Socialist U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is back in the news again, with a claim that the Democrats have too big a tent. In a profile in New York Magazine, Ocasio-Cortez groaned about policy differences between the Democratic Party’s ascendant socialist wing and its original neo-liberal wing: “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”
This isn’t the first time she has dissed people in her own party and the Soviet-lite factionalism within. Asked about the Biden wing’s supposedly “middle ground” approach to climate change instead of her hairbrained Green New Deal, she said, “I will be d-mned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to find a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives. That is too much for me.”
Even earlier, she proclaimed that the United States is a fundamentally backward country, and that moderation cannot fight “fascism.” For what it’s worth, AOC, as she’s known in common parlance, seemed baffled about the fuss over her comments, saying in any other country, she’d be in a separate Labor party, like the one led by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
If this were even three months back, I would have laughed it off. But there is a hint of truth in what she said. There are structural changes afoot across the entire Anglosphere, and one of the significant changes is in the increasing rift within the left, between the liberal and the socialist wings.
While there are differences in the electoral systems of the United Kingdom and United States, this phenomenon was evident in the damaging rift between the left anti-Brexit coalition with a significant section of liberal, Remain-backing members of Parliament quitting the Labour Party to join the Liberal Democrats, allowing Labour to be completely remodeled as a socialist hub. A similar struggle for power is being played out in the United States.
Consider this recent study and the fascinating chart colleagues brought to my attention. The study claims half of the Democrats are moderates, and within that a whole 6 percent call themselves conservative. Forty-four are moderates otherwise, with 11 percent socialist. Now, that is an interesting statistic.
A whole 6 percent of conservatives among Democrats seems plausible. There is still a constituency for what one might call a Jim Webb or a John F. Kennedy Democrat. For what purpose are they still in the Democratic Party is known only to the Almighty, but it is understandable.
The question gets muddier regarding the liberals and the socialists, because in that sphere it is not just a matter of economic differences, but also social differences. A liberal Democrat might be comparatively free-trade in economics, but decidedly left in social issues, like LGBT policies, abortion, and law and order.
This recent profile of Lingua Franca CEO Rachelle Hruska MacPherson making apparel dubbed Resistance Radical Chic, is the most perfect example of this class of people. These types flock to Golden Globes-style profanity-laced tirades about the “climate crisis” and abortion after a few glasses of Chateauneuf Du-Pape.
The fact that they are opposed to the more dirt-on-face socialism of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t make them an ally of conservatives, or a “moderate” by any measurable index. Moderate is a relative term, as the question that naturally comes is “Moderate compared to whom?”
Uncle Joe Stalin was a communist-nationalist, compared to Leon Trotsky, who was an internationalist, or Antonio Gramsci, who was far stealthier about capturing the institutions from within. Logically, from a certain angle that makes Stalin a moderate compared to Trotsky, and makes Gramsci a moderate compared to Stalin. That doesn’t however, make Stalin or Gramsci any less radical or dangerous.
The worst policy mistake for conservatives would be to align with these so-called “moderates,” instead of preaching undiluted conservatism to the disaffected 6 percent within the Democratic Party. Prime Minister Boris Johnson managed to do that in Britain, neutering both the Nigel Farage-led UKIP, as well as capturing the heartland leftist Brexit voters from the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party.
The second important factor is that a considerable number of African-American voters are far more religious than an overwhelming number of white liberals, who are far more left-lurching, just as the majority of Asian and Indian American voters are socially conservative about work ethic, benefit misuse, strict law and order, and LGBT policies.
A genuine future Anglo-American conservatism would try to win these massive electoral groups, instead of counting them to be a Democrat constituency, where they don’t actually fit on the issues. The American system doesn’t allow a split into a multi-party system, but that does not mean Republicans cannot poach these disaffected groups.
Everyone said the British Tories will never get the Asian and Caribbean votes, as well as the middle England mining towns, which were the Labour heartlands. Yet they did. So there is some truth in what AOC said. What she didn’t mention is that this is an opportunity for conservatives.