Democrats have spent the last three-plus years watching as the Republican party tore itself apart -- caught between its emboldened tea party wing and an establishment trying to hold on to power. But, Democrats have real and potentially lasting internal problems of their own, problems that will emerge far more clearly as President Obama's second term draws to a close.
2014 is not yet even two days old. But already, the beginning of the year is shaping up as a pivotal moment for the political left, which is poised to pick up a fresh dose of momentum before the end of January.
Look no further than both the nation's capital and its most populous city to understand why.
Legislative fights over abortion have been thrust squarely into the forefront of the political conversation in recent months. And emerging signs suggest they aren't going to fade away away anytime soon.
Want evidence? Just take a look at what's gone down in recent days:
1. Signing a law isn't always the last word: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed a bill to restrict abortion laws on Friday. By Monday, a federal judge put a 10-day freeze on the newly minted law that that mandates doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Regardless of how the legal battle turns out in the end, the matter is now much more than a one-day story. And it's a reminder that in other states like Texas, where a heated debate over abortion laws is currently underway, the end of the legislative debate does not necessarily spell the end of the overall debate.
Democrats say Republicans will pay a price in the 2014 election for their opposition to popular gun-cuntrol measures.
But even for many in the Democratic caucus, gun control still isn't a litmus-test issue. Democrats, quite simply, continue to be very accommodating to pro-gun Democrats -- even when they don't need to be -- and that bodes ill for any effort to revive the gun debate.
The L-word is quietly working its way back into the political lexicon.
The number of voters identifying themselves as "liberal" jumped three points on Election Day, from 22 percent in 2008 to 25 percent this year. That's the highest that number has been since at least 1976, according to exit polls.
The term "liberal" has long been somewhat of a pejorative in American politics -- or at least been less popular than the alternative.
The Democratic National Committee is aggressively pushing back against the idea that it is not doing enough to help the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, insisting that the party is marshalling its considerable grassroots and turnout operation to aid Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The DNC has directed $1.4 million to Wisconsin so far in the 2012 cycle with $800,000 of that coming since November, according to figures provided to the Fix. Nearly a quarter million of those dollars have been directed to the state party.
There’s no more persistent storyline in Democratic politics these days than the one that goes something like this: Liberals, the foundation of President Obama’s 2008 victory, have grown increasingly disenchanted with him over the intervening years and might not be there for him in 2012.
In a New York magazine profile of Arianna Huffington — founder of the Huffington Post and a leading voice of the liberal left —that was posted earlier today, Huffington said that she might not even vote for Obama in 2012; “Trust me, I realize how hard it is to change the system, but Obama has demonstrated only the fierce urgency of sometime later, and at the same time the middle class is under assault,” she said.
Elections are all about intensity. People who are excited about their candidate — or excited to send a message to the other guy or gal — are much more likely to vote.
And that’s why new numbers from Gallup out this morning are such a major problem for President Obama and Democrats on the ballot in 2012.