Yes, the Democratic Party Has Changed, No It Isn’t Like the Republican Party’s Change


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A lot was made about how Jim Webb seemed out of step with the Democratic base during his debate performance, and he was the hero of the 2006 cycle, nine years ago. Some have made the point that the Democratic Party has moved politically, as the Republican Party has, in the last decade. It is true that both parties have moved. It is not true that there is much similar about that.

The one similarity both parties have is that they have changed to be more responsive to the people who vote for them now. That’s the end of the similarities. One party has simply begun to be responsive to their base, while the other has devolved into a dysfunctional mess. One has a policy agenda attached to their movement, the other does not. One has actually moved to their political pole, the other has simply made good on their rhetoric.

The Obama-era Democratic Party really hasn’t moved to the left the way many believe. Yes, it has changed, but it has changed mostly in that it now acts on it’s beliefs. Democrats talked about supporting LGBT rights for a long time now, but have become more effective in making substantial change under this President. Democrats have talked about supporting the environment and moving away from pollution-causing fossil fuels for a long time, but they have been more effective in causing that change under this President. Democrats have long stood for women’s rights, but have been more effective in changing government policy to help women under this President.

Democrats had to make good on their long-time promises because that is what the coalition that elected President Obama demanded. They’ve had to explicitly support policies that move along progress for key constituencies. It’s simply an extension of stated party beliefs. It’s the party making good on long standing promises.

What is happening on the right is not the same. They are not moving the policy bar on most issues. They are not talking about being more effective for their voters (it is arguable, but one could say they are for their donors). The movement on the right is movement toward an ineffective party that doesn’t even want to get things done. It’s essentially a movement towards an anti-government dystopia. Comparing this level of dysfunction to the movement on the left is an apples to oranges comparison.

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