Three Futures for the Democratic Party: The Party Beyond Hillary and Bernie

The electoral defeat of the Democratic Party last November, coupled with a lackluster resistance to Trump and the Republican agenda, has exposed a political party long in decay. Having lost nearly one thousand seats in local and national elections over the past eight years, and then the presidency, the Democratic Party now finds itself in its weakest position in the House since 1928, and the states since 1925. This has not only led to a decline in party influence and agenda-setting power, but, very concretely, in an all-out assault on American democratic institutions in the form of Republican gerrymandering, draconian voter ID laws, the weakening of unions, a curtailing of reproductive rights, continued attacks on women’s health, and the rollback of environmental protections.

The realization of this situation has energized millions politically, from filling the streets of Washington at the Women’s March to airport protests against the travel ban. While many within the Democratic Party have tried to direct this energy towards the next electoral horizon, a progressive wing led by Bernie Sanders is pushing a broader agenda that challenges the establishment. This has become a struggle to determine the direction of the Democratic Party.

Three futures are now possible: a neoliberal-centrist future, a social-democratic future, and a producerist future.

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