The DA is in crisis. There are challenges to the chairman of the party’s federal council, James Selfe, who has guided the party for more than a decade. The effectiveness of party president Mmusi Maimane has been questioned by the DA’s own researchers. Controversies swirl around senior party figures, including Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. The DA’s strong performance in the 2016 local government elections was built on hypermotivated white voters in Gauteng and their coloured counterparts in the Cape. It is ironic that tribalism in politics is now exhibited most visibly by the DA. But it is wrong, if tempting, to attribute all the party’s problems to racial politics. Ideas matter. Some party activists remain wedded to the curious variant of liberalism that guided the Democratic Party. The current leadership includes one prominent proponent of creationism and homophobia, a black consciousness activist, and a champion of xenophobia and f...

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