The latest conflagration was ignited in part by Washington Monthly alum Ryan Cooper’s piece establishing the reasons for economic populist distrust of establishment favorite 2020 hopefuls Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick. Cooper made some valid points about the histories of all three candidates that make many Occupy-aligned Democrats shudder: Booker’s defense of Wall Street and charter schools, Harris’ failure to charge now-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for his crimes with One West Bank, and Deval Patrick’s employment as managing director with Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, for starters. These are not minor complaints.
It is no exaggeration to say that if the Democratic Party fractures in 2020 along the same lines it did in 2016, it may not recover. Votes for Clinton over Sanders notwithstanding, women and minority voters are not ideologically more moderate than whites and men within the party. If the fault lines once again pit more moderate minority candidates against more economically progressive white candidates, the resulting warfare will create the worst of all worlds: watered down economic policy that fails to win back disaffected white working class voters, combined with a bruising primary trading insults that could demotivate both class-conscious millennials and identity-conscious older women and minorities, depending on the eventual victor.
The Democratic party “fractured” in 2016? What kind of wilting flower thinks that? Hillary Clinton had a primary fight. She fought it and won. I think it made her a better candidate. She lost because of foreign and domestic interference in the campaign, plus a few self-inflicted mistakes that every campaign makes (no campaigns are perfect).
Only people who spend their time all day in Twitter fights re-litigating the last election could think the conflagration that matters concerns these three Democrats. Kamala Harris, Deval Patrick and Corey Booker can take care of themselves, and if they can’t, they have no business running for President. If they end up in a primary, we’ll see if they can fight, and if they can articulate a message that will get voters to the polls.
But, on August 6, 2017, with the most important set of Congressional elections in living history a little over a year away, why are we obsessing about the Presidency? The real danger to the Democratic party is our shitty position in statehouses, the House and the Senate. We need to win those back. I want to hear how Booker, Harris, Patrick and every other politician who wants a leadership position in the party thinks we can do that.
This obsession with the Presidency will be the death of us.