Democrats: ‘Unity tour’ for a party in disarray
“If you want to understand the divisions roiling the Democratic Party,” just look to its “unity tour,” said Gregory Krieg in CNN.com. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and new Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez last week barnstormed seven red and purple states to rally anti-Trump resistance and “make a public display of their common cause.” Instead, the tour only highlighted the party’s divisions. At the kickoff event in Maine, Sanders supporters booed Perez and the DNC—which many insist “rigged” the primary for Hillary Clinton. When an interviewer asked Sanders if he’s a Democrat, he replied—on a Democratic unity tour—“No, I am an independent.” While Perez squirmed, the firebrand senator repeatedly blamed the party establishment for losing the election to Donald Trump by failing to embrace his populist insurgency. Six months after the election, the struggle between the party’s centrists and Sandernistas is still raging.
Sanders even “managed to create a rift over abortion rights,” said Bill Scher in RealClearPolitics.com. On the tour, he endorsed Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a pro-life economic populist, but said that Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff—who is pro-choice but fiscally moderate—“is not a progressive.” This revealed Sanders’ litmus test for true progressives: single-payer health care, free college, and a $15 minimum wage are non-negotiable, while a resolute pro-choice stance is not. Sanders is deluded, said Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times. To win the House in 2018, Democrats need to net 24 seats, “and many of the up-for-grabs districts are not natural progressive territory.” Democrats have “to cast a broad net” to take these districts. It’s no time for purity tests.
Democrats face a deeper dilemma, said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine.com. They’ve no idea what they stand for. Opposition to Trump has generated grassroots enthusiasm, but the party lacks leadership—its marquee name is a septuagenarian socialist “who refuses to associate himself” with the brand. Democrats performed no “autopsy” after losing the election “to a former game show host, the most unpopular presidential candidate of the modern age.” They seem mystified why the relatively popular Barack Obama left the party at “a nearly 100-year nadir” of power. Democrats’ sole pitch “to voters outside their urban liberal tent” is to proclaim, “Donald Trump is terrible.” Maybe so, but that’s not enough. ■