Skip to main content

Are Democrats more extreme than GOP?

By Alex Castellanos, CNN Contributor
October 15, 2013 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
The Statue of Liberty looms over visitors below on Liberty Island in New York Harbor on Sunday, October 13. The statue was closed to the public by the federal government's partial shutdown that began October 1, but reopened Sunday after the state of New York agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site during the shutdown. Many government services and agencies remain completely or partially closed. The Statue of Liberty looms over visitors below on Liberty Island in New York Harbor on Sunday, October 13. The statue was closed to the public by the federal government's partial shutdown that began October 1, but reopened Sunday after the state of New York agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site during the shutdown. Many government services and agencies remain completely or partially closed.
HIDE CAPTION
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alex Castellanos: While everyone focuses on GOP's right, the Democrats are being ignored
  • He argues that Democrats as a party have moved much further, in this case, to the left
  • Democrats are celebrating the shift to a more liberal view of role of government, he says
  • Castellanos: Elizabeth Warren wing of party could make life difficult for Hillary Clinton in 2016

Editor's note: Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist, is the founder of Purple Strategies and NewRepublican.org. Follow him on Twitter: @alexcast.

(CNN) -- Damn those extreme Republicans. President Obama and White House press secretary Jay Carney have found Republicans guilty of extortion and blackmail. Joe Biden, per a report in Politico, once christened Republicans as terrorists.

Liberals have led a media assault, calling the GOP anarchists, jihadists, "gun to head" hostage takers, and the political equivalent of the Taliban. White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer has likened Republicans to suicide bombers "with a bomb strapped to their chest."

What could be more extreme?

Alex Castellanos
Alex Castellanos

The Democratic Party.

True, the Ted Cruz wing in the House of Representatives is relentless, uncompromising and unmoved by practicality. As we all know, there are perhaps 40 or so "bullet-proof Republicans" in the House, in safe GOP districts, invulnerable except to Kryptonite. They fear a fellow Republican getting to their right in a primary more than a long-shot Democratic opponent who would paint their district blue in a general election.

No doubt, the GOP is a party divided, but there are a lot of Democrats in safe districts, too. Why don't they fear a fellow Democrat getting to their left in a primary? Why aren't the Democrats a party divided between a centrist mainstream and a more extreme, radicalized left?

Let us count the reasons: Barack Obama has taken the Democratic Party left of Clinton. He left blue-dog, centrist Democrats to be punished for his sins and they were wiped out in the GOP's 2010 Congressional landslide. All the while, the Internet has empowered and organized the party's remaining and most extreme elements. The Democratic Party can't go left. It is left, in entirety. They already occupy America's left fringe.

Nixon: De Blasio 'a real game changer'

Bill Clinton's New Democrats are dead. This is not Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party. Today's Democratic Party belongs to Elizabeth Warren. It is the party that just nominated a Sandinista trainee who returned from Nicaragua with "a vision of unfettered leftist government" for mayor of New York City, according to the New York Times.

And today's Democrats think this is a good thing.

They dream audaciously, as Ruy Teixeira wrote in the Atlantic, of a new "Emerging Democratic Majority." As Peter Beinart noted in a Daily Beast piece, "The Rise of the New New Left," "Bill de Blasio's win in New York's Democratic primary isn't a local story. It's part of a vast shift that could upend three decades of American political thinking."

The Democratic Party is now animated by the "mobilized left," Beinart writes, emboldened by Internet activism. Their cause was galvanized by President Obama's seemingly impossible re-election.

Once, Obama may have campaigned as a centrist, but that was long ago. He has since governed as an old school economic liberal from the '60s. As Fred Thompson has noted, Barack Obama has been "George McGovern without the experience." Obama's answer to every economic challenge has been top-down. Our governing class knows best, he believes, especially since Washington's elite now includes him.

If the world has changed in eight decades, our President hasn't noticed. His view of government is cast from the bronze of Franklin Roosevelt and the '30s. He puts our big, dumb, inflexible public sector at the top of American life, to mandate redistribution and prosperity.

At every opportunity, he has grown the public sector's archaic program-and-policy factory. This empty presidency tries only to cure too much old government with even more of it. Though little of what he has tried has worked, it has not seemed to deter his party. It hasn't deterred him.

His government doesn't govern education: The U.S. educational system barely edges out nations such as Slovakia, in international rankings. His government doesn't govern retirement: Our public-sector retirement system is akin to an unsustainable Ponzi scheme. His government doesn't govern health care: The Affordable Care Act is making health care more unaffordable for many seniors. His old government doesn't govern our economy: A record high 89 million Americans don't participate in the workforce and 300,000 more dropped out this August. Barack Obama is building the largest public sector since World War II and, yet, our government governs nothing.

Still, an intellectually exhausted Democratic Party proposes nothing new. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying until you are $20 trillion in debt and failure litters your streets.

The rollout of the Obamacare website is but another symptom of an old, hierarchical bureaucracy incapable of keeping pace with the complexities of a modern, adaptive America. Healthcare.gov is the best old Washington can do, not the worst.

While our world transforms itself through revolutions in energy, technology and communication, the ideologists of the left stagnate. Barack Obama's Democratic Party is intellectually exhausted. Their old Democratic Party has nothing up its sleeves but more of the same.

How our young President could only offer such dated ideas will be studied for decades. For now, we can mark candidate Obama's transformation from agent of hope and change to defender of liberal calcification as one of the great sleight-of-hand tricks in political history.

With any luck, he will be the last President who tried to teach our dinosauric public sector to dance to the music of a new and adaptive era. Others, beyond Obama, will not expand but instead transform what we now pretend "governs" us. As for his legacy, today's tweeters and texters will remember Barack Obama as the last President of the Industrial Age and once he is gone, there will be no cover for his party's intellectual barrenness.

Obama will leave a Democratic Party epitomized by ancient ideas, radically positioned left of our political center. The political trouble Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush is nothing compared to what Obama has teed up for a future contender such as Hillary Clinton.

Our former secretary of state has had no choice but to campaign for president earlier than she would have chosen. Clinton can see that this radicalized Democratic Party could easily leave her behind and find another champion. It did so before, to her distress, in 2008.

No other member of the old Democratic elite can possibly hold its left-sliding legions together, yet Hillary Clinton has only one credential that appeals to her party: She could be our first female president. Elizabeth Warren's growing followers, more in tune with today's radicalized, populist Democrats, are likely to find that distinction unimpressive. If Clinton's rationale begins to fray, all hands on deck: The Democratic Party's 2016 nomination process is going to look like the casting call for "One-Flew-Over-The Cuckoo's Nest."

Howard Dean may have screamed his way past the Democratic nomination in 2004, but the revolution he started has borne fruit. The 2016 nomination battle may be a fight between Elizabeth Warren, Governors Martin O'Malley and Deval Patrick, an unpolished pack of ideological duds and even a reinvigorated Dean, all vying to out-crazy each other and take the Democratic Party over a precipice. They'll make the troupe that sought the 2012 GOP nomination look like the committee awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Which party is more extreme?

A Republican Party divided between 180 mainstream House members and 40 Ted Cruz mini-me's? Or a Democratic Party united to preserve our fossilized, ineffective public sector?

A Republican Party advocating a path to fresh, natural, economic growth? Or a Democratic Party offering young voters the outdated economics of conformity, artificially imposed by Washington's elites?

A Republican Party being driven to offer change? Or a Democratic Party united against it?

Entrepreneurs, start printing tie-died shirts now. They will be hot sellers at the next Democratic Convention. Both sides are in for an interesting ride, but for Democrats, it's going to be an extreme 2016.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alex Castellanos.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1354 GMT (2154 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
August 17, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 2146 GMT (0546 HKT)
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2308 GMT (0708 HKT)
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT