The unity started falling apart during the 2016 presidential race. The party was split between the progressive supporters of socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and the more traditional Democrats who backed Hillary Clinton. The split intensified after it was revealed that Clinton was given answers during a debate and was the favored choice of the super delegates and the leadership of the Democratic National Committee.
Basically, Sanders had no chance to win the nomination in 2016. While many of the Senator’s followers eventually supported Clinton against Trump in the general election, a sizeable number either flipped to Trump, voted for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein or boycotted the election altogether and did not vote.
As a new presidential election has begun, the Democrats are splintered among almost two dozen candidates. The members of the more traditional wing of the party are backing former Vice President Joe Biden, while the progressives are either supporting Sanders again, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
While Biden was the initial favorite in the early polls, his lead has been dramatically reduced since a poor debate performance. He is also trying to switch his position on several issues to satisfy the angry progressives who don’t trust him or any old guard Democrat.
This split is also easily viewed in Congress between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the four progressive “women of color” who were elected in 2018. These progressive women are not particularly supportive of Pelosi and feel she has been targeting them for unfair criticism.
It reached a boiling point over disagreements related to a bipartisan border spending bill. The group of four, which U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) calls her “squad” voted against the bill. Pelosi said that despite “their public whatever and their Twitter world” they only mustered four votes in opposition to the bill. According to Pelosi, this “squad” is only “four people” without much support in Congress, although they have a large social media following.
This insult led Ocasio-Cortez to label Pelosi a racist and in an interview with The Washington Post, she complained that Pelosi’s criticism was “just outright disrespectful...the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
The division will surely continue because Pelosi represents the type of Democratic Party Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” are trying to destroy. It is the same division that is apparent in the presidential race.
If Biden wins the nomination, with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as the top Democrats in Congress, the progressives will be completely shut out of the power positions once again. At that point, there is real potential for the party to split apart. The progressive wing does not want to be appeased; they want control of the Democratic Party.
This infighting is certainly increasing the chances that President Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]