How to fix the Democrats

Malcolm Durfee O'Brien

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Prior to 2016, the Democratic Party was the Party of unity in the face of the Republican Party’s moderate and Tea Party split. It was the Party of moderation in the face of rising political extremism.  It was the Party of leadership of ideas in the face of a new type of politics that aims only to oppose the ideas of others. Then came the 2016 Presidential Primary election and the roof of the Party caved in thanks to the war of words and character between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This division has started to seem unsolvable, even as the Party forms their policy to defeat Donald Trump. So then begs the questions, how does the Democratic Party solve their split? How do they unify their message? How do they win back their old base? Well, the answer is sitting in Virginia.

The Democratic Primary for Governor of Virginia was held concurrently with the Republican Primary on June 13th. This primary served as a reflection of the Presidential Primaries, with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam being a representation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and former Congressman Tom Periello representing the Sanders campaign. The two brutally attacked each other in debates and campaign ads, again like the Presidential campaign and animosity was clearly growing between the two major candidates’ supporters and the men themselves. On the night of the Primary, it became obvious that Northam would win and by a comparable margin to Hillary Clinton’s victory over Bernie Sanders, showing this to be yet another reflection of the Democratic war between Clinton and Sanders. Something changed after the Primary, unlike with the Democratic Primary which saw Senator Sanders cling on for dear life well after his chances of victory had evaporated and likely caused Secretary Clinton to expend excess resources on defeating Sanders, Tom Periello immediately and enthusiastically endorsed Ralph Northam after his defeat and sent a message telling his supporters to vote for Northam and Democratic candidates in the state’s various races. In the end, the general election saw Northam win the governorship by the largest margin for a Democrat in Virginia since 1985. Democrats also destroyed the Republican supermajority in the House of Delegates with their set of ideologically and culturally diverse candidates.

What does this mean then? It means that the best way to unify the Democratic Party is indeed the most obvious one, combine the two styles of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s pragmatism combined with the youthful energetic support of Bernie Sanders is an unstoppable combination and one that can easily be achieved. The races for the Statehouse saw the Democrats field the most diverse candidates in the history of Virginia, with half of them being women, most of them being below the age of 45 and a large amount being non-white, this drew out the ultra-liberal Bernie Sanders supporters, while Clinton supporters were attracted to the Democratic candidates by their pragmatic and realistic styles and messages. This style also drew out moderate independent voters who were tired of their Representatives constantly waging a culture war against gays, women and transgender people. Virginia is the site of the Democratic Party’s way forward, a way forward by adapting aesthetics.

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