Conservative Democrats Drive out Progressives


Analysis by Reporting San Diego

Oct 23, 2017 (San Diego) Media reports have emerged that Senator Bernie Sanders allies are out of the Democratic Central Committee (DNC). According to NBC News, among the people pushed out are:

  • Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Buckley lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee.
  • James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders backer, is no longer co-chair of the Resolutions Committee and is off the Executive Committee, a spot he has held since 2001.
  • Alice Germond, the party’s longtime former secretary and a vocal Ellison backer, who was removed from her at-large appointment to the DNC.
  • Barbra Casbar Siperstein, who supported Ellison and Buckley, was tossed from the Executive Committee.


Some of these people have served in the party like forever. However, they supported Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota bid for the chairmanship. Ellison is a progressive, and not just a Senator Bernie Sanders ally, but got the senator’s endorsement.

Usually, the inner goings of either the Democratic or Republican Parties are of little concern for the political media. Not this time. The election of Tom Perez as DNC Chairman was followed closely. It came after the November defeat of Hillary Clinton. Perez is part of the center-right wing of the party and in the Clinton orbit. This wing took over the Democratic Party in the 1990s.

The Democratic Party is divided between establishment Democrats, mostly upwardly mobile, university trained, white-collar professionals. The other side is progressive Democrats. They tend to be younger millennials. Many are the children of the center-right coalition, who have been saddled with, at times, hundreds of thousands of dollars in college debt. They are also the children of immigrants and more ethnically diverse. They care deeply about income inequality and climate change.

Chiefly, they did not grow up in the Cold War. Therefore they are less sensitive to red-baiting. This is a favorite of conservative Democrats and Republicans alike.



here is a sub-rosa war within the Democratic Party. It is about control and future policies. The progressives are friendly to 20th-century liberalism and the New Deal. The conservatives are neoliberal in outlook and prefer lower taxes and market-friendly policies, that in many ways are not that different than those of establishment Republicans. They are funded by the same core group of business people.

The Democratic Party is in the midst of a generational realignment. The party base is also angry with the elites whose policies created a situation where they were left behind. This led to the adoption of left-wing populism, that looked very close to the New Deal.

Progressives are far more liberal in the classic 20th-century sense and want policies that will help them. These range from single-payer healthcare, to “free college,” to a deeper safety net. They are committed to both economic and social justice.

The conservative wing of the party started to emerge after the 1968 Convention. They drove those who wanted to reform the party out of leadership positions and paid full lip service to 20th-century liberalism while rejecting it.

The Third Way meant to reform the Democratic party away from that liberalism after Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980. This started a generational shift too far more conservative policies. It also started the demonization of “big government,” and taxes. We as a country still refuse to pay for the services we desire.

A critical point of inflection was the New Orleans Declaration of 1990. In the preamble, we read the ideological move away from that past.

ere as elsewhere, the old isms have run their course, and old politics must give way to new realities. The political ideas and passions of the 1930s and 1960s cannot guide us in the 1990s. Together we pledge to overcome the forces of inertia and orthodoxy in both parties that keep America from moving forward.

This meant a sharp turn towards corporations and the market, and away from social justice and economic justice. This led to policies meant to privatize schools, such as so-called school choice, and mass incarceration.

This is Clintonism. At its core it is summarized in this section of the New Orleans Declaration:

We believe the promise of America is equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.

We believe the Democratic Party’s fundamental mission is to expand opportunity, not government.

The Neoliberal worldview is in line with the 19th-century view of the economy. It carried Bill Clinton to the White House, for two terms. In many ways, Barack Obama came from that side of the party. Why Obama’s lofty language of 2008 was not matched by either fiscal or economic policy.

The 2016 election was the capstone to a few electoral disasters. In 2008 Democrats controlled state houses, the House, the Senate and the White House. By 2016 they had lost over 1000 state legislative seats. They lost both the House and the Senate and lost the White House to a right-wing populist. Why? The conservative wing refused to listen to any in their left flank. Worst, they had the gall to tell their progressive base they were not needed (and later blamed them for staying home, or voting third party).

It was a disaster. Yet, conservative Democrats insist on doing the same things that have been very damaging to them in elections, and the American people.

With the purge of the party carried out by conservatives like Perez, we need to ask? Are Democrats conceding the 2018 contest? It is far easier to scream from the sidelines than to actually govern. That said, the process of political realignment continues. We may see the rise of a third party or Progressives will take over the Democratic Party. The question is how long will it take?

Suffice it to say, nobody gives power willingly.


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6 replies

  1. And that is why we need a 3rd party. Here in San Diego the Dem. Party establishment couldn’t wait to endorse Repub. turned Dem. Nathan Fletcher for Bd. of Supervisors. Instead of listening to progressives and changing their ways the Dems are trying to drive progressives out of leadership positions & continue with Neoliberal business as usual. Well they better figure it out because we’re not going to stand for it. If they keep it up we’ll just leave.

    • In reality parties do realign and we are in the midst of that. How long it will take for a new generation to take over it a good question. But in the midst of the transition it is quite painful. Those in charge do not want to give power up, and those who are on the ascendancy are desperate. Will we see a third party? It is possible.

  2. Russian troll trying to divide the left and sow discord. Well done. I’m a progressive and annoyed at the oversimplification and misinformation in this opinion piece.

    • I am glad you think I am a Russian troll. Or that you think this is simple. 🙂

    • Oh and one more thing, I have learned that when people call somebody a Russian troll that they know is not a Russian Troll, they usually are tied to the Democratic Party establishment that is doing its very level best to keep actual reform off the agenda. So are you tied to that establishment? Wonders will never cease, and please do point out to what part of the essay is simple, or for that matter factually wrong, Use sources, please, I suspect you came via a certain site that is all but democratic if you get my drift.


  1. The 2016 Democratic Primaries Were Rigged – Reporting San Diego

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