A political realignment is in the works. I’ve alluded to this in a previous blog, but now there’s real news on the topic. AFL-CIO has started playing hardball with the Democrats, and may wind up building an organized version of the TEA Party for the Left. This is only one of several undercurrents that are shifting in America today. Let’s get into what’s going on, and why I think these schisms will eventually be beneficial to America.
This will be the first in a three-part series on the political changes in America, addressing the Democrats’ situation. I’ll talk about Republicans and secular trends and issues in the upcoming installments. Here are the Democrats’ fault lines in the coming political earthquake:
First, unions and Democrats have had a schism in this state for a while. Union leadership has become tired of inaction with their money, setting up a DIME PAC here in Washington State, and in the current economic turmoil, at least some democrats have returned the favor.
The national political landscape is being moved as well. Public unions have been the one type of unions that have grown in the last decade, but is one of the less-universally-supported types, and it is giving unions as a whole a less palatable flavor politically. Unions have been the largest contributors to Democrat SuperPACs, but the fact that DEMOCRAT SuperPAC’s exist bothers many on the Left. The Huffington Post Reports on the divide between those who think SuperPACs represent what Democrats oppose, and those who are going to use them because Republicans are.
There are several issues tearing at the Democratic coalition. Group these problems under “Union Malaise.”
Secondly, and more importantly, President Obama isn’t working out. Heaven has not come to earth, the rise of the seas has not been halted, social programs are being ruled unconstitutional, soldiers are still getting killed downrange, and pragmatism doesn’t work when you view it as incongruent with Hope. Losing takes a toll on coalitions, as factions (much more divided in the Democrat party) view each other suspiciously, and re-examine their role and relationships within the American political realm.
This is key, because one Democrat strategy in the past had been to assimilate a cause, and co-opt its leadership to partisan political operatives. There is now real tension felt by members and leadership of unions, minority groups, women’s rights groups and LGBT activists, between their stated goals and the demands of the Party.
Thirdly, interest groups themselves are being challenged, and not in the way that rallies everyone together. Feminists have to confront the concept of prominent female conservatives. The vicious attacks felt by Sarah Palin (the early-on ones, during the 2010 campaign, not the ones she earned on her own later) were indicative of the threat she posed to the political solidarity of women’s rights groups. Feminists found themselves pushing against air, fighting nothing. There was no argument on the Republican side as to the qualifications of a woman, and therefore no reason to fight, nothing to rally against. Democrat interest groups cannot continue asking for money and supporters without a bogeyman, and the internal re-tooling of various rights groups to reflect the new age will diminish the Democrat Party. This is good for the interest groups: they have won, in many cases. Women and minorities have run for office, legitimately, and hold a serious place in the conversation. But it’s very bad for the current Democrat coalition: Republicans can’t take the blame anymore, and there’s less to dish out overall.
Expect targeted moderation by Republicans to splice the factions in the Democrat Party, and a continued love-hate relationship between unions and both parties. Once unions break ranks, they will see a nuanced world out there, and new political opportunities on a case-by-case basis. My money would be on these two fault lines breaking at the Democrats for the next three years. We’ll examine the Republicans next, and how Democrats could sink their whole battleship.