Brace yourself; there is a civil war coming soon in the Democratic Party.
At the heart of today’s Democratic Party is an identity crisis and an ideological struggle. In recent election cycles, these were pushed underground for the sake of party unity.
We heard the first rumblings of it during the 2016 election when Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a serious run for her money.
And now those differences threaten to come out in the open during the upcoming primary debates at an importunate moment when the party needs to unite to defeat President Trump.
But now is as good a time as any to solve the identity crisis in the party.
How to help the Democrats solve their problems
For starters, is the Democratic Party a party of the rich or a party of the little guy? For many years, they’ve been the party of the rich playing a good game of pretending to be for the little guy.
And the Democratic establishment does it in insidious ways that are too clever by half: They are for the marginalized guy or gal in the race, gender, and sexuality issues because, hey, that doesn’t hurt their and their affluent constituents’ pocketbook much.
But in the economic issues that matter, they often sock it to the average Democratic working-class voter: in the global trade deals that’ve offshored jobs and have decimated the American manufacturing base; in their looking the other way as illegal immigrants depress the wages of working-class Americans, and more.
But as long as they talk and talk and talk some more — about abortion and transgender rights and racism (not that these aren’t relevant issues), they can have their cake and eat it too.
But all this worked until 2016, but can’t be pulled off anymore. The Democratic establishment wing is still either clueless or stubborn, but they want good ol’ Joe Biden to come to the rescue and Make Oligarchic America Great Again.
But the restive Sanders, Warren, and Ocasio Cortez wing of the party won’t let them.
With Clinton, they chose elitism over empathy
But it isn’t just the Democratic Party establishment that’s the problem, it is the party’s voters that’ve changed. It has been for some time the party of the rich, and the party of college-educated, upwardly mobile, urban voters. There are, of course, minority voters and struggling legal immigrants in the mix, but working-class and lower middle-class voters who used to vote Democrat are right to feel alien in today’s Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton revealed her economic elitism when she said in 2018 that she won in the “places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”
And this was the Democratic nominee! Where was the empathy and compassion for those who’ve been left behind in today’s global economy by forces outside their control like uncontrolled mass immigration, offshoring of jobs, automation? There was none, because she was out-of-touch and clueless.
And the dishonesty continues with the Democratic establishment wing. If Hillary had won in 2016, the party would’ve drifted further away from its working-class roots. But the defeat in 2016 has forced party establishment leaders like Joe Biden to now go through the performative motions of pretend-caring especially about white working-class voters.
Enter Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Say what you will about them, but they are admirably trying to do some vital housecleaning in their party.
This progressive wing may seem crazy and socialist, and I don’t agree with them on some things, but at least their hearts are in the right place, and they are closer to the historic, progressive roots of the Democratic Party.
I left the Democratic Party in 2016 because I couldn’t stomach the dishonesty and duplicity. When you rip of their mask, what is revealed is troubling: the Party of Davos masquerading as the Party of Scranton, Pennsylvania, that essentially hoodwinks much of the electorate.
Yes, the establishment Republicans are no better, but this is a discussion about the Democratic Party.
It is OK, by the way, to be a party of and for the affluent, but at least don’t simultaneously pretend to be the party of the little guy.
I, for one, am looking forward to the coming civil war and some resolution.
Saritha Prabhu is a columnist with the Tennessean, where this column originally appeared.
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: A civil war is coming for the Democratic Party — and it won't be pretty