The Emerging Democratic Debate

The Emerging Democratic Debate

Different voices among Democrats.

July 9, 2014 – Over at the Washington Post, the usually sensible Greg Sargent endorses the notion that divisions among Democrats are “mostly trumped up.” The tension between the Wall Street wing of the party and the Warren (as in Elizabeth) wing is an overblown fiction of a press corps desperate for some action.

SSAIt’s true that the prior divisions on social issues have dissipated, as liberals have swept the field. Obama’s halting attempts to wean the U.S. from its foreign wars have garnered widespread support. And on economics, Sargent argues that Democrats “largely agree on the menu of policy responses to the economic problems faced by poor, working and middle class Americans – a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K, higher taxes on the wealthy to fund a stronger safety net, job creation and job training – whatever the broader rhetorical umbrella is being used.” Even Hillary says she agrees with Thomas Piketty that extreme inequality is a “threat” to our democracy.

There are differences on how aggressively to go after the big banks or whether to expand Social Security, Sargent admits, and a debate underway about “whether to push the Democratic Party in a more populist direction,” which he declines to define. But generally, he argues, there’s broad agreement that Hillary or any Democratic candidate will run on.

All of this is true except the conclusion. There is a broad agreement on what might be called a “populist lite” agenda – one that has been put forth repeatedly by Obama and frustrated by Republican obstruction. And the reforms – from the minimum wage to universal pre-K – are important and will make a difference.
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