For years now, leaders in the Democratic Party have been touting demographics as destiny. With the continuously evolving population in America, it would be just a matter of time before the GOP would not have the numbers to compete electorally with Democrats.
As it stands now, that is true. We have heard for decades that Georgia, Texas and North Carolina will soon become blue states.
With Georgia, the dominance of the Democrat-leaning city of Atlanta puts the Peach State on the verge of going back into the blue column. In Texas, the growth of the Latino population has the Lone Star State poised for conversion. And in North Carolina, demographics combined with the state’s philosophical move away from the South and more toward the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. has it trending blue.
With those three states in the column for the Democratic Party, it would be nearly impossible for another Republican president to get elected.
Republicans have tried to head off this trend by catering to Latino voters, as we have seen with immigration policy. They have invested time and resources into other minority communities as well.
None of that has worked. Republicans cannot divorce themselves from who they are, and for now, the Republican brand is not one that has broad appeal among those voters.
It’s over, right? Democrat majorities for generations! The GOP will be relegated to a handful of states in flyover country, like Alabama — and who really cares about Alabama anyway?
Not so fast.
In 2020, if you had to define the common threads for Democrats, what would they be? Utter disdain for President Donald Trump would be at the top of the list.
But what are the Democratic Party’s priorities?
Beyond defeating Trump, it isn’t very easy to articulate what the Democratic Party is. Is it environmentalism? If so, is it clean air and water, or remaking the economy with something like the Green New Deal? Is it universal healthcare? What about LGBTQ rights? Is it African American empowerment, and something like reparations for slavery?
Or is it full-fledged, European-style democratic socialism? Do we take the successes of FDR’s New Deal and double- or triple-down on them? If so, how?
It was not that long ago that “socialism” and “communism” were words you avoided in American politics. Technically, socialism and communism are not the same things, but that is not the perception among American voters.
Perhaps times have changed, and some are open to the idea of a conversion to socialism, as demonstrated by the success of the presidential run of Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.
However, is the Democratic Party entirely on board with this radical conversion of the economy? Even if it is, does that make the Democratic Party a viable option on a national ballot, if it is the party of socialism?
These are the questions with which the Democratic Party is grappling. It should have already happened, but given the presidential politics of the last three national election cycles, Democrats have not had the opportunity.
The last contentious Democratic presidential primary came in 2008. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had a slugfest to the end. Even in that contest, it seemed to be more about identity politics. Nonetheless, Obama prevailed.
With an incumbent Obama in 2012 and a path paved for Clinton in 2016, the Democratic Party put off defining the itself through the primary election process. Now that 2020 is here, all the “ideas” are on the stage, and we will know what the Democratic Party is once they have selected a nominee.
In the aftermath, can the Democratic Party be unified? Is it possible to maintain such a wide array of disparate groups as one political party and win elections? Diversity, at least in the arena of politics, is not necessarily a strength. Human nature will not allow it.
Ideally, being all things to all people would win a lot of elections. At some point, something had to give.
Yes, the Democratic Party may have numbers on the Republican Party. And for now, Republicans have the benefit of the Electoral College to win elections.
The Democratic Party, especially in this primary season, looks as if it could split. The big tent ideal is one to strive for in theory. In practice, it is much more difficult.
Consider what is going on in the United Kingdom. The Labour Party puts up unelectable candidates in national elections. If the Democrats put up Sanders, and he winds up being the reincarnation of George McGovern, who lost in a 49-state Electoral College landslide to Richard Nixon, then what?
It is not unthinkable that in the end, the Democratic Party could split in two. With a divided Democratic Party, the GOP would have the numbers and win elections.
Yes, the identity of the country is changing. But it is not a given that identity will mesh wholly with the modern Democratic Party.
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