Summary: Campaign 2016 is weird almost beyond belief. The oddness of the Republican-Right side has been much discussed, but less so the weirdness of the Democrat-Left. Their Party is not what it once was, and their members are not happy about the change. 2016 might spark a divorce.
The Democratic Party is not what it was
Quietly, with little notice, the Democratic Party has evolved into something quite different than the party that brought the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, and so many of the Boomers’ formative events in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Left of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (including the right to say “F***) has become the 21st Century Orwellian speech movement, inventing new prohibitions, mandating new forms of address, and declaring what can and cannot be said. For example, see “Bias Response Teams” by Robby Soave at the Daily Beast — “On a College Campus? Don’t Try to Tell a Joke”. Also see this amazing analysis by Eugene Volokh (Prof Law, UCLA) at WaPo: “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” — Excerpt…
“The NYCHRL [New York City Human Rights Law] requires employers[, landlords, and all businesses and professionals] to use an [employee’s, tenant’s, customer’s, or client’s] preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification.”
The anti-war party of 1965-1975 has become dominated by warmongers, advocating wars under our Responsibility to Protect women, children, and minorities. We destroy a secular regime in Afghanistan (& its women’s rights), then we wage war on the new regime to restore women’s rights (see more here and here). Our top warmongers flock to Hillary Clinton’s banner, ready to push America into new wars (Africom’s expansion lays the foundation for another decade or two of war).
The Democratic Party instituted broad and deep regulations of corporations from 1930 to 1976, culminating in the 1970’s Left that flirted with socialism. Now they align behind the wife of Bill the bank deregulator, recipient of massive financial support from Wall Street — in exchange for favors to be provided later. “Why Hillary Clinton’s 90s nostalgia is so dangerous” by Thomas Frank, op-ed in The Guardian — “To put the arch-deregulator in charge of an economy wrecked by financial bubbles is sheer folly.”
Since the 1930s the Democratic Party advocated stimulative economic policies to maintain full employment and raise household incomes. Now they do so only as a last resort, during recessions. Doug Henwood at Jacobin says it well in “Doom and Gloom Democrats” — “Democratic strategists are determined to discredit ambitious social agendas.” (Doug Henwood edits Left Business Observer and is the host of Behind the News. His new book is My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency.)
Trump’s views differ radically on many issues from those of the Republican Party leadership, but are closer to those of its members. Assuming a modest level of competence by Trump, he should be able to unify the party behind him, perhaps leaving it stronger.
Hillary has the opposite problem. She represents the leadership of the Democratic Party, with many views that differ radically from that of the party’s members. As explained in this great excerpt from Thomas Frank’s new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?
This gap drives the Sander’s insurgency. They are the remnant, an insurgency fighting for the soul of their party. Hillary might lose many of them. As Walter Bragman at Salon said in “Hillary Clinton is just Republican lite: Sorry, boomers, but this millennial is still only voting Bernie Sanders“. That will become even more difficult if they see the overlap between some of Sander’s and Trump’s policy positions.
The next five months might have a large effect on America’s future. For many of us, the choice will be between bad and worse. Before walking away from the election, let’s remember that it’s a more important choice than between good and better.
After the election? The GOP leadership probably can survive Trump and retain his followers. That might be more difficult for the Democratic Party. There are already warning signs, such as this by Shaun King in the NY Daily News: “Here’s why I’m leaving the Democratic Party after this presidential election and you should too“. “I will fight for Bernie Sanders until he is no longer running for president. After that, this will be my last election as a Democrat. I’m moving on and hope you do, too.”
What might follow a divorce between the Left and the Democratic Party? Trump represents a resurgence of long-suppressed populism on the right. The Left might tap the long-suppressed power of progressiveness. The result would be a new American politics, with unknowable results.
For More Information
- New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump.
- Populism arises amidst American workers abandoned by both Left & Right.
- How the Democrats became Liberals for the Rich.
- Hillary’s weakness: traditional & charismatic leaders attack her bureaucratic authority.
- Taxes: one of the bright lines distinguishing Trump from Clinton.