Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s off-message criticism of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s background at Bain Capital gave the campaign an untimely, unwanted headache this week. But more significantly, it exposed a tension that’s developing between the Democratic Party’s centrist wing and its more-outspoken liberal base—one that threatens to fester more openly if President Obama fails to win a second term.
These things take time, too. The GOP is still in the process of getting over “compassionate conservatism.” First came the shock — to the GOP leadership that is — of the drubbing the party received in the 2006 midterms. In 2008, the Democrats managed a repeat, in large part because the GOP hadn’t yet had the chance to purge itself.
Well, 2010 Tea Party election helped that process along quite a bit, and left the Democrats just as shocked as the GOP establishment had been four years earlier. But the Republicans have a ways to go. Should Romney win in November, it will hinge on how he governs. If he’s another Bush 43 (or, hell, Bush 41), then the GOP Civil Wars will continue. If he leans more to the right, the fighting can stop for a while.
If he loses — then things get really nasty. Can you say “Whigs?” I knew you could.
The Democrats watch all this, loving every minute of it. But their worst days are yet to come. The national party is beholden to its Progressive wing, which has very little appeal outside of super-liberal enclaves. But the moderate wing of the national party more or less ceased to exist after 2010. Up-and-comers like Cory Booker should be the Democrats’ centrist salvation, but look at how quickly he got jerked back into line by the Progressive White House.
An Obama win this fall will only strengthen the Progressive more, while doing serious damage to the Democrats’ chances moving forward. An Obama loss? It might just make the GOP infighting look tame.
I can hardly wait.
But remember: Both parties are uneasy coalitions of disparate factions. It’s like that line from The Godfather. “That’s all right. These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one.”
And, yeah, it’s been ten years since the Democrats had their last Come to Jesus moment, when the Republicans actually picked up seats in the historic 2002 midterms. Their time might have come again.