posted at 3:21 pm on February 24, 2017 by John Sexton
The sharp schism in the Democratic party between establishment types who sided with Hillary Clinton and progressives who supported Bernie Sanders has not gone away in the past three months. One area where the divide still rages is in the race for the DNC chairmanship.
Keith Ellison is the progressive choice being supported by Sanders himself. As Ed noted yesterday, Ellison is already taking a far left line, pushing for impeachment of President Trump (who has also offered a semi-endorsement of Ellison). But moderates in the party don’t like Ellison much. Case in point, today Alan Dershowitz wrote a piece for the Hill threatening to leave the party if Ellison becomes chairman:
There has been powerful push from the hard-left of the Democratic Party, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to elect Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) chairman. If he is elected, I will quit the party after 60 years of loyal association and voting…
My loyalty to my country and my principles and my heritage exceeds any loyalty to my party. I will urge other like-minded people — centrist liberals — to follow my lead and quit the Democratic Party if Ellison is elected chairman. We will not be leaving the Democratic Party we have long supported. The Democratic Party will be leaving us!
Dershowitz goes on to say that selecting Ellison would be following in the footsteps of “Jeremy Corbyn’s labor party in England.” Dershowitz warns that doing so will result in “the Democratic Party relegated to permanent minority status as a hard-left fringe.”
The DNC race is not the only place this divide between moderates and the hard left is evident. Today Politico Magazine published an opinion piece by Leah Hunt-Hendrix. She argues progressive donors should stop supporting the moderate, Clinton-allied empire of David Brock:
Brock’s recent machinations—including a January conference where he promoted his own organizations amid chatter that he’ll launch a Koch Brothers-style donor network—show that he and those like him have no interest in learning from or adapting to what the country needs in this moment. Establishment figureheads are calling for Democrats to unify behind a common agenda, but it’s an old agenda with amorphous values, one that is more focused on defeating the right than on creating an economy and society that lifts up all people.
Brock is just one part of a broader constellation of insider efforts to maintain the dominance of the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party against a rising progressive populism.
The author writes that the party mush present “a radically progressive economic agenda that offers a vision for transforming the financial industry and guaranteeing dignified jobs.” It’s not entirely clear what radical vision she is talking about but it sounds a lot like Sanders-style socialism. As I’ve suggested before, that is the likely future of the party.
The Democratic party remains at war with itself. Both sides of the divide are saying it’s time to take their money and go home if they don’t get what they want. Well-heeled moderates like Dershowitz will walk away if the party goes hard left. Meanwhile, the hard left wants to see progressive donors hold back from giving to moderate aligned groups like those run by David Brock. Whichever side wins at tomorrow’s DNC election, the party itself seems likely to take a hit.