In a classroom in Harlem, the liberal new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, appeared with union leaders in support of his plan to raise taxes on incomes higher than $500,000 to fund public pre-kindergarten. "We're asking this of the wealthy," de Blasio said, "because there are too many working parents in this city today" who need help.
At the same time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was presenting his budget in Albany under a sign that trumpeted: "CUTTING TAXES."
You could hardly get a better illustration of the current tribal divide in the Democratic Party. Call it what you want—liberals versus centrists, populists versus the corporate wing—but these days, there's no doubt there are two different breeds of Democrats, both in elected office and in the activist grassroots. Along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, de Blasio has been hyped as the avatar of a new, more boldly progressive Democratic Party that discards the timid moderation advocated by the party's old guard in favor of a frank, take-no-prisoners crusade for higher taxes and bigger government.
But do Warren and de Blasio really represent the party's mainstream? The Democrats' liberal faction has been greatly overestimated by pundits who mistake noisiness for clout or assume that the left functions like the right. In fact, liberals hold nowhere near the power in the Democratic Party that conservatives hold in the Republican Party. And while they may well be gaining, they're still far from being in charge.