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“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Will Rogers

Political differences have always been an intrinsic part of politics. However, as a pragmatic progressive, I don’t like much of the dissension I see on both the left and the right of the Democratic Party. Lack of Democrat cohesiveness was a factor in the November election, especially in hard to win states like North Carolina. 

The Democrats needed to turn over four seats to win the Senate. Five, if we correctly assumed that ultra-conservative Alabama would not vote Democrat Doug Jones, a fine man and Senator, back into office. 

There were a large number of Senatorial contests up for grabs. But interestingly back in April (4-20-20) when the epidemic was relatively young, only three were rated as “toss-up” by the highly respected political analysts at Five-Thirty-Eight. Colorado and Arizona which ultimately went for the Democratic challenger… and North Carolina which did not. At the time, another handful that were leaning Republican ultimately stayed that way, despite inaccurate later polls showing them flipping. 

Nationwide, there’s a tremendous amount of dissent from alienated Democrats on both the left and right, tearing the Party apart. For example, if I posted something positive on social media about Medicare for All, Democrat moderates went wild. When I posted something about the Democrats needing to censor Rep. Omar for anti-Semitic comments, the left had a heart attack (note- the failure to specifically refute Omar is likely one reason why the normally Democratic Jewish vote was more positive for Trump than it would have been otherwise in places like Florida). That internal dissension was just not good for candidates like Cal Cunningham in North Carolina. 

Back in October 2013, I wrote “Dialogue” pieces for the NYT regarding American political alienation. I referred to root causes like the questionable wars in Vietnam and the Middle East, as well as the clear failure of both Congress and Obama to fully correct the underlying issues behind the Great Recession and punish the Wall Street executives and firms responsible. 

A deluge of negative events has occurred since 2013, for example the Russians interfering in the 2016 Presidential election. Plus, vastly increased Executive and Legislative branch lying, overreach and incompetence under Trump and McConnell.  

In those two pieces, I cited a Gallup poll that showed only a 42% survey approval rate for government on domestic affairs and a 49% rate on international affairs. At the time, I believed these figures to be extremely low and very concerning… but they’re better than what we have in the Trump era. 

For example, look at a Gallup survey (9-3-19) that was completed pre-pandemic. It showed an even lower approval rate on domestic affairs, 39% (including just 25% for Democrats and 36% for independents). And little movement on the foreign end with 50% approval (including 32% for Democrats and 48% for independents).  

Further, we now have the pandemic. That’s why I believe the alienation problem is even worse today than a year ago. 

The current internal alienation situation should not be surprising on the Democratic side. Progressives are still upset that the DNC rigged the 2016 nomination process and then Bernie lost the nomination again in 2020. Plus, moderates are angry that Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes, but we still ended up with Trump, arguably the most divisive President in modern times. And now we have a vaccine being readied for distribution by a President no Democrats trust. 

Since 2013, we have had much more “tribalism” in general. This fact can be readily identified in the media. Fox and the right-wing newsletters have moved further right, supporting Trump regardless of the facts, even when they are indisputable as with the Presidential election. Defying facts and logic, surveys indicate that for alternate media influenced GOP voters, the impeachment process was looked upon as merely a partisan witch hunt and the election results were “rigged”. 

And CNN, MSNBC and others have moved leftward, obsessed with covering Trump’s faux pas and failures as a President and person rather than focusing on long range strategic issues vital to our nation, like climate change. Only the PBS Newshour seems to be covering the middle ground rather than doing advocacy. 

As for myself, I’m increasingly concerned with the tribalism enveloping our nation in general, as well as within the two wings of the Democratic Party. If the Democrats expect to flip the Senate and dump Perdue and Loeffler, the party will have to quickly come together before the January 5thvote in Georgia. Democrats must show a united front and a clear policy agenda both to get their supporters enthusiastic enough to vote. Although I strongly disagree with their policies, the GOP has the enthusiasm factor on its side.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.