America’s Democratic Party is an organization having a healthy debate in an unhealthy manner.
The healthy debate is over what ideas, policies, and philosophies the Democratic Party will embrace. The unhealthy manner is the media-saturated mess known as the Democratic presidential primaries.
A variety of candidates are offering Democrats three broad visions of their party’s future. The proponents of each vision claim their ideology is the only solution for America’s problems.
The three visions; or flavors, of the Democratic Party are Social Democracy, Traditional Democracy, and Technocracy. There is some overlap among these visions but the differences between the flavors are stark. We will analyze the visions below.
U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) want a European-style social democracy.
In a social democracy, an elected government controls the economy offers a wide variety of welfare benefits, and directly owns or controls many industries. In the United Kingdom, for example, the National Health Services owns most healthcare infrastructure.
Bernie’s supporters want what you could call “Full Sweden;” in which government controls as much of the economy as possible. Sanders; for example, wants full nationalization of America’s health insurance system.
Warren; on the other hand, wants you could call German Social Democracy. To explain, Warren wants a business-friendly social democracy. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the government finances healthcare for all provided by private organizations, for instance.
Sanders and Warren agree on a few points. Both believe strong unions could solve many of America’s problems.
Social democracy is popular because America’s dysfunctional economy is failing average people. Yes, the stock market is booming and the rich are getting richer.
Average people; however, do not participate in this bonanza. For instance, the Real Median Personal Income (Individual Income) in the United States in 2018 was $33,706 a year, The St. Louis Federal Reserve estimates.
Traditional Democracy is the historic philosophy of the Democratic Party. Under Traditional Democracy government and political parties exist to serve the interests of ordinary people.
The difference between Social Democracy and Traditional Democracy is that Traditional Democrats believe historic American political structures best serve ordinary people. For example, Traditional Democrats believe a radical restructuring of the economy is unnecessary.
In essence, traditional Democrats such; as Joe Biden (D-Delaware), argue traditional democracy is practical, realistic, just, and humane. Additionally, Traditional Democrats believe we can solve most problems by fixing or tweaking existing systems and institutions.
Finally, Traditional Democrats are conservative. Traditional Democrats revere the existing order and think they must preserve it all costs.
Traditional Democrats respect and defend historic traditions and institutions. Thus, Traditional Democracy is conservative.
Strangely, Traditional Democracy is the weakest and least popular of the Democratic Flavors today. Notably, only one Traditional Democrat; former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) has been successful in the primaries.
For example, Biden received the support of 30% of Democrats in the January 2020 Emerson Democratic Caucus/Primary Poll. In contrast, Warren and Sanders received the support of 40% of Democrats in the same poll.
History is the Traditional Democracy’s strength and weakness. To explain, Traditional Democrats can draw inspiration from great Democrats of the past such as Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York).
However, Traditional Democrats also inherit the Democratic Party’s long history of racism and corruption. Consequently, critics easily portray Biden as corrupt and a racist.
Technocracy is the belief Big Data and modern technology can solve our society’s problems. Technocrats believe our society needs a radical restructuring. Technology and Big Data are the tools the Technocrats will use to restructure our society.
The Technocrats disagree on how to use technology and Big Data, however. Andrew Yang (D-New York) believes we will need new infrastructures; such as the Basic Income, to rectify problems such as income inequality.
Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana); on the other hand, thinks we can use technology to make the current system work better. For example, Buttigieg wants to use Big Data to make the military and the welfare state more efficient.
Former New York Mayor and tech billionaire, Michael Bloomberg (?-New York) believes he can restructure government with modern business methods. Notably, Bloomberg Tweets pictures of his plans to implement an open office floor plan in the White House. Thus Bloomberg thinks Technocracy combined with a massive increase of government power can solve America’s problems.
The Technocrats disagree because their movement is new. However, Technocracy is popular because of the prevalence of technology in people’s lives.
Silicon Valley; for example, is one of the few sectors of American business that succeeds and makes money. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) are making money, transforming the world, and changing people’s lives.
Americans love the products of technology such as Amazon Prime, iPhones, video games, social media, and streaming video. Conversely, Americans distrust and disbelieve government.
Smartphones, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), and Amazon Prime do not discriminate against African Americans, for example. In contrast, the federal government and the Democratic Party have a long history of racism and discrimination.
Under those circumstances, the belief that technology; and its step child Big Data, could transform government into something better is logical and inevitable. Notably, candidates such as Yang are popular with younger voters.
On the other hand, Buttigieg’s promise of technological transformation without political or economic disruption appeals to older white voters. For example, only 7% of voters in younger; and racially diverse, California, supported Buttigieg in January 2020, The Los Angeles Times estimates. However, 18% of voters in older and whiter Iowa support Buttigieg, USA Today estimates.
Meanwhile Bloomberg’s plan to implement Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” philosophy in Washington D.C. appeals to lower-income people struggling in today’s economy. Importantly, Bloomberg and his advisers are targeting their message to economically distressed regions, Marker’s Stephen LeVine notes.
What Flavor will win the Democratic Primary?
Presently, Social Democracy is winning the Democratic debate. A January 2020 UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll estimates 46% of California voters supported Warren and Sanders, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Ultimately, I think Technocracy will win because it is the most attractive and versatile of the flavors. Notably, the youngest Traditional Democrat, Buttigieg embraces Technocracy.
The most probable outcome of the debate is a synthesis between either Social Democracy and Technocracy or Traditional Democracy and Technocracy. For instance, Yang’s Freedom Dividend combines Social Democratic notions of equality with the Technocrats’ love of efficiency and simplicity.
Meanwhile, Buttigieg and Bloomberg think they can transform government with Technocracy. The difference is how the duo plans to use Technocracy. Buttigieg will use Technocracy as a scalpel to make minor alternations to perfect the system. Bloomberg will use Technocracy as a sledgehammer to smash the system so he can rebuild it.
Thus, I expect to see Traditional Democracy die this year, although the media and the political elite will wage an aggressive fight to save it. Instead, the future of the Democratic Party will be a battle between Technocracy and Social Democracy. Once, Biden goes down in flames, I predict many Traditional Democrats will reinvent themselves as Technocrats.
Thus, Technocracy will be the flavor of the 21st Century Democratic Party.