Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, August 14th, 2016.


The Whole Foods Party

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Democratic Party

Another great column by Andrew O’Hehir. Do read the whole thing.

I have a message for Democrats who look at Trump’s sliding poll numbers, in the wake of the Khan family feud and “Obama is the founder of ISIS” and “let’s try Americans at Gitmo,” and tell themselves that the nightmare is almost over and everything will soon return to normal. You are whistling past the graveyard. Hillary Clinton will very likely win this election, and it could end up as a blowout, although I’d be reluctant to bet the ranch on that. But what kind of “normal” are you so happy about? The paralysis and dysfunction of the entire last decade? To pretend that such an outcome — the candidate who is widely disliked and mistrusted defeating the candidate who is widely feared and despised — does anything at all to address the structural and ideological crisis that is eating away at both parties and the bipartisan system represents an epic level of denial.

You know who you are, oh nice people who feel vaguely wounded right about now! Despite the Bernie Sanders insurrection and the fact that the Democratic Party has been electorally eviscerated between the coasts and has hit a historic low point in terms of voter self-identification, you have somehow convinced yourselves that nothing fundamental has gone wrong and it will all be OK. I mean, yours is the party of good government and rational foreign policy and tolerance and diversity, right? Once you get past this unexpectedly ugly (and unexpectedly disturbing) election and park Hillary in the White House, the future is secure.

Then O’Hehir hints at what Thomas Frank said recently — don’t expect Hillary Clinton and the establishment Dems to live up to their recent progressive campaign promises. He also cited what Lenin said about the contradiction of  “bourgeois democracy” that promises equality but delivers economic injustice. O’Hehir continues,

What we have instead are two political parties in profound crisis. One of them has been compelled, however reluctantly, to confront the fact that its electoral coalition has collapsed and that its downscale white voters and zillionaire corporate funders have entirely different desires and goals. The other one is simultaneously in better shape and worse shape: It has won electoral pluralities in five of the last six presidential elections, which has allowed it to ignore the crisis or pretend it doesn’t exist.

Hillary Clinton and her wing of the Democratic Party represent Lenin’s contradiction, and still deny that it’s a contradiction. They stand for women’s rights and LGBT rights and combating “systemic racism,” and there’s no reason to doubt their sincerity. But as Thomas B. Edsall wrote in the New York Times this week, the Democrats are no longer a “class-based coalition” with an economic agenda, but a loose coalition of “upscale well-educated whites” and African-American and Latino voters in big cities. Some connection is assumed between the culture-war and identity-politics issues at the heart of the party’s current identity and universal economic progress, but its precise nature is unclear and essentially metaphysical. …

I particularly agree with this part:

… the Democrats’ predicament goes beyond the fact that they jettisoned class-based economic populism in favor of a whole package of free-market policies aimed at liberating the global flow of investment capital, and that the carnage of that Bill Clinton-era decision is all around us. As Edsall says, the party is becoming “increasingly dependent on a white upper middle class that has isolated itself from the rest of American society.” That’s what I perceived in Philadelphia: a party with an agreeable multicultural roster, almost pathologically devoted to the proposition that nothing was wrong with America that a little upbeat dialogue couldn’t fix. If Trump voters perceive the Democrats as “the party of the winners,” a cosmopolitan coastal coalition with no cultural, geographical or social connection to working-class America, they have a point.

One of the things that made me crazy about the true-blue Dems recently was that the objected to all those independent voters messing up their primaries and decided the answer to challenges from the Left is to close the primaries. Many sincerely believed a majority of the independents voting for Sanders were just Republican trolls. The party has “isolated itself from the rest of American society,” indeed.

O’Hehir makes a lot more good points; like I said, do read the whole thing.

With the end of the Sanders campaign has come the usual Great Splintering into multitudes of ineffectual fringe groups, because the curse of liberal/progressives is that everyone wants to be a leader. But one group that might actually accomplish something is Brand New Congress. Read an article about BNC here.

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