A very worthy discussion. - promoted by Bob_Neer
Aside from the fact that it ain’t over until it’s over, Democrats are sitting in a pretty good position for the general election.
The Republican brand is at an all-time low. The presumptive Republican nominee is widely reviled by women and people of color. He’s looking at testifying in a law suit against his Trump University scam and a convention that promises to be a circus. Big money donors are sitting out the presidential election. Even Charles Koch is expressing doubts. Republican voters are so pissed, they are ready to punish down-ticket GOP candidates. (See more here and here). We still have a long way to go, but the headwinds are favorable.
The root of the Republican problem is that the base has caught up to the party establishment:
Their party has historically won elections by appealing to racial enmity and cultural anxiety, but its actual policy agenda is dedicated to serving the interests of the 1 percent, above all through tax cuts for the rich — which even Republican voters don’t support, while they truly loathe elite ideas like privatizing Social Security and Medicare.
As far as Democrats are concerned, our
party defines itself as the protector of the poor and the middle class, and especially of nonwhite voters. Does it fall short of fulfilling this mission much of the time? Are its leaders sometimes too close to big-money donors? Of course. Still, if you look at the record of the Obama years, you see real action on behalf of the party’s goals.
We’re in good position, but there are always wild cards, the most important being Bernie Sanders and the Sandernistas. Bernie has inspired a lot of voters, but they aren’t all typical Democratic voters. There are the conspiracy theorists and the revolutionaries, the biggest revolutionary being Sanders himself. I wrote previously, one of the biggest differences between Sanders’ side and Clinton’s side of the primary was a theory of change. Kevin Drum says much the same thing in Mother Jones:
if you want to make a difference in this country, you need to be prepared for a very long, very frustrating slog. You have to buy off interest groups, compromise your ideals, and settle for half loaves—all the things that Bernie disdains as part of the corrupt mainstream establishment. In place of this he promises his followers we can get everything we want via a revolution that’s never going to happen. And when that revolution inevitably fails, where do all his impressionable young followers go? Do they join up with the corrupt establishment and commit themselves to the slow boring of hard wood? Or do they give up?
If Sandernistas were to change democracy for the better, I’d happily eat my words. But I’m worried that they truly don’t understand American politics. All the talk of revolution sounds great, but we haven’t had a revolution since 1776. As Drum says in his article, we’ve never had a revolution since then.
Ed Kilgore writes in New York Magazine that a group of laid off Sanders campaign staff has started what amounts to its own party with the political initiative A Brand New Congress:
the closer you get to the Sandernistas’ Brand New Congress initiative — the new project by recently laid-off Bernie staffers to create a revolution in Congress beginning with the 2018 elections — the less it looks like the instrument for a difficult but achievable task and the more it looks like the product of a very strange set of beliefs about American politics. It’s not focused on boosting progressive turnout in general elections, but on recruiting and running candidates in Republican as well as Democratic primaries who meet a rigid set of policy litmus tests. The idea is very explicitly that people alive with the Bern can literally elect a “brand-new Congress” in one election cycle to turn public policy 180 degrees.
President Obama began his presidency believing he could work with Republicans. We know how that worked out. If that weren’t weird enough, A Brand New Congress also believes it can work with tea party activists.
Corbin Trent, another former Sanders staffer, said bringing Republicans on board is “the key to it being a successful idea” and there’s enough overlap between Sanders’ platform and tea party conservatives to make the PAC’s goals feasible.
Reality television star Donald Trump’s current status as the Republican front-runner demonstrates that GOP voters are eager for candidates who, like Trump, criticize the corrupting influence of money in politics and the impact of free trade deals on American workers, Trent said.
“This will allow Republicans to say ‘Yeah, I’m a Republican, but I believe climate change is real and I don’t believe all Muslims are terrorists,” he said. “It will allow people to think differently in the Republican Party if they want to pull away from the hate-based ideology.”
Bernie Sanders and the Sandernistas have an excellent opportunity to change the Democratic Party. They won’t affect a revolution, but they can exert the force necessary to reorient the party. Sanders can get concessions on party platform, convention speakers, and DNC operations. They can work for progressive Democrats already running for office. Maybe they’ll make enough money from this initiative to keep themselves employed, but in the end, we need them to work on the presidential election.
Bernie will continue to run and make appearances. That’s okay. But we need to start working on party unity. Half-baked political initiatives won’t help.