Why it matters that the Activists and the Establishment can’t get along

Within the Democratic Party two factions seemed to have formed in the aftermath of the democratic primaries: The Establishment side, which sided with Hillary Clinton and won the primaries, though not without contention, and the new progressive Activist side, henceforth referred to by the latter (mostly because the term progressive annoys me. What does it even mean?) which sided with Bernie Sanders and remains firmly entrenched with the new, firmly liberal and activated base. Now with Trump in the White House and most of the US controlled by the Republican party, the two sides need to come together and take back some (but not all) of the country, not only because Trump could very well be a disaster of a President, but also to ensure the survival of a liberal democracy.

So, what’s the holdup? Neither side trusts the other.

The Establishment is concerned with the ‘purity’ of the activist side, and concerned that with the rise of the Resistance that they might end up doing to the Left what the tea Party did to the right, force radicals into the picture who are just as motivated to harm their own side as the opposition in the name of an ideological agenda. As such there is a distinct level of concern and mistrust coming from the Establishment towards the activists, even as they realise they need them to not only to stay relevant but to move forward on plans that they do agree with.

Conversely the Activists are still convinced that the Establishment has no respect for them, discounts their grievances especially in regards to their candidates failed primary (they remain convinced there was sabotage regarding their candidate, that the DNC deliberately chose to oppose Sanders throughout the primary. They aren’t wrong, but nor is that the whole story) and the firm belief that if the establishment doesn’t realign itself with the base, and move forward to progressive policies and standards, they will remain a losing party clinging to outdated policies and tactics, the Third Way and the like.

The reality is that both sides need each other, that the Establishment needs its reenergized base to retake parts of the country and push forward legislation to combat Trump and protect their constituents is undeniable, and for that they need the Activists. On the other hand, the Activists need to realise that for all that the DNC and the party had their role to play in their candidate losing the primary, they still need their access, their workers and aides, and their money and connections to win the elections coming up.

This is reality, and this is politics, the compromise necessary for the Democrats to win statewide elections will be unpleasant for both sides. It’s also a basic fact of politics, that to succeed you must swallow your pride and work with the other side. If both sides can’t get their act together it won’t matter how many Resistance members are opposing the Republicans, or how active each side is in fighting in the election, the sides simply do not have the manpower or the money necessary to win on their own.

They have to work together.


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