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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Identity Politics Will Boomerang on the Democrats

Dick Morris first pointed it out and it's the main reason why I thought that health care reform would never pass. The Democratic Party is in fact really a collection of factions that all have competing agendas. The far left wing of the party is entirely different from the Blue Dogs. The Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus also have their own agendas. So, trying to put a health care bill together that coalesces all those agendas seemed to always be impossible. Lose even one wing of the party and the Democrats no longer had a majority if the Republicans remained united.

That's essentially what happened and each of the factions began to fight publicly with each other. The public option was the best example. Joe Liberman held it up in the Senate. When the leadership acquiesed, the liberals were enflamed. They accused the moderate Liberman of holding up reform.

Now that the ship is sinking, the identity politics will be on full display and each faction will attempt to exert its will on the party. As the party begins its public disintegration, each faction will attempt to make it known that its way is the way to prosperity. We saw this on election day last Tuesday. With the victory of Scott Brown, the folks at MSNBC said that the election meant that Democrats needed to jam through an uber liberal health care bill. Leaving aside the absurdity of that analysis, MSNBC was accurately verbalizing the view of the Pelosi wing of the party.

Meanwhile, the Blue Dogs want to run as far away from the Obama administration's policies as possible.

As President Obama works on last-minute tweaks to his State of the Union address, there are growing signs of a simmering rebellion among moderates against the Democratic leadership.

"The moderate wing of the Democratic Party is very nervous, and they're starting to defect," political strategist Mark McKinnon, vice chairman of Austin, Texas-based Public Strategies, Inc. tells Newsmax. "They're not going to win any of these key pieces of legislation that are important to Obama's legacy unless they can get those moderates aboard."

Since Senator-elect Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts last week, the president has been taking fire from all sides. House Democrats have voiced frustration that the president hasn't pushed harder for a healthcare compromise. On the right, Weekly Standard columnist Fred Barnes wrote Tuesday that Obama's presidency "is teetering on the edge of a crackup and only Obama can pull it to safety."

If the party doesn't moderate, the Blue Dogs will either not vote with leadership or watch themselves get voted out of office in November. The Congressional Black Caucus has already shown signs of grumbling with the Obama administration and that will only get worse as his presidency spins out of control.

It won't merely be these factions. You'll see the House attacking the Senate. The legislature attacking the Executive branch. Everyone will attack everyone else as each faction attempts to exert control with the party in chaos. The sum total will be a party in chaos and at war with itself. It's yet another reason why their electoral prospects look so awful come November.

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