Democrats still struggling to unite at annual retreat

Democrats are holding their annual retreat  in Baltimore this week and Politico reports they are eager to project an image of “unqualified unity.” But beneath the veneer of unity is an ongoing divide between those looking to quantify the 2016 loss (and possibly learn something from it) and those who just want to follow “visionary voices” who will lead the party out of the wilderness:

“We need to stop doing the autopsies, stop doing all this metric data stuff and listen to the visionary voices,” lamented freshman Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who represents Silicon Valley…

“One of the things we have to do is stop listening to the consultants who continue to lose,” Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio said. “I think at some point we have to listen to the people who win.”

Caucus tensions are “definitely still simmering,” a House Democratic aide said Thursday. “[The] problem is that it was such an ass-kicking up and down the ballot that no one knows who is right anymore.”

Politico had a report yesterday suggesting a similar divide over how to respond to Trump’s success. On one hand, Democrats in leadership seemed open to moderation and perhaps even working with the administration if the right circumstances presented themselves. But younger Democrats were more interested in obstructionism at every turn. A similar divide was reported Wednesday by the Washington Post. One of the sessions at the retreat was being led by a centrist think tank called Third Way. That didn’t sit well with progressive groups:

“Basically you’re deciding we’re going to figure out our path forward with a bunch of losers,” said Charles Chamberlain of Democracy for America, another activist group.

Erica Payne, founder of the Agenda Project, called it “illogical to the point of absurdity” to believe that Third Way could lead Democrats out of their electoral abyss and compared it to Republicans calling on former Florida governor and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush for advice.

The divide between the Sanders/Warren wing of the party and the Clinton wing persists. After Clinton’s unexpected loss, progressives want to move the party hard left. That would have been a recipe for disaster a decade ago but 2016 showed there was an appetite for unapologetic socialism within the party.