I see two dominant political factions in the Democratic Party today. The first is the FDR/LBJ progressives, who are not Socialists but real Democratic progressives in the best sense of the word. They believe that we should have an essentially free market economy that works for everyone and that there should be social insurance for people who fall through the cracks of the capitalist private enterprise system. They believe in a big centralized government and tend not to trust the states but they also believe that there are limits to what government can do well for people.
The second is the JFK/WJC or Bill Clinton Liberals who are called New Democrats. They believe that the safety net should just be there for the people who really need it. They like the idea of states being able to run their own social insurance programs and that these programs should primarily empower people to take care of themselves. These are the economic philosophies of the two factions. They have been the dominant factions in the Democratic Party for over eighty years and the basis of the party’s dominance over that period of time.
The people who are called Liberals and Progressives in America would probably be Conservatives in Canada or Britain and their center-left parties would look like our far-left parties, which brings me to my next point. The Democratic Party changed in the mid and late 1960s as more baby boomers came of age and became Democrats. The New-Left in America, today, is made up a lot of boomers and their kids. They staffed the Occupy Wall Street movement. This far-left movement combines both socialist and anarchist (when they see certain laws as unjust) leanings. They want a government large enough to see that no one is rich or poor, that we are all the same even if some of us are more productive and skilled than the rest.
The MSNBC talk lineup (is there anything else on MSNBC these days?) gets labeled as “progressive talk or progressive voices” when they are not ( and they sure as hell ain’t liberal either!). In actuality, they (except for Ed Schultz and to a certain extent Larry O’Donnell) speak for the Occupy Movement and the New-Left in America. The rest of them, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hays, and Melissa Harris-Perry are, I’m sure, fine decent people but they are whacked out New-Leftists. There are no limits to what they believe the government, especially the Federal government, can do for people. They essentially believe that Americans should want to (and consider it an honor to) pay Uncle Sam as much in taxes as necessary to take care of all us.