A fight more pressing than Democratic squabbling
And, yes, the party is more progressive on certain questions than it used to be. It is rightly more committed, for example, to LGBTQ rights -- but so is the country as a whole. There has been a strong response from Democrats of all races to police shootings of young, unarmed black men. But this is less a move to the "left" than an expression of simple decency. A lot of this left/center business is about abstractions imposed on reality rather than a reflection of it.
The combatants in the intra-party arguments might usefully start by acknowledging the merits of some of the insights their opponents offer. Jared Leopold, the communications director of the Democratic Governors Association, said that Northam's approach resonated with Virginia voters who "were looking for a calm and strong leader in the midst of chaos in Washington." Moderates have a point when they say that voters nationally are similarly seeking steady and reliable leadership.
But progressives, in turn, are right to argue for clear, compelling and comprehensible policies to deal with the economic inequalities that are hurting many in the ranks of Clinton and Trump voters alike. Bold, not bland, is the way to go.
For now, the imperative is to check Trump's abuses and to stop the truly radical agenda that Republicans are advancing, including their continuing efforts to wreck Obamacare and an unpopular, budget-busting corporate tax cut that redistributes large sums of money to society's wealthiest.
The grass-roots activists know how important these battles are. The ideological infighters should learn from them.
E.J. Dionne's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @EJDionne.
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