Adam Serwer of The Atlantic recently wrote a great article on how “The Capitol Rioters Won” the power struggle within the Republican Party by playing on the beliefs of GOP voters and office holders that no Democratic victory is ever legitimate.
They are blocking a January 6 commission because they agree with the underlying ideological claim of the rioters, which is that Democratic electoral victories should not be recognized. Because they regard such victories as inherently illegitimate—the result of fraud, manipulation, or the votes of people who are not truly American—they believe that the law should be changed to ensure that elections more accurately reflect the will of Real Americans, who by definition vote Republican.
But what about the Democrats? What are the Democrats? Serwer focuses on issues raised by the multicultural diversity of the Democratic coalition.
The same racial and religious polarization that is fueling the Republican turn against democracy has turned the Democratic Party into an institution that is potentially incapable of confronting the problem. The relative homogeneity of the GOP has left Republicans short of a national majority and reliant on minoritarian institutions to wield power. But conversely, because the Democrats remain a racially and ideologically diverse coalition, they lack their rivals’ unity of action.
But are the Democrats as ideologically diverse as they are racially and culturally diverse? It’s difficult to say. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are blocking filibuster reform, but there’s precious little information about everyday Democrats. The media has maintained a blockade on information about Democrats. There’s no “man or woman in the street” interviews, no visits to Philadelphia hoagie places or New York bodegas, no interviews with Hispanic voters in Spanish, no off the cuff interviews during Pride parades, nothing on Jewish Democrats, and no trips to interview Red State Democrats. In-depth polling on Democrats seems non-existent and I’m aware of no psychological studies of Democratic voters except in relation to Republicans.
However, there is some indication that Democratic voters are a united group despite cultural and racial diversity. In a June 1 Economist/YouGov Poll, Democratic opinion varied little on items concerning Joe Biden and his administration. On Biden’s approval and personal qualities, Democrats approval for Biden ranged from 77 to 87 with disapproval ranging from 4 on “Likability” to 12 on “Honesty.” The same was true about issues in which Biden had very strong Democratic approval on Jobs and Economy (84-11), Climate Change and Environment (78-10), and Health Care (80-11). The only exception was Biden receiving only 64% Democratic approval on Abortion. But the significance of his lower approval on abortion was lessened by 24% having “no opinion.” Democratic opposition to Biden was still only 13% which was barely higher than his disapproval on other items.
The ideological divides within the Democratic Party are between Joe Lieberman/Joe Manchin-type moderates, a Civil Rights/Center-Left stretching from Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren, and hard left progressive Sanders supporters. But it may be the case that moderates and the Sanders left were both substantially weakened by Biden’s victory over Trump in 2020.