By Brian Rogers
This week, Philadelphia is welcoming a very different Democratic Party from the last time a Clinton was on the ballot for president.
Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton declared "the era of big government is over," just as Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's tax cuts and reform agenda were helping revitalize the City of Brotherly Love.
But Democrats gathering in the home of Ben Franklin have shifted sharply left on fundamental issues in recent years.
With the meteoric rise of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders and his liberal ally Elizabeth Warren - who both spoke in prime time to open the convention Monday night - this week will show that this is no longer the party of Bill Clinton and Ed Rendell.
This liberal overthrow of the Democratic Party establishment took center stage in the run-up to Philadelphia with the leak of Democratic National Committee leaders' emails plotting attacks on Sanders, which forced the resignation of Clinton supporter and party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This battle has played out over a range of issues in the Democratic primaries and in the bitter fight over the party platform that the convention will ratify this week.
First, led by Sanders, the grassroots of the Democratic Party are abandoning capitalism and the American free-enterprise system.
Both Democrats and Republicans have both long believed that capitalism and the free-enterprise system are vital to a vibrant, dynamic American economy. But that is no longer the case. Asked directly on NBC News last year if he considered himself a capitalist, Sanders said, "No, I'm a democratic socialist." On the floor of the U.S. House, Sanders once said, "I personally happen not to be a great believer in the free-enterprise system for many reasons." Through this campaign for president, Sanders has drawn millions of young Americans with his anticapitalist message, inspiring the next generation of Democratic activists.
Second, a widening gap is opening between Democrats and the law enforcement community over issues of law and order.
As the Inquirer reported last week, Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 issued a scathing statement saying its members are "insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows . . . of police officers killed in the line of duty." The police union, which represents about 14,000 police officers and sheriffs, ended its statement with this: "Mrs. Clinton, you should be ashamed of yourself if that is possible."
Third, Democrats are doubling down on their failed government-run health-care program even as states like Pennsylvania experience large premium increases and diminished health-care choices.
While Obamacare has already led to drastic premium hikes across the country, and the largest health-insurance company pulled out of Pennsylvania's exchange - limiting choices for consumers - the Democratic Party platform calls for even more federal involvement through a government-run "public option." With Obamacare already decreasing the quality of care and increasing costs, a so-called public option only doubles down on that failure, moving America closer to socialized medicine.
Together, Bill Clinton and Ed Rendell helped move the Democratic Party closer to the center of American public opinion, emphasizing the importance of free markets, fiscal discipline, and welfare reform. While both are in Philadelphia this week to help officially nominate Hillary Clinton as the Democrats' choice for president, they are also kissing goodbye a party that is lurching left and abandoning so many of the principles on which America was founded right here in the Cradle of Liberty.