“We should argue with one another … It should not devolve into something where it could tear the party apart.”
Failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s defeat last November finally brought attention to what has happened slowly since 2010: Democrats are not only slipping at the national level but also the state level.
At first, people focused anger on President Donald Trump and Republicans, but that has changed in Democrat-friendly California. The tipping point this month happened when the state assembly decided to shelve a universal health care bill. Activists stormed the capitol and even sent death threats to legislators.
As Politico points out, California prides itself on being “the focal point of the anti-Trump resistance,” but the moderate Democrats have seen the political pattern and think the out-of-control spending Democrats “could go too far, jeopardizing the party’s across-the-board dominance of state politics.”
Democrats In Office
“We’re on the same team,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, chairman of the Assembly’s progressive caucus. “We should not be fighting one another. We should argue with one another … It should not devolve into something where it could tear the party apart.”
California established itself as a fortress of the opposition immediately after Trump’s election, with Democrats advancing high-profile legislation to defy the new president on climate change and immigration.
The Public Policy Institute of California ran a poll that found that “more than 40 percent” of the “rank-and-file Democrats” consider themselves “moderate or conservative.” From Politico:
“I think so much of the emphasis has been on, ‘We’re a blue state, we’re a deep blue state and so forth,” said Mark Baldassare, director of the poll. “The reality is that the Democratic Party doesn’t speak with one voice … The moderates hold a lot of sway.”
Democrats across the country look at California as a “beacon of hope for progressives.”
Top ranked Democrats have urged caution to those who just want to spend spend spend, including state treasurer John Chiang. He reminded the party they need to approach the issues “correctly” or “others are going to lose hope.” Governor Jerry Brown even warned his side that just because Trump has “gone too far in one direction on issues,” it’s entirely “possible to go too far in the other direction.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon fired back at his decision to shelve the health care bill that landed on his desk, explaining that it did have any “funding mechanism and lingering questions about delivery of care.” He also acknowledged the moderate Democrats:
“We’re still a big tent party, and we have folks within our Democratic caucus from throughout the state, really, who are Democrats, but who are moderate Democrats,” Rendon said. “And for us, it’s about making sure that we’re going to be able to create the architecture for plans that are actually going to get the support of our caucus.”
Fighting Within the CA Democrat Party Headquarters
But these concerns of infighting extends to the entire Democrat Party, not just the ones already in office. The Los Angeles Times editorial board scripted a scathing article to Eric Bauman, the California Democrat Party chairman, over the internal fighting.
The board worries that the internal fighting within the party will have a profound affect on the 2018 mid-terms at the state and national level.
After all, they have to resist Trump:
That’s not meant to sound vapid or inspirational, but to be frank advice about how to proceed in the face of a deep — and getting deeper — rift in the party over allegations of fraud in the party’s internal elections last month. It’s tearing the party in two at a time when unity is more important than ever.
What makes this such bad timing is that California and the nation need the state Democratic Party in shape to offer a strong challenge to the Trump administration over the next few years, and especially in the mid-term congressional elections in 2018. The state Democratic Party can’t focus on ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Devin Nunes and other Republican members of Congress — or on offering credible alternatives who will challenge the Trump administration here and in Washington — if it is expending its political energy squabbling internally.
But just like Chiang said about doing things correctly, the editorial board wants elections done correctly as well since California influences other progressives.
The board suggests that the party leaders “submit the election results to an outside auditor for an independent review.” It seems that Bauman’s election as chairman had many controversies with it, which can cause people to doubt election results within the state:
Why should anyone other than a few thousand party operatives care about what seems to be inside baseball? Because the state’s ruling party has tremendous influence in who wins elective office in the state. Democratic leaders set the political agenda for rank and file elected officials and punish those who are not loyal to the party. It’s important that the people with so much power to affect state and local democracy don’t reach that position through chicanery but because they actually represent the people who elected them.
Bauman and his leadership team would be wise to reassure their party’s members that they are operating fairly. Instead, they are pressuring Ellis to back down and fall into line. This might have worked in the past, but it’s less likely to work now. In fact, it may be sowing more bitterness among those on the losing side who are convinced that only someone with something to hide would resist an outside election review.
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