Dem identity crisis? Not so much

It's much easier to be a Republican than a Democrat these days. The Republican Party under Donald J. Trump stands for basically one thing: keeping American white. Everything else is irrelevant: deficits, national security, clean air, you name it. No need to try to meld conflicting or disparate visions. Just keep The Other at bay and don't worry about any other details. Democrats, on the other hand, need to worry about how to prioritize income and wealth inequality, the environment, health care premiums, systemic racism and sexism, and a whole host of other societal ills. We're a big tent, and sometimes that means a little internal conflict.

Often fretting about whether the party should embrace its progressive side or stick closer to the center can get out of control, especially when someone surprises us by winning a primary they weren't supposed to win. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. In times like these, we need voices of reason. The ever-wise E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post quotes an equally sage Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016:

“Democrats should not blush too much, or pay too much heed, when political commentators arch their eyebrows about the party moving left.”

Yes, Ocasio-Cortez is a progressive's progressive, and those of us who share her political vision are heartened by her imminent and inevitable election to the House of Representatives, thanks to the fact that her district is heavily Democrat. But she's the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America to win a primary contest. Just about everywhere else, moderates are proving just as capable of galvanizing "the base." Think Pennsylvania and Alabama, to name just two. There are lots more, and the districts in this corner of North Carolina belong in that category for good reason.

The truth is, diversity is strength. In some districts we can afford to push the envelope. In others, it pays to stick close to the middle. And thanks to Trump, only the Democratic Party has that kind of flexibility now. I say, vive la difference.

 


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