The Nation: Opinion: William Greider: What Does the Democratic Party Actually Believe?
The Democratic Party today and throughout it's history perhaps even through the 19th Century has always been a party of parties or political and ideological factions. It is called the Democratic Party for a very good reason. Because Democrats believe in democracy whether they are big D Democrats meaning registered Democrats, or small d Democrats who aren't registered with the Democratic Party. That means Democrats who believe in democracy, but that doesn't mean we all share the same political ideology, because obviously we don't.
We are not called the Liberal Party, even though we obviously have a liberal faction that I'm proud to be a member of. We are not called the Progressive Party even though we have a progressive faction. We are not called the Centrist Party even though we have a small but centrist faction in the party. We are not called the Conservative Party obviously and we pretty much no longer have a conservative faction even though really up until the 1980s or so we did have one.
The Democratic Party is not a party with one governing political philosophy, but a party that is made up of people who share the same values and goals. Generally as it relates to the economy and to a certain extent as it relates to social issues. But we don't share the same policies in how to accomplish the goals we share. Which was obvious during President Obama's first term and still is obvious today. And the Democratic Party works when we are able to incorporate the best from all of our factions into policies and throws out the garbage from the fringe. To give voters a reason to vote for Democrats.
The Democratic Party has a liberal faction that I call New Democrats which I'm one. That believes in both personal and economic freedom and a high degree of both. That wants all Americans to have a good shot at being successful in life so they don't need all of those government interventions and programs to survive that the Bill Greider's of the world believe we should spend a lot more on. And New Democrats tend to very pro-choice as well and not just as it relates to abortion, but a whole range of personal issues.
We have a FDR New Deal Progressive faction as you see in Congress today as well with Senator's Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Tom Harkin in the Senate. and Representative's George Miller, Henry Waxman and others in the House. They tend to agree with Liberals on social issues, but as it relates to women's issues they tend to believe that not only should women have choice, but that others should have to pay for those choices as well.
Progressives tend to be a bit more paternalistic when it comes to social issues like alcohol, tobacco, gambling and even today with junk food, soft drinks and even marijuana. And want government to be much more involved in the economy when it comes to the safety net. But believe that people should have the opportunity to be successful on their own with a good education. And that the public safety net can be used to empower people at the bottom to move up.
Then we have the what I call Social Democrats (to be nice) in the Democratic Party what I call the Bernie Sanders faction that The Nation Magazine is part of. That believe "the New Deal and Great Society are out of date. And that the American form of government and even Constitution are out of date. That our federalist form of government with the three layers are out of date. That instead of having a country that is based so much on constitutional law and individual rights that we should move to a more collectivist social democratic form of government. Where more power is centralized with the central government for the benefit of the people's welfare. And we are run primarily if not exclusively on majoritarian rule. Instead of being run by the Constitution as is common in Europe".
So when someone says Democratic Party I almost say which one. Because if the party ever did break up you would see several fairly large parties replace it all having different names. And one says they are a Democrat I almost want to ask them what kind of Democrat are you? Because again we have four different factions all having enough power to at least get elected to Congress and having a major voice inside of the party.