Long-time political watchers have been shocked in recent months to see formerly powerful Democratic Party leaders ousted by far-left challenges within their own party. The once-proud centrist party of the working class, the Democrats are now a party of the hard left.
Recent events show just how far things have gone:
- 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes beat New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the No. 4 ranking Democrat in the House, in a primary challenge. Despite a series of embarrassing gaffes in just over a week, the Democrat-safe New York district she’s in guarantees she’ll win.
- In California, far left state Senator Kevin de Leon challenged four-term incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the endorsement of the state’s Democratic Party and won hands down, 65% to just 7%. Feinstein, 85, whose liberal credentials are impeccable, wasn’t far left enough, even though she trounced de Leon in the actual primary, 44% to 12%.
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi faces an increasingly open challenge to her leadership in the House. Younger, more radical members of her party now push to replace her with someone from the far left of the party.
- Driving the point home, on July 3 a giddy Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called self-proclaimed democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez “the future of our party.”
These may all seem sudden. But in reality, these shifts have been in the making for years. The Democratic Party of old — mildly liberal but mostly solidly centrist — is a thing of the past.
Sure, today’s Democrats and their allies in the big media talk about the “extreme right” and “ultra right” Republican Party. They call rank and file Republicans racists and nazis.
But, as numerous studies and polls confirm, it’s the Democratic Party that has moved far left — while the Republican Party has more or less remained where it was.
Last year, a Pew report, “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider,” showed that the split between Democrats and Republicans on key political values reached a record during the Obama years and grew “even larger” in President Trump’s first year.
Pew’s methodology was simple. Starting in 1994, they asked Democrats and Republicans where they stood on 10 key issues, ranging from welfare and racial discrimination, to defense and immigration.
The results were stark and unequivocal.
As we reported in October of 2017, “The results show that while the Republican center moved only slightly to the right over the past 23 years, the center of the Democratic part shifted far to the left.”
Likewise, a 2015 academic study by scholars at the University of Oregon, Princeton University and the University of Houston, found that state Democratic parties since the late 1990s have “become more liberal.” But the Republicans, again, haven’t moved ideologically much at all.
There is a deeper history to this, of course. In 1972, the Democratic Convention was hijacked by far-left supporters and delegates for progressive peace candidate George McGovern. Since then, the Democratic Party has been drifting more or less continually to the left.
Of course, during the 1980s, Democrats had to reckon with the popularity and effective leadership of Ronald Reagan. They pulled back toward the center. Moderate and conservative Democrats even helped to pass Reagan’s tax cuts and his defense buildup.
But that reversion to moderation didn’t last.
Change that seemed slow and even imperceptible for years took a quantum leap under President Obama, easily the most left-wing president since FDR.
Under Obama, the Democratic Party wholly embraced his brand of far-left progressivism, based on higher taxes, single-payer health care, bigger government, aggressive enforcement of government diversity initiatives, job-killing climate-change regulations, open borders, the whole panoply of progressive policies.
The fact is, as we’ve noted before, the Democrats for some time have been a party of the far left that only during election season would pretend to be in any way moderate. Now the mask is off.
Today, the party has no true conservatives and it treats even moderates like skunks at a garden party.
Democrats now face a tough future as a more or less socialist party. As President Trump’s victory showed, a large bloc of once-solid moderate Democratic voters will vote for alternatives to the Democrats.
And others whom Democrats think they can rely on to return to power might not be so reliable.
Blacks, Asians and Hispanics enjoy record low or near-record low unemployment rates. And polls show they have increasing confidence in their financial future.
As for Millennials, that 70 million bloc of potential voters, very bad news for the Democrats: A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of 16,000 millennials in May found that their support for Democrats had fallen from 55% to just 46% in just two years. Many of them have found jobs, bought homes and cars, and are starting families.
The Democrats have rolled the dice with their sharp left turn. But no matter what you read in the media, it isn’t the Republicans who’ve become “extreme.” It’s the Democrats.
Ronald Reagan, himself once a proud Democrat, said it best: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”