Whither the Democrats? Whither the Republicans?

Whither the Democrats? Whither the Republicans? January 6, 2021

Both Democrats and Republicans have decisions to make.

Neither side did as well as they hoped to in the general election.  Republicans lost the presidency, though they did well in congressional and state races.  Democrats won the presidency, though they had hoped for a “blue wave” that would install progressives at every level.

Furthermore, both parties have ideological issues they need to sort out, as well as contending factions that could threaten party unity and get in the way of success with the electorate.

Democrats need to decide whether they will be the party of FDR (big government liberalism with a focus on helping the working class), Bernie Sanders (overt anti-capitalist democratic socialism), Hillary Clinton (woke progressivism with its identity politics and appeal to affluent white college graduates), or Bill Clinton (pragmatic, pro-corporate progressivism).

Will they focus on issues that favor their new affluent constituency, such as forgiving student loans (Hillary Clinton)?  Or will they try to implement new vast federal programs that benefit the masses, such as universal health care (FDR)?  Will they try to destroy the oil industry and tax the rich out of existence (Bernie Sanders)?  Or will they partner with big tech and other big corporations to consolidate their power (Bill Clinton)?

Of course, these different factions are capable of agreeing with each other on these and similar issues, though they will have different reasons for doing so.  But their philosophies are often not compatible with each other.

And can any of them restore their old working class base?  Can any of them truly help black Americans, Hispanics, and the poor, who are important parts of the Democratic base without much to show for it.

As for Republicans, will they be the party of Nelson Rockefeller (the country club, pro-business “rich”), Ronald Reagan (free-market, small government conservatives), or Donald Trump (economic nationalism, working-class base)?

Will they advocate policies that allow big business to do anything they want to do (Rockefeller)?  Promote individual liberty and rein in government spending (Reagan)?  Or break up big tech, restrict free trade, and wage culture wars (Trump)?

Again, these Republican factions can agree on issues, while still being incompatible with each other.

Can any of them find a way to reconcile the interests of business, the Republicans’ former focus, with the interests of their new working class constituency?  Can Republicans find a way to bring more black Americans, Hispanics, and immigrants–groups that tend to be highly religious and culturally conservative–into their tent?

 

Image by chayka1270 from Pixabay 

 

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