There are really two Democratic parties.
One is the old corrupt party of thieves and crooks. Its politicians, black and white, are the products of political machines. They believe in absolutely nothing. They can go from being Dixiecrats to crying racism, from running on family values to pushing gay marriage and the War on Women.
Cunning, but not bright, they are able campaigners. Reformers underestimate them at their own peril because they are determined to win at all costs.
The other Democratic Party is progressive. Its members are radical leftists working within the system. They are natural technocrats and their agendas are full of big projects. They function as community organizers, radicalizing and transforming neighborhoods, cities, states and even the country.
They want to win, but it’s a subset of their bigger agenda. Their goal is to transform the country. If they can do that by winning elections, they’ll win them. But if they can’t, they’ll still follow their agenda.
Sometimes the two Democratic parties blend together really well. Bill Clinton combined the good ol’ boy corruption and radical leftist politics of both parties into one package. The secret to his success was that he understood that most Democrats, voters or politicians, didn’t care about his politics, they wanted more practical things. He made sure that his leftist radicalism played second fiddle to their corruption.
Bill Clinton convinced old Dems that he was their man first. Obama stopped pretending to be anything but a hard core progressive.
The 2014 election was a collision course between the two Democratic parties. The aides and staffers spilling dirt into the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico reveal that the crackup had been coming for some time now. Now the two Democratic parties are coming apart.
Reid is blaming Obama. The White House is blaming Reid. This isn’t just a showdown between two arrogant men. It’s a battle between two ideas of what the Democratic Party should be.
Senate Dems chose to back away from Obama to appeal to Middle America. Obama wanted to double down on his 2012 strategy of energizing the base at the expense of moderate voters. Reid and his gang are complaining that Obama didn’t back away far enough from them. Instead he reminded voters in the final stretch that the senators were there to pass his agenda. Obama’s people are dismissing them as cowards for not taking him to battleground states and running on positions even further to the left.
Reid’s people think that Obama deliberately tied them to him and that’s probably true. It’s not just about Obama’s ego. His campaigns and his time in office were meant to showcase the progressive position that the only way to win was from the left. Obama and his people would rather radicalize the Democratic Party and lose, than moderate their positions and stand a chance of winning.
The left isn’t interested in being a political flirtation. It nukes any attempt at centrism to send the message that its allies will not be allowed any other alternative except to live or die by its agenda.
Obama deliberately sabotaged Reid’s campaign plans, as Reid’s chief of staff discussed, because that strategy involved disavowing Obama and his legacy.