Is A Democratic Party Civil War Any More Inevitable Than It Always Is?

If you read Jonathan Martin's and Alexander Burns' NY Times piece about the simmering Democratic Party civil war in Congress, you saw how the Republican wing of the Democratic Party is, once again, accepting Republican framing to define the Democratic Party. Corrupt and useless South Texas Blue Dog, Vicente Gonzalez is the very definition of what a member of Congress should never be. Though he represents a D+7 district, he's been such a lousy member that he barely cracked 50%, beating Republican Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez by a flaccid 115,073 (50.5%) to 108,503 (47.6%). Gonzalez, who literally aspires to be a lobbyist, raised $910,448 and spent $493,485 (leaving about a million and a half dollars sitting in his account).

In 2016, Hillary won his district by nearly 17 points. Gonzalez, who has zero political skills, was whining on a Democratic conference call that "Defund police, open borders, socialism-- it’s killing us... I had to fight to explain all that. The 'average white person,' may associate socialism with Nordic countries, but to Asian and Hispanic migrants it recalls despotic 'left-wing regimes." You want to imagine him explaining that to voters? How about socialized health care? You think he understands what it is in a way that he could persuade anyone that Medicare is a good thing?

Orange County ex-Republican-pretending-to-be-a-Democrat Harley Rouda was defeated in his re-election because he was, like Gonzalez, a worthless careerist with no understanding of Democratic values, who had no reason to be in Congress. This reactionary New Dem is demanding more conservative messaging for the Democratic Party if it wants to win in districts like his. Maybe he should go back to his old party if he wants conservative messaging. He looked at Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012 and wrote a check for Mitt Romney. Of course he wants more conservative messaging!

A few days before the election we worked up a quick comparison between Katie Porter and Rouda:

I want to compare two freshmen from Orange County, California-- Katie Porter and Harley Rouda. In 2018, Katie's district (CA-45) handed her a 158,906 (52.1%) to 146,383 (47.9%) win over incumbent Mimi Walters. Meanwhile Rouda beat the notorious Russian spy Dana Rohrabacher 157,837 (53.6) to 136,899 (46.4%). Rouda won bigger. But he joined the New Dems and has established himself as a do-nothing waste of a seat who is firmly ensconced as a pointless member the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. He's done exactly nothing and there is no reason to reelect him except that his Republican challenger is worse. Katie, on the other hand is so beloved that the Republicans figured out she is unbeatable. She has distinguished herself in Congress as a total asset and she is untouchable.
This year Katie raised $15 million to her opponent's $1,265,078. The DCCC quickly saw she needed no outside help and contributed $840 in independent money in her race, in other words, nothing. Rouda, on the other hand, who does nothing but beg for money day in and day out, has only been able to raise $5,426,654, slightly less than his opponent. Because he's been such a total waste and with nothing to offer to anyone (except his donors), the DCCC and Pelosi's SuperPAC had to rush to save his worthless hide by spending nearly $10 million on his race. He'll win-- and probably lose in 2022-- but is it really worth $10 million to keep him? Why not just recruit talented and dedicated leaders like Katie Porter instead of Republican-retreads like Harley Rouda?

I was wrong about him winning this cycle; Orange County voters didn't want to wait 'til 2022 to dump him. Now he says he's planning to run again in 2022 and claims it was "centrist voters,"who abandoned him, particularly Vietnamese-American voters, many of whom he claims "recoil from messaging about socialism... This narrative that the Democratic Party is borderline socialist, we need to fight back harder on that because it’s simply not true. We needed to be more forceful in defending the moderate position of the Democratic Party as a whole."

By "moderate," reactionaries like Rouda and Gonzalez mean "conservative." Both are a stain on the Democratic brand and both confuse Democrats and the working class about what it means to be a Democrat. The party is now structurally incapable of making a choice.

Over the weekend, Julie Hollar, writing for, noted that Mass media lost no time in helping the right wing of the Democratic Party blame its left wing for poor election results. She reported that "In a write-up about the call, the Washington Post‘s Rachael Bade and Erica Werner (11/5/20) quoted and paraphrased 14 sources blaming those who “endorse far-left positions” for Democrats’ losses, counterbalanced by only four sources defending the left. All of the progressive sources were named; half of the establishment sources were either quoted anonymously or presented as unspecified “moderates”-- or, twice, simply as 'Democrats,' committing the exasperatingly common journalistic sleight-of-hand that erases progressive Democrats as legitimate members of their party. In addition to quoting a handful of participants on the call, Bade and Werner interviewed numerous 'moderates' for the article ('Several moderate Democrats said in interviews…'), but only managed to interview two progressives: Alexandra Rojas, head of the leftist PAC Justice Democrats, along with Rep. Jared Huffman, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus [but more an old fashioned establishment liberal than a progressive]-- who took the side of the centrists."

As the New York Times‘ Jim Tankersley (10/14/20) reported just last month in an unusually frank assessment of the popularity of left-wing ideas, the right’s wall-to-wall attempts to bring down Democrats with the “socialist” label haven’t been very effective, despite Cillizza’s suggestion to the contrary. That’s in part because Biden and other centrists deny them so forcefully, but in part because “many of the plans favored by the most liberal wing of Democratic leaders remain popular with wide groups of voters, polling shows.” Tankersley pointed to a recent Times poll that found 2 in 3 respondents support a wealth tax, 3 in 5 favor Medicare for All (including 2 of 3 independent voters), and even higher numbers support free college tuition.
The Green New Deal is likewise broadly popular: One poll specifically of swing House districts (YouGov/Data for Progress, 9/19) found that respondents supported the idea by a 13-point margin, 49% to 36%-- even when informed that it will cost trillions of dollars.
And with some races still not called, it’s safe to say that Medicare for All and the Green New Deal didn’t sink the Dems. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out (Twitter, 11/7/20) that every Democratic co-sponsor of Medicare for All in a swing district won re-election. And Gizmodo‘s Brian Kahn (11/9/20) found that of 93 Democratic incumbents who co-sponsored the Green New Deal-- including five in swing districts-- only one lost their race [inept Florida New Dem Debbie Mucarsel-Powell-Powell].
...Clearly the 2020 election contains many lessons for the 2022 midterms, but it’s unlikely the right conclusions will be drawn from the fact-free centrist narrative presented by corporate media.