If a party continues to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, it is doomed to failure. Unfortunately, while the left flank of the party is genuinely working the base, I see too much status quo from the Democratic Party Establishment.
Many continue to spend an inordinate amount of time on Trump the man and Trump, the Russian stooge. It is effectively the same strategy that lost Democrats the electoral college.
Obama faults Republicans for Trump but misses the part we had control of, the Democratic Party Establishment
President Obama gave a speech in Columbus Ohio a few weeks before the election that was powerful yet in retrospect ineffective to many of the Trump voters. The video above includes the most striking snippets. After pointing out the reality that Trump is the encapsulation of all the venom and misinformation the Republicans have been spewing for decades, President Obama said the following.
“If your only organizing principle has been to block progress,” Obama continued. “And block what we tried to do to help the American people every step of the way? So you are not even consistent anymore. You claim the mantle of the party of family values. And this is the guy you nominate? And stand by and endorse and campaign with? Until finally at the eleventh hour, you withdraw your nomination? You don’t get credit for that.”
President Obama also said he blamed those in the know within the Republican Party more so than the citizens who would support Trump. By that same token, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party Establishment should be introspective as well.
Since President Obama’s election, we have seen the decimation of the Democratic Party throughout the individual states. For all practical purposes, the leadership remains the same. Is that not equivalent to rewarding failure? It is clear that the old timers refuse to relinquish power that would allow new blood and the growth of a succession bench. Why? They likely do it because they know that those in line would be more progressive and less entertaining of the party’s full embrace of neoliberalism with just a side order of progressivity.
The day after Trump’s election Naomi Klein, author of “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need” wrote an eye-opening piece titled “It was the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump” in the Guadian that still holds true.
They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.
But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?
Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.
At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cozy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.
Naomi Klein does not try to discount that racism, misogyny, sexism, and xenophobia used in Trump’s message worked. It is that this most carnal form of hate was effective because the groundwork was laid out to make it so. And until the Democratic Establishment changes its modus operandi, nothing will change.
Until the Democratic Establishment become less corporatist and develop a message in a form that one can sell and one that is immune to Republican fallacies, nothing will change. The 2018 Blue wave that many are hoping for will remain wishful thinking.
Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir hits the nail on the head in his recent article “Wake up, liberals: There will be no 2018 “blue wave,” no Democratic majority and no impeachment” that every Progressive should read. He ends with a prescient message.
I have previously argued that the Democratic Party’s civil war was unavoidable and has been a long time coming. Like most people, I assumed it would play out under President Hillary Clinton, not with the party reeling in defeat and at a historic low ebb. In the face of a national emergency, maybe Democrats will find some medium-term way to bridge the gulf between pro-business liberal coalition politics and a social-democratic vision of major structural reform and economic justice. Whoever the hell they nominate for president in 2020 will have to pretend to do that, at any rate.
But right now the Democratic Party has no clear sense of mission and no coherent national message, except that it is not the party of Donald Trump. I can understand the appeal of that message, the longing for a return to normalcy, calm and order that it embodies. What we learned in Montana this week — and will likely learn in Georgia, and learn again in the 2018 midterms — is that that’s not enough. There is no “normal” state we can return to.
For the Trump resistance to have meaning, it must be more than the handmaiden or enabler of a political party that has lost its power, lost its voice and lost its way. Electoral victories will come (and go), but we should have learned by now that they are never sufficient in themselves. Rebuilding and redeeming American democracy — if that can still be accomplished — is a much bigger job, and there are no shortcuts.
So what are Progressives who use the Democratic Party as their transport to do? Here is the reality. Most Americans support most of the policies of the Democratic Platform, a very Progressive Platform. We need to unabashedly promote our values directly from activists and the Party operatives alike. As more Americans hear our message untamed and unfiltered away from the sect within the party that attempts to temper its progressivity, the party base will grow insulating us for the most part from the country’s electoral college defect.
But it seems most Progressives are not into party machinations. If our intent is to get Progressive victories within the Democratic Party, one has to embrace the Party for all that it is worth and work from within, as viruses do. Replicate Progressives within the party by becoming precinct chairs where in the long run you can take control of the Party apparatus county by county, state by state. It is not a fast process. But if we do that as we work to grow the movement, success would be ours.
Also published on Medium.