The democratic party has been re-crafting itself since Clinton I into a "third way" party-- a party which accepts the major tenants of the old republican party. This rightward shift has lead to a deterioration of the democratic party over decades - an erosion blunted somewhat by a democrat in the White House. But the chickens are coming home to roost. The democratic party cannot rely on old networks to help its candidate to office - precious few democratic governors, a congress that is republican, and many state houses are republican.
Of course, according to the democrats, it is the fault of we the people because we do not vote. It is never the fault of the third way democratic party which fails to inspire people's trust or confidence, and which has not only failed to bring meaningful reform to voting but has engaged or tolerated some shaky voting aberrations themselves.
If the democratic party wants to remain meaningful and take advantage of the chaos in the actual republican party, it's time to do something radical, as Bernie Sanders proposes. And the word "radical" means return to the roots. From the article:
[Contributions of the Third-Way democrats include]:
NAFTA and other trade deals. In the 1970s, if unions opposed legislation, the chances of getting support from the Democrats were slim. Of course there were the Dixiecrats, but with the DLC and the new source of cash many Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, sided with big business and ignored labor's opposition to NAFTA.
Welfare Reform. The New Deal, the war on poverty, had become the war on the poor. Despite strong opposition from labor and other traditional constituencies of the Democratic Party, the Clintons and a Democratic Party-led House of Representatives forced millions of people into deeper poverty. The Clintons have championed welfare reform for over 20 years, despite study after study showing that it has severely harmed poor families and driven a historic number of black and Latino children into deep poverty. In the early 1990s, they designed a strategy to lure white voters back to the Democratic Party: capitalize on white disgust toward "dependent" black and Latina mothers on welfare. It wouldn't have passed in the '70s.
Crime Bill. Okay, Bernie voted for this too. But would it have passed through a traditional Democratic Party-controlled House with opposition from the Black Caucus? The mandatory minimum sentences and other measures have led to a country that leads the world in incarceration. There were some good portions of this bill. Those portions would have gone forward in a progressive Congress without the bad parts that were there at the request of the "new Democrats," who again were exploiting white middle class fear of black criminals. The Clinton-led centrist Democrats were reaching out to the same electorate that Donald Trump is reaching out to in 2016.
Deregulation. This may have been the biggest win for big business. Deregulation of the banks plus the telecommunication and agriculture sectors of the economy benefited the billionaire class at the expense of consumers. The Democratic Party was no longer looking out for the interests of the little guy. They became one of two parties that were in the pockets of the one percent. Deregulation of the banks has created a banking industry that is now too big to fail. The question is if the Democrats hadn't moved to the center to do the bidding of the one percent, where would the country be today?
Bernie Sanders is not proposing anything new. Bernie is trying to bring the Democratic Party back to its roots: The party of FDR and the New Deal, the party of LBJ and the war on poverty. Of course there were flaws. Dixiecrats, Hawks, Blue Dogs were there. It wasn't a perfect party. But Labor, feminist, civil rights, environmental, and peace groups had a much larger influence than they do today It's time to end the "Third Way" and move back to the old way. This time we can let the bigots take the hawks with them. The Dixiecrats have already left.
As Harry Truman once said: "Given a choice between a fake Republican and a real one, the public will choose ... the real Republican every time."