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7/12/17

USA: The Democratic Party Meltdown—What Are We Going to Do? D. Hazen, K. Holloway, S. Rosenfeld

If you pay any attention to media and politics, you know that this is the season for hand wringing about the future Democratic Party.

Pundits and pollsters by the dozens have weighed in on the failures of the party, which resulted in devastating losses to Republicans, affirmed the successes of their rampant gerrymandering, and continued the legislative and executive dominance across the country by conservatives in many states, some formally blue ones.

Then there was the election. There are many theories about why Hillary Clinton suffered what for many was an incomprehensible loss. (We offered a list last year.) But the super shock of the Democratic debacle at virtually every level of government (not to mention the Supreme Court) has sent everyone desperately seeking answers and solutions to dig out of the immense hole.

This, of course, is a serious situation. But we need some perspective. The issues roiling the debate among Democrats aren’t exactly new—how progressive and populist versus how mainstream do nominees have to be to be elected president? How much should the party invest in the base of communities of color, single women, and millennials versus how, and how much, should it try to engage white working- and middle-class voters? These are questions and challenges that stretch back decades to the McGovern debacle in 1972, to Jimmy Carter vs. Ted Kennedy in 1980, to Jesse Jackson’s stirring 1980s campaigns for president, to the 1990s and Bill Clinton’s centrist politics and the famous Sister Souljah moment—a pre-Trump telegraphing of support to whites.

The 2016 election reminded us that racism, sexism and creeping authoritarianism are very much with us as a society. How do we grapple in opposition, with a most despised man sitting in the White House?

Interestingly, international politics provides an exciting context for what might happen next in the U.S. Right-wing populism was gaining ground and adherents across Europe, but was successfully beaten back in France, where Emmanuel Macron started a party from scratch and established a newly branded version of center-left French politics with a corporate tint. In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn ran as an unabashed progressive socialist in Britain and pushed back very successfully against the pro-Brexit, conservative Theresa May. Echoes of Bernie vs. Hillary? Not a perfect analogy, but some resonance.

Read more: OMG! The Democratic Party Is Such a Mess—What Are We Going to Do? | Alternet

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