The Parties Split

The Parties Split


Leonard Zwelling

Lost in the contest for president were the two contests for the heart and soul of the traditional American political parties.

Much has been made of the warring factions in the Democratic Party because the left has such a prominent set of faces—Bernie, AOC and the Squad. It is my guess that this extreme left wing of the Democratic Party will get more ink from the Republican press than credibility from the Democratic Party. If it wasn’t obvious in 2016 it sure is now. Bernie and the leftie crowd have little traction with the rank-and-file Democrats. We are not going to have Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, or reparations for slavery any time soon in America. So while the Democrats are happy to have the votes of the liberal left, for the most part (and this is substantiated in Biden’s appointments thus far), the middle of the road Democrats have a pretty firm hold on the reins of the party apparatus. The Democrats may be diverse, but they’re not suicidal. I am not sure that every Biden pick will make it through the Senate, but most will as they have been chosen accordingly and the Dems took the two Senate seats in Georgia bringing that chamber to a 50-50 split with new Vice President Harris able to break ties. Traditional Democrats are doing just fine.

The same may not be true in the GOP as the article from January 1’s New York Times by Catie Edmundson makes clear. Led by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and a host of GOP members of the House, the extreme Trump flank of the Republican Party simply cannot admit to the fact that Trump lost the election. On January 6, they mounted a challenge to the election results which necessitated every member of Congress having to vote on the legitimacy of the Electoral College result. There was little doubt how this would turn out, but listen to Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a real comer in the GOP:

This is a “dangerous ploy” by his fellow Congressmen and women and they are “playing with fire.” The fire that they are playing with is trying to undermine the wishes of the American people as to who won the election when this has been litigated and rehashed many, many times since November 3. Republicans, get over yourselves. You had a great night, just not at the top of the ticket because you had the inferior candidate.

The GOP bears no small responsibility for the riot on Capitol Hill, too. If Trump and his minions had conceded defeat, the crowd would never have amassed.

The danger in both parties is that the competitive forces from extremism on the right (Republicans) and left (Democrats) will marginalize each party with the vast majority of the American people, the ones who voted Joe Biden into office.

We have had intraparty wars since the birth of the nation (the Federalists of Washington, Hamilton and Adams vs. Democratic-Republicans of Jefferson and Madison) and these latest skirmishes are really nothing new, BUT, when one faction in one party wants to deny the legitimacy of the very process on which the country was founded, free and fair elections, that party may have jumped the shark.

This will translate into the race for the White House in 2024 and the mid-term elections and their attendant primaries in 2022. It is likely that the extreme factions in both parties will make headway in the primary season of 2022 making the average voter even more alienated than he or she already is. If flame-throwing Trumpites gain access to more power or acolytes of The Squad make gains in the Democratic world, those of us in the middle may have fewer choices and the race for the presidency in 2024 could be a race to the extremes.

Just say for me, the GOP would do well to heed the advice of its thinking members like Ben Sasse and pay attention to reality and stop living in dreamland. And when it comes to La La Land (California), the Dems there have to get real as well.

It was Barry Goldwater who said, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Maybe. But extremism in the defense of lunacy will undermine the democracy and that can come from either side. It is time for the cooler heads to prevail—Biden, McConnell, and Sasse. Let the loonies blow off some steam if they must, then can we get back to business? The last four years has given me a headache and 2020 was awful. Let’s get back to fighting about deficits, taxes and roads.

The election is over. Let’s end it. But after January 6 and the subsequent impeachment, the prosecutions have just begun.

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