By Tony PerkinsIf you thought the Democrats’ party bosses were already too liberal, buckle up. After a 2016 platform that would have pushed Barack Obama to the Left, headquarters is gearing up for an election cycle of all-out radicalism.
Originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update on February 26, 2018
Tony Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council (FRC)
While most Democratic voters across the country are begging the party to rein in its over-the-top extremism, the DNC is stubbornly plowing ahead with a strategy that just might sink liberals’ comeback hopes. In California, where backing a five-term senator ought to be a no-brainer, the state party just delivered one of the biggest stunners of the campaign season: Democrats won’t endorse longtime Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Feinstein, who just announced her bid for a sixth term, is well ahead of opponent Kevin de Leon in the polls—but that doesn’t seem to matter to state party leaders, who insist she’s “too moderate.”
Over the past two and a half decades in the U.S. Senate, Feinstein is known for a lot of things. But her conservative sympathies aren’t one of them. An extremist’s dream, she’s pushed for religious tests for public office, blocked qualified judges, trampled the Second Amendment, supported partial-birth abortion, and taken a hammer to federal marriage laws. If Dianne Feinstein is a centrist, I’d hate to see what a leftist looks like! Still, California Democrats think it’s time to take an even harder Left turn.
“Ms. Feinstein,” the New York Times claims, “is viewed in Washington as someone who is genteel and serious, and not overly partisan.” Genteel? Is that what they call defending the process that tears apart full-term babies seconds away from birth? And I suppose telling a judge she isn’t qualified because she’s a Christian isn’t overly partisan either? Senator Feinstein is about as centrist as Hillary Clinton. No one has shown more rigid allegiance to anti-faith, pro-abortion, anti-family orthodoxy than the oldest member of the U.S. Senate. And unfortunately for the 84-year-old, even that isn’t saving her.
Instead, it seems that Feinstein has become a victim of the same identity politics she and other liberals have been advocating. After the last several years of creating “protected classes,” the other side has projected an image that a lot of Democrats no longer fit. An aging white Senate female is no longer viewed the same way as a young, niche, minority candidate like Leon.
Despite a smattering of special election wins, the heartland is crying out for some DNC soul-searching. The party is “relying on ‘too much identity politics’ where ‘winners and losers are picked by their labels.'” The Democrats in most Midwest states “feel abandoned.” In Illinois, where Politico talked to one conservative Democrat after another, the refrain was the same: the party is “out of touch with mainstream America.” And considering what it’s doing to people like Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) that isn’t about to change any time soon.
Normal politics (Joshua Mitchell explains in National Review) presumes that we can rise far enough above our small-group attributes—our race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion—and that we can arrive at a political arrangement that works well enough for us to live together as part of a larger polity until the next election.
(Identity politics, on the other hand) rejects the model of traditional give-and-take politics, presupposing instead that the most important thing about us is that we are white, black, male, female, straight, gay, and so on. Within the identity-politics world, we do not need to give reasons—identity is its own reason and justification. Because identity politics supposes that we are our identities, it does not consist in the speech, argument, and persuasion of normal politics but instead, in the calculation of resource redistribution based on identity… Thoughtful Democrats see that identity politics is a dead end, but fear to speak up.
Lipinski, one of the few pro-life, Blue Dog Democrats in Congress, is in the same boat as Feinstein—for completely different reasons. More socially conservative than his peers, Lipinski’s values have played out well in a district that thinks like he does. Now, faced with a challenger from the far Left, Democrats are leaving one of their more successful incumbents twisting in the wind. That’s a sad irony, Politico’s Heather Caygle is brave enough to say. Because Dan is exactly the kind of candidate Democrats need more of to win back the House.
After years of feeling ignored and sometimes shunned by the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]—Blue Dogs have said the campaign arm is historically biased toward progressive candidates, even if they aren’t the best fit for a district. This election cycle (Caygle wrote) was supposed to bring a better working relationship between the two groups.
So much for that. Democrats would sooner die on their ideological sword than hear the message voters have been trying to send: Americans don’t agree with the radical direction of the party driven by identity politics that divide rather than unify.