by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but opposition can make the body grow larger. At least it can if the body is a political party. Few things do that body better than a good dose of vitriol — a vitamin of amazing political potency. …
… [A]s numbers rose, Republicans’ unity did not. Confronting the Obama administration, lack of cohesion was not readily apparent or particularly important. Now having fully controlled the legislative process for two years, Republicans’ lack of unity has been all too apparent and important.
What Republicans now experience, Democrats may soon — should their November numbers swell as predicted — but even more, because their disunity is even greater.
Their 2016 presidential nomination contest demonstrated Democratic disunity’s depths. Even on the surface, the Democrats’ nomination fight was contentious. Sanders, much to the Clinton campaign and Democratic establishment’s chagrin, hung tough to the very end.
Yet, that split’s breadth can still be missed. Clinton won 34 of Democrats’ 57 contests and had 2,842 delegates to Sanders’ 1,865. However overall, Clinton won just 55% of the primary votes, versus Sanders’ 43%. …
… Democrats are more divided now and further out on the ideological spectrum than Republicans were at this point in Obama’s first term. Republicans would accumulate impressive congressional numbers but not unity, as they struggled to work together — not just substantively, but even procedurally at times.
Regardless of Democrats’ fortunes in upcoming elections, increased opposition numbers alone will not paper over their wide divergence. Opposition’s flaw is that alone it does not drive people to anything, only away from something.