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By Robert A. Vella

Establishment leaders in the Democratic Party have been trying to downplay the growing internal split between themselves and the party’s progressive base.  Hillary Clinton, in particular, has been focusing on topics where there is little disagreement – such as civil rights and modest economic reform issues – while trying to ignore serious bones-of-contention like President Obama’s aggressive push to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.  This strategy is based on the belief that progressives’ anger will dissipate with time as the 2016 presidential election draws nearer.

However, that strategy is predicated on the assumption that open warfare won’t break out in the party – an assumption which has already proved false.  In New York state, open warfare has indeed broken out between the corporatist establishment governor Andrew Cuomo and the progressive mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio.  From The New York TimesPatience Spent, de Blasio Accuses Cuomo of Hurting New York City Out of ‘Revenge’:

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in candid and searing words rarely employed by elected officials of his stature, accused Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday of stymieing New York City’s legislative goals out of personal pettiness, “game-playing” and a desire for “revenge.”

In an extraordinary interview, Mr. de Blasio, appearing to unburden himself of months’ worth of frustrations, said that Mr. Cuomo — who, like the mayor, is a Democrat — “did not act in the interests” of New Yorkers by blocking measures like reforming rent laws and the mayor’s long-term ability to control the city’s public schools.

“I started a year and a half ago with a hope of a very strong partnership,” Mr. de Blasio said of the governor, whom he has known for two decades. “I have been disappointed at every turn.”

Mr. Cuomo, the mayor said, had acted vindictively toward the city, citing cuts in state financing for public housing and what he called an abrupt ramp-up of state inspections of city homeless shelters “with a vigor we had never seen before.”

“That was clearly politically motivated,” Mr. de Blasio said, “and that was revenge for some perceived slight.”

The mayor added: “It’s not about policy. It’s not about substance. It’s certainly not about the millions of people affected.”

In 1968, a similar divide ruptured the Democratic Party over the Vietnam War which took fully two decades to repair and which allowed Republicans to seize power and change the course of American history.  For Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, this cannot be a good omen.  That is, of course, unless she plans on courting Republican and Independent voters instead.

Further reading:

At last, de Blasio takes off the gloves and hits back at Cuomo

In Bernie Sanders, an unlikely — but real — threat to Hillary Clinton

Related story:  Combative Maine Governor becomes a party of one

7 thoughts on “The Great Democratic Party Divide goes public

  1. Wow! I wonder what the result of the Cuomo- De Blasio rift will be. I must say that I’m impressed that De Blasio seems genuine in his efforts to fight for the demographic who have put their faith in him – low income people of color. Cuomo, on the other hand, continues to be a disappointment.

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  2. Where I am in Westchester County, near NYC, we are really frustrated with County Executive Astorino, who seems to also be blocking any efforts for important funding or reform. He’s a Republican, though, so it’s not really disappointing. It’s still maddening, though.

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