And Matt Flynn should know. One of ten Democrats running for the chance to face off against Scott Walker in the gubernatorial election in November, Flynn served at one time as the state party chair. That was then, Flynn told WHBY’s Josh Dukelow this week, but now Flynn says he can barely recognize his party — and wonders if it even still exists, as Jerry Bader reports:
Our party right now, and I’m probably the only one who says this, is pickled in identity politics and victimology. And when I was at the convention recently, in Oshkosh there were multiple caucuses of, there were all these subgroups, and there is no assimilation of the party anymore. When I was the chairman there were no caucuses. And I’m of the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy. That’s the legacy…
A lot of these other people. They are very, very nice people, but they scurry around with these various identities, and so on, and I think that sets me apart as well. So my own belief is that we should get rid of the caucuses in the Democratic Party and come together again. There were no caucuses under Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and John F. Kennedy, and they won’t be under Matt Flynn if he’s the Governor.
Hey, at least someone in the party paid attention to what happened in 2016, when Hillary Clinton went all-in on identity politics. The question will be whether anyone else in the Wisconsin Democratic Party does. Jerry notes that the state party currently has six officially recognized caucuses solely based on immutable demographic characteristics rather than policy, while three more based at least in some part on policy areas (Progressive, Rural, and Veterans Caucuses). That’s at least six groups that will not have very nice things to say about Flynn, despite his issues platform fitting well within the increasingly progressive mainstream of his party.
It might sound to some as though Flynn launched this broadside too early. Wouldn’t this make for a better general-election theme, where Democrats need to reach more independents and disaffected Republicans, assuming that there are any to be reached? Probably, but remember that Flynn has nine other competitors in the first-past-the-post primary. He doesn’t need a majority to win the nomination; all he needs is to get one more vote than the first runner-up, as Wisconsin doesn’t do run-offs. Flynn may well be sincere about the fracturing of his party into identity enclaves, but it may also be smart politics to make his case public. He’ll stand out from the pack and let the other nine split the identity-politics vote, and rally everyone else who feels left out to his side. It’s a Trumpian move, in its way. And given Trump’s surprise win in Wisconsin two years ago, it just might work.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking Flynn might be a centrist, though. He’s a prairie progressive, as his agenda demonstrates. The first two items on Flynn’s to-do list if he wins are to end right-to-work and Act 10 reforms, and then to create a state-run health insurance plan to undercut private health insurance. But at least Flynn’s among the few in his party speaking out against the balkanization of politics within the Democratic Party.