From the Left



The big tent of Democrats is only too big to small minds

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Can a political party be too inclusive? Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apparently thinks so.

In a lengthy New York magazine profile this week, the New York congresswoman responded with a groan when asked what role she might play as a member of Congress if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected president.

"Oh God," she said of the man who has been leading the pack of her party's hopefuls in national polls. "In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are."

That may sound sarcastic, but it also happens to be true. That's not a bad thing. It also happens to be a very good reason for us Americans to have a two-party system.

But that's not good enough for AOC and some others on the party's left-progressive wing.

She mocked the "big tent" strategy by which candidates in both parties have tried to grow and diversify their voter appeal. "Democrats can be too big of a tent," she said.


She even went so far as to suggest that the Congressional Progressive Caucus expel members who stray from the progressives' party line. Other Democratic caucuses in Congress require applications, she said. But her wing will "let anybody who the cat dragged in call themselves a progressive," she complained. "There's no standard."

"Anybody who the cat dragged in?" Ah, the impatience of youth.

I think former President Barack Obama had the right idea when he warned fellow Democrats against ideological "purity tests." Ocasio-Cortez apparently thinks purity tests are a fine idea.

For years I have encouraged Republicans to broaden their reach and compete again for voters of color and other constituencies that used to feel more welcome in the party of Abraham Lincoln. Instead, we have seen the Grand Old Party's activists escalate their demonization of "RINOs" -- Republicans in Name Only -- in their ranks. Now I am disappointed to hear similar ideological purity promoted on the left.


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