The Battle Within the Democratic Party
A schism between moderates and liberals over economic inequality is the first front in defining a post-Obama platform.
Molly Ball Dec 23 2013, 8:00 AM ET
Things are not going well for Democrats. Riding high just weeks ago after Republicans shut down the government, the party now finds itself in a swoon: President Obama’s ratings have hit an all-time low. The implementation of healthcare reform remains a mess. Vulnerable Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from the White House, and the party is on track to lose seats in the House and Senate next year.
Parties in distress tend to fall to bickering, and today’s Democrats are no exception. On one side, liberals calling for a muscular agenda of government expansion and progressive taxation; on the other, centrists who believe restraint is necessary in both policy and politics. Progressives have been emboldened by liberal victories like that of the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. Centrists fear that liberals will drive the party out of the American mainstream with their talk of income redistribution and political correctness.
In the post-Obama era and without an incumbent on the ticket, “Where does the party go?” Jon Cowan, president of the centrist think tank Third Way, asked me. “I think that is going to be an incredibly heated debate.”