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Wed Mar 20, 2019, 01:21 PM


I've Seen Civil War Destroy the Democrats Before. We Can't Let it Happen Again - Stuart Eizenstat [View all]

Stuart E. Eizenstat was chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter and has served in Democratic administrations from Johnson to Clinton and Obama.


I’ve lived through a Democratic Civil War before. In fact, I’ve been in the middle of two of them. The first was in 1968, when I was the research director for Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. The second was in 1980, when I was Jimmy Carter’s policy director. Both times, I watched pressure from the party’s liberal wing tear the party apart and bring down a Democratic presidential candidate. Both times, the Republicans took the White House. Both times, liberal dreams were shattered. Today, I fear it could all be happening again.


The left’s new avant-garde has properly identified the need to confront serious national challenges, from rising income inequality and inadequate health care coverage to climate change. But successfully dealing with these problems demands pragmatic solutions that can gain support from a majority of Americans and do not play into Trump’s false narrative that Democrats are socialists. Speaking from experience, by demanding the moon, their proposals will crash on the launching pad and lead to nowhere good.


It is a misreading of last November’s midterm elections to believe the House was flipped to Democratic control by the election of a few arch-liberals, most of whom displaced centrist Democrats. The greatest gains were made by moderate Democrats capturing Republican districts. A successful Democratic presidential candidate might take a leaf from Carter’s playbook, even more successfully accomplished by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, to appeal to both sides of the party’s coalition to attract and hold moderate Americans tired of partisanship—Americans who want the highest ethical standards in the White House, who will respect and strengthen the institutions that represent our values—from the FBI to the press to our public schools. A successful candidate will eschew identity politics and want to unite Americans rather than divide the country into warring tribes, will strengthen, not weaken, our worldwide network of alliances, and will recognize there is a big country with its own problems that must be addressed between the two coasts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a liberal pragmatist and a political master at herding cats, has readied programs that can lay the foundation for a presidential candidate who can articulate a clear and acceptable message on health care, economic equality and a positive role for government that has wide appeal in the country, while simultaneously capturing the energy of the newcomers of the liberal left—if the liberal left will only listen. The Democrats must iron out their differences and present a united front against Trump, who will have the advantages of incumbency, a positive economy and the support of a united Republican Party. If these progressives keep their eye on winning in 2020, they can be part of a broad coalition to shape their politics into laws which tackle the problems they have identified—which is why they took up arms and won their way to Washington in the first place. Otherwise, we could witness another divided Democratic Party leading to another Republican victory. And the progressive left will have accomplished nothing.

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Amy Klobuchar

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Reply I've Seen Civil War Destroy the Democrats Before. We Can't Let it Happen Again - Stuart Eizenstat [View all]
question everything Mar 2019 OP
Freddie Mar 2019 #1
question everything Mar 2019 #2
elleng Mar 2019 #3
Hortensis Mar 2019 #4