A while ago, some asshole with a blog noted this about the Democratic Party:
The Democratic Party consists of two parties.
One is what used to be called liberal Democrats and is the Sanders-Warren wing of the party (I would include Sen. Sherrod Brown as a more moderate member of this wing). The other is what used to be called liberal Republicans, and is the Klobuchar-Bloomberg-Biden wing of the party. It’s worth realizing these are parties and not ‘wings’, since there is quite a bit of diversity within in each wing.
The key point, however, is that, if the Republican Party were not a cesspool of Christian white nationalist theocrats, recidivist segregationists, and batshitloonitarian Ayn Randian libertarians, what is the functional equivalent of two political parties would not have to be amalgamated into one party.
Sahil Kapur makes a similar point at greater length (boldface mine):
It is evident in the closing messages of the front-runners. Joe Biden, Obama’s former vice president who frequently evokes him, proposes in an op-ed to “set America back on a path of decency, respect, and lasting progress.” Bernie Sanders uses footage of FDR in a recent ad denouncing “half-measures” and saying that “America is best when we strive to do big things, even when it’s hard.”
On one side is an older and moderate cohort drawn to pitches by Biden — and to an extent, Pete Buttigieg — of finding common ground and unifying the country. Challenging them is a younger and re-energized left that wants a more aggressive nominee like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren who will seek to bust corporate power, expand the safety net and finish the project FDR began.
“Senator Sanders is the fulfillment of the FDR legacy,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., one of his prominent endorsers. “I believe we are at a moment in history where, post-Trump, we could see the dawn of a new progressive era. If you believe that moment hasn’t come and we just need to defeat Trump and return to normalcy, then Vice President Biden is offering that choice.”
Moderates have dominated the party ever since Bill Clinton won in 1992 by recapturing the political center after Democrats suffered three landslide defeats in the 1980s. But in recent years the left has found its way out of the wilderness and moved ideas such as Medicare for All, free public college and a $15 minimum wage from the left fringes of the party into the mainstream.
“It’s going to have major consequences if the FDR side of the party wins. It shifts the paradigm completely. We will essentially be shifting to a more socialist form of government,” said Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “The Obama wing of the party has a totally different vision of how to achieve shared goals than the FDR wing of the party.”
Elrod said a victory by Sanders would likely push economically moderate voters out of the party while also bringing in enough voters who have felt alienated by traditional Democratic Party politics to “pull together a winning coalition if he’s the nominee.”
“There are a lot of Democrats who still feel like this country is not fighting for them and our government is not fighting for them. They think the Obama administration didn’t do enough and they look at Bernie and say, let’s have full fledged Medicare for All,” she said. “Let’s have free college because myself and my kids are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.”
I think it’s silly to call Hubert Humphrey’s economic plan–with some 21st century updates–socialism, but after forcing liberal Democrats to the margins of the party, here we are*.
This is a fundamental distinction within the party. What remains to be seen is who will be the junior partner: The New Democrats or the New Dealers.
*I saw a prominent Sanders supporter and DSA member argue that, post-election, the DSA should try to get everyone involved in his campaign to join the DSA. Careful what you wish for, actual socialists…