Party has moved left (boldface mine):

Of course, as encouraging as Emanuel’s stumble is to the left wing of the Democratic Party, it’d be the height of folly to declare victory over the “third way,” neoliberal approach just yet. Emanuel is quite likely to defeat Garcia now that the two are going one-on-one. And protest votes can have a way of making people think the battle’s been won, when in truth it’s only just started. Nevertheless, if we pair Emanuel’s hollow victory with other recent, successful campaigns from the left — like Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s thwarting of the Antonio Weiss nomination, or Zephyr Teachout’s humbling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — it’s hard to deny that there’s a change happening within the Democratic base.

And for their own sake if nothing else, Hillary Clinton and the other national leaders in the Democratic Party would be wise to pay it attention.

I don’t really think it’s a change in the Democratic base. Instead, Democratic politicians have begun to realize there’s a market for left-leaning political ideas (and ideals). I haven’t changed that much in the grand scheme of things, but twenty years there really weren’t other options in many parts of the U.S. to the Clintonian New Democrat. What you’ll note–and Isquith doesn’t–is that each of these pocket rebellions coalesced around a political figure.

To me, the interesting question is why are Democratic politicians starting to move to the left of Rockefeller Republicanism.

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4 Responses to Have Democratic Voters Changed, Or Just the Available Slate of Candidates?

  1. And this is the reason why those of us who push 3rd party politics keep saying we need more choices at the ballot box. I dunno why Americans are so unwilling to count past two when it comes to politics. When all is said and done, we end up with a representative beholden to corporate interests above their own constituents in 99% of the seats regardless of their party affiliation.

    • chrisj says:

      If you think having an extra party makes any real difference there, you’re sadly mistaken. (Speaking from the UK, where as soon as our third party became relevant, it got bought out by the interests that largely own the main two.)
      The thing that matters is restricting money and lobbying, but it’s very hard to move from a position where campaign donations and corporate interests are the controlling issues to a position where they aren’t, because why would a representative elected on the back of those things choose to help legislate against them?

      • In a country which supposedly prides itself on its form of elective representation, where 40% voter turnout is considered above average, I think the participation of disparate ideas in the electoral process is a necessary first step. I fully agree that getting the dark money out of politics (and private money in general) would change things slightly for the better. And we’ve seen the same thing here in the US with the major parties either corrupting the influence of serious 3rd party challenges or outright stealing their ideas.

        But one of the biggest problems in the US is that in our most extraordinary turnout years, we still barely get above 50% voter turnout. And we have one of the major parties putting up obstacles to prevent even more people from voting. For a lot of people, the only alternative is either not doing enough or does not truly represent them, and we end up with pithy sayings like “lesser of two evils”.

  2. Teachout’s humbling of Cuomo.

    Nothing like content free assertions and a bit of the old self serving exaggeration to convince people that you are full of hot air and can not be relied on for anything, especially when the chips are down in the middle of a serious battle. Run along, vote for Jill Stein or Ralph Nader or whatever feel good stumblebum you like this week, while the intelligent people look forward to ignoring your worthless opinions.

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