The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Two Democratic Parties

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notices that Hillary Clinton is doing a little better in Iowa than she did in 2008, worse in New Hampshire, and her lead over Bernie Sanders is shrinking faster than it did against Barack Obama.

Our Charlie Cooke sees a distinct possibility history will repeat itself: “It is not impossible to imagine a similar decline this year, nor to conceive of the brutal snowball effect that could deprive Clinton once again of the only real ambition she has ever held. First, she would lose Iowa; then she would lose New Hampshire; and then, inspired by the muttering and the grumbling and the inexorable sense of déjà vu, a critical endorsement would go the other way.”

We hear a lot about the divide between the grassroots and the “Establishment” in the Republican Party, but Democrats have the same divide over priorities and worldview. A quick sketch…

Members of the Democratic base believe they’ve been given a raw deal by life. Whether or not they actually are poor (many are), they feel poor, and they feel that they’re barred from changing their circumstances. They believe they’ve been victimized by sexism, racism, and all manner of social discrimination. Their circumstances are a result of malevolence from powerful forces in American life, and not a predictable consequence of their own life choices.

They could have and should been great successes in life, but they were stymied at every turn by malignant forces out to keep them down. If it wasn’t their teacher and their schools failing to recognize their great potential, then it was their bosses and their employers. Cops hassle them for no reason.

The only remedy they see is for the government to give them things that they find too expensive: higher education, health care, child care – all of that should be free. Housing is expensive, too; the government should let them hold off on paying their mortgages as long as they feel squeezed. The rich should pay for all this, as they’ve got the money, and what do they need it for, anyway? The Democratic base knows it’s as smart and hard-working as Bill Gates and those fat-cat CEOs. There should be a revolution — then those millionaire and billionaires who think they’re so smart wouldn’t be so smug.

The Democratic elite is — well, elite. Life has been good to them. They may trash corporate greed, but they’ve already made their fortunes. Of course taxes should be raised to pay for everything — they can afford it, and they’ll talk to Wilkins the accountant to make sure they get every deduction they can. The country is doing well under Obama — he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for turning everything around. The real worry is how bad climate change is getting — why can’t Obama hurry up and just create cap and trade by executive order? Their broker says they could make a killing in the solar panel and wind industries, particularly with the subsidies. That new Tesla model looks terrific. Really, this country could be in a much better spot if they could just control all those backwards rednecks and their guns — really, in all their years of living in this gated community, they’ve never felt the need to own a gun. And somebody’s got to stop those xenophobes who are screaming about the Mexicans. Maria is the best maid they’ve ever had, how could anyone hate her?

Sanders is closer to what the base wants, Clinton is closer to what the elites want.

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