Democrats facing a potentially difficult 2016 with movement progressives

donkeyThe data breach was by most standards a relatively minor happening that would have simply had a reaction limited to political insiders, data nerds and political press – had the DNC not bungled it so badly from a public relations standpoint. The DNC’s action inflamed non-political people who are backing Bernie Sanders and tend to see political parties as cartels that do not believe in the normal processes of Democracy.

Whether or not this is fair, a large segment of voters the party depends on feels the deck is stacked against the candidates they favor like Senator Sanders who articulate the views they live by. These are what I call “movement progressives.” They are motivated by issues particularly economic ones and are not comfortable with the Wall Street ties of the Obama Administration and the Clinton campaign.

Those connected closely to politics support Secretary Clinton, like they did her husband because of the political benefit – Democratic administration and the potential for patronage jobs or consulting contracts.

While having actual skin in the game is something Democratic operatives have pointed to in the past as to why they should be deferred to about decisions related to party nominations (those who work in politics and study numbers know better than the heathens who have given us bad nominees time and again is an implication made)  as to why progressives need to stay home and support Democrats.

Political types like to use fear to motivate the Democratic base. Paraphrasing here but basically they say “If you don’t support this Democrat, you’ll get a much worse Republican who is a racist that will destroy reproductive rights, push religion, hand everyone guns and ban minorities from advancing in our society before deporting anyone with a foreign sounding name.”  These fear tactics have long worked as movement progressives felt they needed to play defense and support the lesser of two evils. Closing ranks eventually happens as a worse alternative looms, and the Democratic establishment knows that. However now many progressives are reaching a wits end, meaning the trick may not work this year for the party.


Democrats are currently at the party’s lowest point using Congressional representation and State legislators as a metric in terms of an overall percentage, since before the Great Depression. A feeling has permeated movement progressives, particularly those not actively involved in politics/political campaigns but more into causes (who watch MSNBC, read the Daily Kos and of course now support Bernie Sanders) that they have been asked to walk the plank one too many times backing establishment candidates who then lost general elections.

The breaking point came in 2014 when the party determined that protecting marginal Senators in red states meant no immigration reform and precious little else in progressive ideas pushed by the Democrats prior to the midterms. The result? All of the Senators who the Democrats sought to protect by pushing moderation were beaten badly.

Now the DNC’s attitude towards the Sanders campaign, be it with limiting debates or the handling of this data breach have sent movement progressives into a tizzy. A feeling that the deck is always stacked against progressives within the Democratic Party has taken root and this might become difficult to debunk in some minds during the current cycle.

Further complicating things is the unwillingness on the surface for Democrats to embrace the #blacklivesmatter movement, a sign to many that the party is still ultra-cautious when it comes to aggressive cause-based movements.

I am hearing more assured views from progressives I talk then in previous cycles that they’ll vote third party or not vote for President at all if Clinton is nominated. Many have come to the conclusion that after the Obama years which have branded as” socialist ” by conservatives who appeal to low-information voters, but to movement progressives have represented a continuation of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s policies toward Wall Street, that backing another Democrat with ties to big business is just not worth it.

No doubt the party, and well-paid political operatives (backed by those who seek to be well-paid operatives or to attain some “status” in the party) will spread fear that if you don’t support the Democratic nominee, your putting a sexist, racist, corporate shill into office. But that sort of fear factor has run its course with many progressives, and the Democrats will need to do some work to mend fences with those who are truly cause-driven in 2016.



  1. Is the Democratic party self-serving and insensitive to the average voter? no doubt. This is the same complaint voiced by the tea party and other far right conservatives – that politicians care far more about being reelected than they doubt about fixing any problem. The voter file problem is but one example of that (the fact that the data you collect belongs to the DNC). What will it take to change politics as usual? voting and media


  2. Strategically, because of the insurgent environment on both sides, there’s a convincing argument that a Clinton nomination would result in a beating in the General. In this scenario we’d lose the presidency, but would be set up to gain in the 2018 midterms, going into reapportionment. The converse of that scenario should also be taken seriously.


    1. David Lutrin · ·

      That scenario would lead to 2 – 4 years of GOP anarchy and a country we would find difficult to recognize.


  3. David Jones · ·

    As a lifelong Democrat, I find it appalling that the DNC and the FDP could not find it within themselves to facilitate an even playing field during this election cycle. The chosen line-up of speakers at Leadership Blue and the FDP convention, the limited debate schedule, and both the FDP Chair and Vice Chair signing on as official members of Hillary Clinton’s Florida Campaign Team has sent a loud and clear message that those candidates who subscribe to the traditional progressive policies that provided social mobility during our nations hey day, are no longer worthy of having their voices heard through official channels of the Democratic party. In doing so, the party leadership has slammed the door in the face of countless young idealists and very well may have mortgaged the future of our party in favor of a less than honorable process designed to advance a watered down political agenda that helps far fewer people than is needed at this juncture in our history.


    1. we all saw how the last FDP election was ‘managed’. Why would national elections be any different?


  4. WPB Progressive · ·

    I was not sure who I was going to vote for in the Gubernatorial election, I was so fed up with the FDP. As soon as I looked at the ballot I knew I was voting for the Democrat. I am really fed up with the DNC at this stage. Looking for some change. If Bernie is our Nominee all will be well. We will win the general and hope for our future will be restored.

    If Bernie is not our Nominee, I will feel manipulated, tricked and disillusioned. The DNC really needs to start playing fair, if it wants a united Party in 2016.


  5. Naoya6161 · ·

    See, it’s these types of arguments that make it difficult for me to sympathize with some progressives. As I recall, Sanders ran as a Democrat instead of as an Independent specifically because he didn’t want to split the vote and let the GOP win. He understands the consequences of letting the GOP win, unlike some of his supporters.


  6. Wendy Sejour · ·

    Nail on the head. After this last debacle I am one of those movement progressives.


  7. Gil Wildridge · ·

    I find this to be a bit of a stretch. Most progressives know the horrible consequences of a Republican administration put into office. Whether or not there are operatives trying to scare them into it, I know they know that a Republican administration would be a disaster for this country. If there really are progressives who don’t believe this, I’d like to meet them and possibly hold an intervention for them. No doubt there are plenty who feel they’re being lectured to by the Democratic party on a daily basis and are being kept in line by the fear of said Republican administration, but if anything that’s more a problem of living in a country with a two-party system then a party within the actual party. If anything, I find the problem to be the opposite: establishment Democrats don’t seem to understand how dangerous the current mentality in the Republican party is. They don’t take the threat seriously enough or they’d not only be listening to their base, they’d be doing everything possible to fully mobilize the progressive left and give them the tools they need to organize for victory wherever and whenever possible. Establishment Democrats think this is phase the Republican party is going to get through eventually, even though what little evidence there is on this point suggests the opposite. Indeed, climate change, overpopulation, obsolete property and water management laws, etc. are going to exacerbate public anger, and that’s only going to increase extremism in American politics. Political parties are having a hard time in this country less because they’re actively trying to oppose their grassroots bases and more because the pace of change in this century is such that they just don’t understand what those grassroots bases are trying to tell them. Take a second and think about how old the average nationally elected Democrat is. Try as they might, few if any of them are ever going to be able to comprehend what’s going on in 2015, they simply don’t have the background knowledge. They are judging contemporary events with a 20th century perspective. If we want to change that it’s more productive recruit progressives as candidates and board members then it is simply opposing party leadership for the sake of it. While I don’t think that arbitrary opposition is explicitly the intent of this article, the conclusion it reaches suggests that the Democratic party is both perfectly capable of understanding the state of the country in 2015 and organized enough to actively resist grassroots progressive organizing because there’s so much power at the top of the Democratic party, it’s worth suppressing a rebellion to maintain. I just don’t see that conclusion as reflective of reality. Maybe my opinion of the party is in fact so low that I find them not capable of organizing around any common goal, including suppressing a progressive base.


  8. The Observer · ·

    First off, Debbie W needs to go. Secondly even if you do not like Grayson personally he is the one true Democrat in the Senate race. Murphy is just another self serving Republican lite. He could not win in their party so he found some desperate Democrats to back him and now we are stuck with him. Another bad decision by the national party who think they know what is best for us.


    1. Joe Kreps · ·

      Shades of Nan Rich vs. Charlie Crist. The FDP really F***ed that one up.


  9. […] and barely 72 hours old, the verdict is in. The DNC chair, Hillary, etc. must hang. They have been lying to and instilling fear in “movement progressives” (are there non-movement progressives?) for too long and must […]


  10. Mark Lynn · ·

    I’d like to remind everybody that Bernie Sanders isn’t even a member of the Democratic Party. Never has been! In fact, he once renounced the Democratic nomination in Vermont when it was bestowed on him. Frankly, I don’t see why he is even allowed to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination. You should be a member of the party whose nomination you seek. Thus, the DNC shouldn’t even be sharing data with non-Democrats. I also find the threats from “progressives” amusing as the liberal wing of the party has been pushing out the moderate, centrist & Blue Dog Democratic voters for decades.


    1. Bruce Borkosky · ·

      That is such a good point!!! If I can paraphrase, ‘labels matter’ not policies. You can do anything you want, as long as you have the ‘right’ label next to your name.


%d bloggers like this: