July 26, 2017

Can the Democratic Party Survive the Rift?

SW Rift of Kilauea Volcano HawaiiMuch has been made of the rift in the Democratic Party, the one between the establishment wing represented by Hillary Clinton and the progressive wing represented by Bernie Sanders. With regard to the party's strategy for the future, the rift is being presented by many in the news media as involving the difficult decision of either trying to appeal to the predominately White working class voters the Democrats lost to Donald Trump or doubling-down on identity politics and attempting to better cater to almost everyone else.

I admit that this strikes me as something of a false dichotomy. For decades, the Democratic Party managed to be both the party of the working class and the the party of various minority groups. Just because this is no longer the case does not necessarily mean that they could not pursue both portions of the electorate in future campaigns. The challenge in doing so, though, is a difficult balancing act that requires them not to go too far in either direction. And I fear that the party has indeed gone too far in the identity politics direction, alienating many White working class voters from middle-America in the process.

I'm also curious about what part, if any, atheists play in the future of the Democratic Party. I have been far more likely to support Democratic (or Green) candidates than those of any other party. There are many reasons for this, but one does include my perception that these candidates tend to be at least somewhat better when it comes to secularism. At the same time, it drives me crazy to see these candidates continuing to pander to religious voters while occasionally disparaging atheists. I've also noticed that we seem to be conveniently omitted from the groups these candidates are so desperate to been seen with or be supported by.

I could imagine a scenario where the Democrats go too far in their efforts to cater to predominately White working class voters in middle-America, most of whom are bound to be religious. If they went too pro-religion, I'd certainly find that a turn-off. I suspect I would not be alone. On the other hand, I already find their embrace of destructive identity politics, political correctness, and social justice warriorism off-putting. Were they to amplify these efforts, I'd have a hard time continuing to support them at all.

I suspect that many secular voters would like to see the Democratic Party move away from religion and become more accepting of secular voters. If the Democratic Party were to embrace atheists, that would win them some secular support but would almost certainly push more rural working class voters away. If they were to embrace religion and begin to push it the way many Republicans do, this might win them rural working class support but would alienate secular voters. I fear that this is not going to be an easy balancing act.
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