John F. Kennedy was a member of the NRA, pro-tax cuts, anti-Communist, and called abortion “repugnant.” Obviously the Democratic Party which lionizes Kennedy would be unrecognizable to him today. So, the question is, just how far left will Democrats go? Writing at The Atlantic, David Graham says that the future of the party looks more like Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than JFK. That’s not a good sign for the country. Graham writes:
According to Pew data, 46 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters now identify as liberal—up from 28 percent 10 years ago. Meanwhile, the percentage who say they’re moderates has dropped from 44 to 37. The number of conservatives continues to drop, too. But these changes most likely reflect the exodus of right-leaning Democrats as both parties become more ideologically homogeneous. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s been huge growth on the party’s left wing.
Then there’s the question of what it means to be “liberal.” Among progressive pundits, there’s a debate between “liberals” (for example, Obama Democrats) and “leftists” (progressives with more socialist inclinations). But Pew, which maintains the best longitudinal data, doesn’t subdivide that way, and it’s hard to know what voters mean when they self-identify as liberal. For example, support for LGBT rights was once a litmus test for American liberalism, notes Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report. Now that view is the consensus within the Democratic Party—and gay marriage is largely accepted among Republicans, too. So what is liberalism now?
“Is it the Bernie Sanders view on economic issues? Is it views on social issues?” Walters asks. “Can you have progressive views on social issues, but if you don’t agree with Bernie Sanders’s opinion on government size, are you not a liberal?”
Still, digging into Pew’s data on specific positions can provide a good sense of how Democrats are moving leftward on certain issues, especially immigration, economics, and race. Most astonishing is immigration. As my colleague Peter Beinart has reported, leaders in the Democratic Party have undergone a dramatic shift toward unalloyed support of immigration, including to a certain extent illegal immigration. But voters have moved as well. In 1994, just 32 percent of Democrats said that immigrants strengthened the country. Now 84 percent do.
Read more here.