History, it seems, has come full circle.
A little more than two years after Donald Trump rocked the Republican establishment and shocked the world with the electoral upset of the century, a motley crew of Democrats is jockeying to unseat Number 45.
And just as Trump was forced to fight an organized resistance from within Republican ranks, the 2020 Democratic nominee will likewise encounter a measure of mutiny.
The Never Trump movement shattered party unity and forced an exodus of Republican elites, reshaping the GOP into an entirely new animal. And the Democrats’ factionalism, divided among establishment holdouts, disenchanted Bernie bros, and a new breed of brash, unapologetic radical who preach extreme socialism and environmentalism, will almost certainly fracture the party’s foundations as the primaries heat up.
But the differences that divided the 2016 Republicans were minuscule compared to those facing the 2020 Democratic field. Trump’s perceived arrogance and uncouth debating style were one thing; party infighting over issues such as universal healthcare and late-term abortion will prove quite another.
The lines have been drawn, and the radical wing is already well represented; Elizabeth Warren was first to declare and far-left California Senator Kamala Harris recently followed suit. Their socialist brother-in-arms and original establishment instigator Bernie Sanders is also reportedly gearing up for yet another go.
At this point only the alleged intentions of former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor (and one-time Republican) Michael Bloomberg, and Mrs. Democrat Establishment herself Hillary Clinton are standing in the way of an all-far-left Democratic field.
If none run, then the Democratic Party will be something entirely new and unrecognizable. If any run, however, the Never Trump debacle will look like a schoolyard scuffle compared to the Armageddon that will ensue among the blue ties.
In fact, the first seal may have been broken as both camps are already trading barbs a year before the first states hold their primaries.
Bloomberg has compared Warren’s “millionaire tax,” which targets wealth rather than income, to Venezuela, and labeled Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal as “pie in the sky.” It doesn’t take a psychic to foresee what nearly two years of constant “he said, she said” analysis will do to further drive the wedge between the party’s traditional center and the up-and-coming outsiders.
Despite the best efforts of the Never Trump movement, The Donald still fared very well among Republican voters, retaining more than 90 percent of Republican voters. Hillary fared even better among Democrats, but captured only 80 percent of Sanders’ supporters in the general election.
But whatever remained of kumbaya party unity disappeared with the midterms, and with it the Democratic Party’s old power structure.
Just as Trump has taken control of the GOP, the likes of Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Tlaib have seized the limelight, and by extension the reins of power, on the other side of the aisle. Pelosi and Schumer may be in charge, but the Democratic Party has staked its success on millennials and Generation Z, and to these demographics the ideas supported by the Democratic establishment are nearly as repugnant as the current occupier of the White House.
Any victorious establishment candidate can rest assured the radicals will not go peacefully into that good night. From Rashida Tlaib’s “We’re gonna impeach the mother*****,” which drew widespread condemnation from party elders, to Ocasio-Cortez’s defiance of Pelosi, to Ilhan Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic outbursts, the Democrats’ freshman class has made clear it’s not in the business of building bridges.
And the same goes for their followers. The new school have cultivated powerful social media personas, much like the President, complete with Twitter mobs eager to attack their opponents. There’s safety in numbers, and the far left’s ranks are swelling.
Perhaps most alarming for the more traditional members of the party, however, is the speed at which the newbies are winning over the left’s most influential voices. Long-time director and Democratic activist Michael Moore recently declared on MSNBC: “First of all, if you’re moderate, stop being moderate. Take a position. There’s no middle ground anymore…. This is no time for moderation.”
Such rhetoric leaves little room for the likes of Biden, Bloomberg, and Clinton. Of course, when push comes to shove the reality of unseating Trump may well change the dynamic. But for now this is a Democratic Party ruled by radicals, and the chances of one inheriting the throne should terrify the remaining establishment holdouts; for the party they built for decades will be wholly unrecognizable.
The inevitable embrace of socialism as official policy, and the very liberal social causes that seem to accompany it, are points of no return for the world’s oldest active political party.
Whatever happens, the Democratic primary is primed for pyrotechnics. And when the smoke clears the nominee will preside over a very different party from the one they chose to represent.