The Democrats have always been left
The Democrats are famous for enjoying internal party debates. On the one hand, this sets them apart from the Republicans, who have become a stupid Trump party. On the other hand, the Democrats sometimes discuss with such passion that an outsider might get the impression that the party is in fact deeply divided.
Such a situation is looming in the party at the moment. The Democrats have just recaptured the White House, they have defended their majority in the House of Representatives, and they have at least a computational chance of taking power in this Chamber of Parliament by winning two Senate elections in Georgia in January. Despite all this good news, there are party circles that prefer to talk now about which course the Democrats should steer in the future. Should they be a moderate, moderate social democratic party or a decidedly left, more democratic socialist party?
This is an old dispute that has already dominated the party's primary campaign. There the middle candidates (including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and a few others) and the left candidates (Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders) faced each other. One of the biggest controversies at the time was what was the right way to get health insurance for all Americans.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already setting stakes in interviews
Biden prevailed as a candidate at the time, but the dispute was only put on hold for a few months. The party left saw that only a closed party could defeat the common enemy Donald Trump. Aside from a few ex-Sanders people who continued to tease Biden, practically all Democrats rallied behind Biden and Harris because of it. Bernie Sanders also urged his followers to help Biden to finally get rid of Trump.
But now, after Trump has been defeated, this dispute is breaking out again. The party left is now led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called AOC because of its initials. The young MP from New York has become the most prominent representative of the "progressive" wing of the Democrats in the past two years and was in a kind of constant clinch with the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez never thought much of Biden and always let the world know that. Biden's team reciprocated for this lack of loyalty by giving AOC only one and a half minutes to speak at the party's election conference in the summer. John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio who supports Biden, was allowed to speak much longer.
In interviews, Ocasio-Cortez is currently driving a lot of stakes in order to move the party to the left - to where it sees the political majorities of the future. She calls for state health insurance, a climate-friendly restructuring of the economy, and a decisive fight against racism in society. She considers the attempt to win back conservative white voters through moderate positions on these issues to be futile.
The way AOC sees it, Biden won because young left-wing party activists across the country brought new progressive voters to the polls. To risk that these activists and voters will now be alienated again by a moderate course is simply stupid, Ocasio-Cortez said New York TimesWhen the party sends the signal that it was the Conservative Center Democrats who won this election after Biden got 94 percent in Detroit after black organizers doubled and tripled the turnout in Georgia after so many people plowed in Philadelphia - I can't even find a word to say how dangerous that would be. "
Other Democrats see it very differently. The MP Abigail Spanberger, for example, who captured a former Republican constituency in Virginia two years ago and was now only barely able to defend it, was loud a few days ago at a conference call of the faction. The left wing's talk about "socialism" and the fact that the police had to be cut off from funds had hurt them enormously, she complained. "That almost cost me reelection." Spanberger, a former CIA agent, is one of the lucky ones - several other Democrats who were elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 for defeating Republicans lost their seats again on Tuesday.
Ocasio-Cortez reacted quite coolly to this criticism. She watched the losers' election campaigns, she said. They simply invested too little money in their Internet election campaigns. Anyone who spent only $ 2,000 instead of $ 20,000 in Facebook advertising in the last week before election day shouldn't be surprised if they were overwhelmed by negative Republican commercials and lost. There is something to it. It was mainly the Republicans who talked about the Democrats being "socialists" rather than the Democrats themselves.
Candidates from the middle had a hard time in this election
But there is also a fundamental, political difference between the parliamentarians Spanberger and Ocasio-Cortez. And this difference has direct consequences for the course that the party should steer in their opinion: Ocasio-Cortez represents a New York constituency that is firmly in democratic hands. She doesn't have to worry about a Republican opponent - he has practically no chance. Her most important election victory was when she beat the then-holder of her seat in the party primary in June 2018, a moderate Democrat. AOC can therefore take positions that are politically far left without great risk.
Spanberger, on the other hand, defeated a Republican MP in November 2018. Your constituency in Virginia is much more conservative than that of Ocasio-Cortez, with a majority won here in the center, not on the left. For Spanberger, there is no guarantee that voters in her district will not vote for a Republican again if she is seen as too left. That almost happened in 2020. And the further the party slips to the left, the more difficult it becomes for MPs like Spanberger to maintain their position in the middle and their mandate.
This basic conflict runs through the party and its program. And it will also influence the selection of staff. Biden has not yet announced any personal details, but speculation revolves around names that the party left does not like. The left wing is pushing to be prominently represented in the future Biden cabinet. The progressives are calling for the Treasury Department for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a harsh critic of Wall Street, and the Department of Labor for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who calls himself a "Democratic Socialist".
The middle wing would like to avoid that. To simply ignore Warren and Sanders would be a massive affront, however. It is therefore considered in these circles simply to say that no incumbent senators will be considered for ministerial posts. That is, of course, a fairly transparent maneuver.
And occasionally there are also contributions to the debate from the left that leave you perplexed. "We are thrilled that Donald Trump has been removed from office," read a tweet from this corner at the weekend. "We are NOT excited about a Biden Harris presidency, not as a socially progressive Latino organization, and certainly not as an organization that defends the right to free arms." The sender was the Latino Rifle Association.
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