Is the Democratic Party led by progressive activists?

(Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Is the Democratic Party led by progressive activists?

On Ed

Jonah Goudberg

November 28, 2023

According to a recent poll from the Democratic firm Blueprint, only 5% of Americans say Joe Biden is much more conservative than I am. Ask yourself: What percentage of Democratic activists, liberal TV hosts, White House staffers, liberal think tankers and donors believe Biden is much more conservative or even slightly more conservative than them? I’d be shocked if the number wasn’t closer to 90%.

In other words, the elites advancing the Democratic Party’s agenda actually believe that Biden is a fairly conservative, old-fashioned centrist Democrat, while even most Democratic voters do not.

But don’t rely on just one poll. In


new book Where everything is

T t

The Democrats Gone, liberal intellectuals Ruy Teixeira and John Judis, argue that the Democratic Party has been led astray by what they call a shadow party of very progressive activists who cannot see through the bubble in which they live.

The book is a corrective to their hugely influential 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority, in which they argued that demographic changes would give Democrats the building blocks for a lasting majority that would replace the old fading FDR coalition. That book seemed prophetic in 2006 and 2008, when Democrats had enormous success in assembling the emerging coalition. Their prediction has not come true since then.

In 2010, Obama’s coalition disappeared. The Democrats lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives. Obama won re-election in 2012, but his coalition shrank from 2008 and the Republican Party held on to the House of Representatives. In 2014, the Democrats lost

nine9s S

enate seats and 13 in the house. And in 2016? Good.

The key to these losses, Teixeira and Judis explain, was the steady exodus of the white working class. In believing that an ironclad version of demography is destiny, Teixeira and Judis never argued that the shadow party felt liberated from the necessity of conventional politics, choosing to prioritize issues that mainstream voters don’t much care about or disdain.

It’s a very human reaction. If you think you’re going to win no matter what, why not treat yourself?

Teixera and Judis focus on four issues that tend to turn off more voters than they attract, at least in the way Democrats frame them: race, immigration, transgenderism and other forms of what they call sexual creationism, and climate change.

None of this is to say that Teixeira and Judis are conservative on these issues. Their point is that by prioritizing extreme framing of these issues to the exclusion of Democrats, traditional economic populism led millions of white working-class voters to feel that Democrats no longer cared about people like them. And now there’s evidence that some non-whites

the working class goes with them.

For example, defunding the police was a compelling idea for the shadow party, but it has little appeal to mainstream voters of any race, who may have problems with police abuse but have little tolerance for crime. Fewer than 1 in 5 African Americans supported the cause. Twice as many wanted to increase

spending on law enforcement.

Obsessed with the intra-party battles, much of which are waged in the media, democratic activists tend to treat any issue hyped by the right as illegitimate. The border crisis may not be the threat Tucker Carlson describes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a crisis. And concerns about illegal immigration don’t make you a racist or nativist.

I deeply disagree with the economic program drawn up by Teixeira and Judis. Unlike them, I am not a fan of FDR’s views on economic rights. But they are convinced that a Democratic Party that tries to find common cause with America’s largest voting blocs will be better for the party and the country than one that focuses on identity politics and white supremacy slogans. The fact is that non-college educated white people

s people

constitute approximately 44% of the electorate



white shape

about two-thirds of registered voters

are white


There is a lesson here for both parties, as both are institutionally weak and can easily be manipulated by their shadow parties. Convinced that their existing base is all they need and any attempt to increase their appeal by watering

On their agenda is capitulation to the enemy. They have come to the conclusion that it is better to rule with a narrow, vulnerable government


majority than to govern with a broad majority.

But the surest way to guarantee lasting political progress is not to win a single election, but to build a sustainable majority. That means serving the interests of voters, not dictating to them while insisting that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist or racist.


Trump says: mine.



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