Democrats for some reason want to cling to the 1990s
"Rewarding your enemies and attacking your friends is never a good political strategy. It leaves you very alone in the world," writes Jeff Weaver. (The War on the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party The Nation 05/16/2022)
This would seem like good advice on its face. But it doesn't look that way to the Democratic Party establishment:
[A]t a time when the right to an abortion is about to be eviscerated by the Supreme Court, House Democratic leaders are frantically fundraising, arguing that they will protect reproductive rights. Simultaneously, they are rushing to defend anti-choice, corporate-friendly Representative Henry Cuellar against progressive Jessica Cisneros.
The White House political shop (which is now not-so-jokingly called the Committee for Assisted Democratic Suicide in some circles) has not only botched the politics around Biden’s legislative agenda but is now taking a sledgehammer to Biden’s electoral coalition. This year, they’ve had the president make endorsements in just two House primaries. The first was for Representative Kurt Schrader. Schrader not only worked to gut Biden’s Build, Back, Better [sic] bill, but also voted against the initial House version of the Covid relief bill. (Not to mention that his reelection is opposed by local Democratic organizations that represent 90 percent of the Democratic voters in the district.)
The other was in Ohio 11 for Shontel Brown, who is one of a handful of House members who publicly oppose Biden’s efforts to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal, the signature foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama administration that was shredded by Trump. [my emphasis]
It was the progressives in Congress that fought hardest and were Biden's most loyal supporters on the Build Back Better agenda, the voting rights bills, and the codification of Roe v. Wade - allo things that Biden and his team claimed to support.
As Weaver explains, this perverse political priority of opposing the supporters of the Party's nominal priorities and supporting against them opponents of the Party's nominal priorities is largely a function of the capture of the national party organization by big donors. A process that has been in place for a long time.
But with a Republican Party that has gone full Trumpista, the dysfunctional effect on the Democratic Party is now more destructive than ever.
Aside from the fact that the Democratic establishment is just worse at national messaging than the Republicans are, this approach is the stale old Clintonite "hippie punching" of trashing progressives, aka, the party's most loyal constituencies, and trying to kiss up to Republicans who are now routinely calling Democrats "pedophiles" and "groomers."
It was bad enough in the 1990s. But now the approach is taking the party off the rails. In a midterm election year, when Democratic turnout is always a particular challenge. When the Republicans, with a lot of help from their highly partisan allies on the Supreme Court and Trumpista judges are putting up barriers to voting and honest election tallying not seen since before the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
Yet another reminder of The One True Thing David Frum Ever Said: "while Republican politicians fear their base, Democratic pols hate theirs"; (Gibbs on the Left FrumForum 08/10/2010)
The threat here on the side of the Democratic base is not so much that Democratic activists will jump ship and go third party, though that could happen to a limited extent on the local level. The danger is that if enough base voters who are not activists get discouraged at seeing the Democrats never getting much their own major programs passed and who are facing increasing voter-suppression measures just don't vote.
As Weaver writes in conclusion, "Every time a voter drops out of the electoral process or decides that corporate liberalism is all that is achievable the corporatists get one step closer to the defeat of a freer, fairer, more just America. Despair is their ally. Defiance is ours."