Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Whither the Democratic Party?

We next meet on July 12 in the Howard Room at BHPL. For those who wish to continue to join the discussion via Zoom, you can still register (and receive a link) via the BHPL event calendar. For those who attend in person, no reservation is necessary.

Several weeks ago, we discussed where the Republican Party might be headed. At the next Beyond Labels meeting on July 12 (the BHPL will be closed on July 5), we’ll turn our attention to the Democrats.

In particular, we’ll discuss “What do the results of the New York City Democratic mayoral primary tell us about the near-term future of the Democratic Party…in New York? …across the U.S.?

For a variety of perspectives on the leading candidates and to whom they appeal, here’s a PDF of a NYT Op-Ed on the subject.



    Peggy Noonan is a respected Manhattan Republican.
    Wall Street Journal, July 7:
    The Culture War Is a Leftist OffensiveDemocrats have become more extreme on social issues, and they aren’t prepared for the backlash.

    Sorry to have a prior commitment AGAIN. Won’t go on forever… p


    link is in the apology line. apologies.

  • Here are some links to recent articles about the New York City Democratic mayoral primary; but first, a few comments about the outcome:

    1. Adams won by about 8,400 votes out of about 937,000 votes cast (less than 1%) over the next closest candidate, Katherine Garcia, another centrist (by New York City standards) candidate; it’s hard to make very much out of victory that narrow.
    2. Turnout was about 26% of eligible primary voters, another reason not to make much of Adams’s win.
    3. As I understand it, progressive candidates did very well in the primary for the New York City Council; yet another reason to discount Eric Adams’s win as an avowed centrist as a bellwether for New York, much less for anyplace else.
    4. Some commentators have made much of Eric Adams running on a platform opposing “defunding” the police. However, I think all the other candidates in the mayoral primary (at least the ones who didi relatively well) also opposed that stance.
    5. Maybe the demographics of the results say more than the raw vote totals: how relatively wealthy, well-educated voters voted (in general, for the candidate perceived as more progressive) compared to how more middle- and working-class voters voted (for Adams).
    6. Maybe the results tell us more about ranked-choice voting than anything else.
    7. Although it’s not relevant to the Democratic mayoral primary, Curtis Sliwa (!), the founder of the Guardian Angels, won big the Republican nomination for mayor. If you lived in New York when the Guardian Angels were on the streets and the subways, you’d understand how bizarre this is. He was even endorsed by Rudy Giuliai (but not, apparently, by Michael Bloomberg).

    Here are the links:

  • maha
    maha, The Mahablog
    May 27, 2021

    Let’s not Make 2020’s Mistakes in 2022
    May 27, 2021
    Do read Can Democrats avoid the pitfalls of 2020? A new analysis offers striking answers by Greg Sargent. You’ll remember that Democrats didn’t do as well in House races as they had expected to do last year. And now it wouldn’t take much for the Republicans to take back a House majority next year.

    Greg Sargent discusses an analysis of campaign advertising that points out how much Democrats emphasized “working across the aisles” to “get things done” while Republicans emphasized “Democrats are demons who want to abolish police departments, turn America socialist, and eat your babies.” Guess which approach worked?

    Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, the vice president of Way to Win, said that, in sum, Democrats in 2020 sent mixed messages: They touted their willingness to work with Republicans, even as Republicans called them socialists and extremists.

    “By far their biggest spend,” Ancona told me, speaking of Republicans, was “on vilifying us as extreme in all kinds of ways.”

    Meanwhile, Acona said, by constantly touting bipartisanship, Democrats were “effectively normalizing their attacks,” because Democratic messaging essentially said: “We want to work across the aisle with people who are painting us as extreme villains.”

    That’s exactly what happened in Missouri. Republican campaign ads were all negative, all the time, and worked hard to hang unrest in Portland, Kenosha, etc. around the necks of Democratic opponents. Videos of flaming cars were frequently featured, as was the word “socialism.” The Dems tried to emphasize how good they were at working with Republicans. That’s exactly what happened. And it workd, for the Republicans.

    This isn’t necessarily a new problem. I think Claire McCaskill lost to Josh Hawley in 2018 in part because she was too careful to not come across as “too liberal.” Her big issue was a promise to reduce prescription drug costs. Any issue more hot-button than that was avoided. I don’t recall that she ran any negative ads against Hawley. Meanwhile, Hawley’s ads against McCaskill accused her of all kinds of misuse of funds and personal corruption, and I don’t remember that she answered them.

    Yes, Missouri is a red state, but the cities are blue. A big turnout in the cities can overcome the rural votes. But McCaskill cautious campaign didn’t inspire anyone in St. Louis or Kansas City to go out of the way to vote for her. A more full throated defense of urban issues, and a promise to stand up to Trump, might have kept her in the Senate.

    Back to the anlysis of 2020:

    This analysis also complicates an oft-heard argument about Republicans using leftist elements in the party — such as the “defund the police” movement — to tar mainstream Democrats. It’s sometimes said Democrats should more publicly denounce those [leftist] elements.

    But the analysis suggests that at least part of the problem — in 2020, anyway — was that Democrats failed to rebut those attacks head-on or to effectively make the case that the GOP is genuinely captured by its extremist elements in a way the Democratic Party simply is not. That’s a very different failing than not doing enough to call out leftists.

    Making the case that “the GOP is genuinely captured by its extremist elements in a way the Democratic Party simply is not” is a bit trickier than just calling the other side names, but I think that might be a smarter tactic than just running away from “the left” (as McCaskill did in 2018).

    I hate negative ads, and I part of me hates to advocate negative ads, but we’re in an unusual situation here in that one party has ceased to be a party and has become a danger to democracy itself. The Dems need to pull out all the stops and hand the right’s radicalism around GOP necks next year.
    Things I’ve been thinking as well. I thought this person is very cogent.

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