The mid-term elections will soon be upon us, so it will be a good idea to get our house in order, and work though whatever painful but necessary conflicts sooner rather than later.
Of the two ways forward, resumption of incrementalism versus New Deal new brooms, I personally favor the latter. But there is no middle way. We will fall between the cracks if we try to split the difference.
Like many of us here, I am a progressive who has been an accommodationist. Politics is about compromise, and I am able to defend lesser-evil choices. Furthermore, the Trump victory ups the stakes and makes me want to reach out to any true friend, including the Wall Street wing of the party.
(That said, my own accommodationism does not look so hot right now. We all need to take some responsibility for what has happened.)
The salient question is, who drives? That’s the choice we have to make. On that score it is unsettling to me that the leading candidates for DNC chair spent the day of the Women’s March fundraising in Florida.
Here’s one argument: Clinton won the popular vote and almost won the election. The formula of progressive foot soldiers working for moderate candidates in exchange for limited but meaningful reforms worked before and will work again. People are well and truly energized now, and if we just hang together we will be able to elect an appealing Keane-esque candidate in 2020. One who won’t say “deplorable.”
Similarly, progressives should hold their noses and back moderate running for Congress in 2018. The public will be in the mood for moderation and maturity the next time around. This strategy leaves in place the old leaderships team in Congress, but this team happens to include some true progressives
Does that sounds as weak to you as it does to me? It’s the best case I can come up with for a return to the strategy that lost last year.
Yes, we almost won last year with this strategy. (Not so much in Congress, though.) But I think it will be a lot harder to do so on the same basis the next time around.
Instead, imagine this: In 2018, Democrats will win by running against Washington and Wall Street and calling for accountability. The purpose is to assemble a coalition that includes some of the people who voted for Trump, not by veering right but by articulating a real alternative to the status quo.
Talk of bipartisan comity should be restricted to discussing what we will do once the rascals are out and the looters are in jail and the opposition is no longer insane or blinded by greed. The purpose of the 2020 election will be to implement the agenda of the Democratic Congress thwarted by rump Republicans upholding vetoes of the (Republican) president. Which our folks will hammer home at every opportunity.
I like the second one better, but to return to my point:
We need a power struggle, the more orderly the better. One that concludes with motion forward and that does not involve fatal bloodletting but that rather has rules and mutual respect. There is no waffling or hedging on this one, though. Someone has to drive.
It’s not exactly the Bernie versus Clinton wings, but that’s maybe good enough shorthand.
How do we do this, please?