Fellow Travelers

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

To The Left: Come Back In Off The Ledge

The Democrats lost the presidency. To Donald Trump no less! Somehow the Democrats, in supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign to their fullest extent at every point, managed to put up a candidate who managed to lose to Donald Trump. Surely this is the end of all things, yes? Surely we will all be put in cattle cars on 1/20 and shipped to gay conversion camps, even the straights, right?

Well, not so much. Actually I’m about as happy as could be expected. I wouldn’t have wanted Clinton or Trump to win. I had also largely resigned myself to Clinton winning. I had resigned myself to 4 years of machine politics coupled with liberal smugness, scolding those of us idealistic unrealistic dreamers who think that maybe we shouldn’t be in undeclared wars everywhere at once, and explaining to us why we’re sexist if we don’t support the Clinton Administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, which they'd tell us she has personally fixed and which really is the gold standard now.

Make no mistake. Trump or Clinton, I’d likely be opposing nearly anything they’d be likely to do. Neither of them were progressives. The problems would come from trying to successfully oppose a centrist capitalist democrat as a progressive or as anybody else on the radical left. Speaking with the experience of someone who has tried to do just that through eight years of Obama, it isn’t easy. So here are some reasons to be cheerful.

  1. Clinton winning would have been a disaster to the Democrats, for reasons explained in my earlier post from back in July. Now we have a real shot for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. Sure, we’re told that “You could have just challenged her in 2020!”, but anybody who seriously believes that is somebody with a serious disconnect from the realities of party politics. The 2020 Democratic Party would be crippled, demoralized, fractured, and ready to hand the reins of the 2020s over to the Republicans.
  2. It’s a perverse reality in national politics that nothing defeats a movement like winning. And nothing alloys and empowers an opposition like losing. This gives us the chance to clean out the Democratic Party, to say goodbye to the days of the Hillary Clinton Victory Fund, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Podesta, Donna Brazille, Huma Abedlin, and all the rest of that irreconcilably corrupt crowd. It lets us unite as activists in opposing Trump and the many wrongheaded and unrealistic and ineffective policies he’s going to likely propose. Meanwhile, the Republican base, the alt-right Trump voters, will be exultant up through the inauguration at least, but inside of about a year they’ll be angry and disillusioned. By 2018, once they don’t get their ponies, they’ll be sitting home in anger. Conversely if Clinton had won, the Republican base would be very angry. We had a very real risk of, at best, 1990s levels of domestic terrorism. Like a repeat of the OKC bombing, but more so, and probably quarterly. And at worst, a full nationwide multi-faction violent insurgency. There were an awful lot of ways that a Clinton victory could have gone very violently wrong.
  3. Republican incumbent politicians over the next 2 years will have to decide if they’re going to oppose Trump or work with Trump. If they work with Trump, they’ll be opposed by the left and by centrists in 2018, who will be able to attack Trump as president without being saddled with the defense of Clinton. If they oppose Trump, they’ll be opposed in primary fights by the alt-right who will view them as traitors, as they already do Paul Ryan, John McCain, and others. This opens the door for us to get some great candidates in office for the first time, or promoted to higher office, in 2018 and as prep for 2020.
  4. We're now much better positioned for 2020, and 2020 is all the marbles. If you remember 2010, the 2010 Census led to redistricting that gave the GOP a stranglehold on the US House of Representatives for the 2010s. 2010 was a midterm election and a backlash election for Democrats, and this got Republicans into state legislatures nationwide. Those state legislatures are where state level politicians draw the political districts both for the US House districts and often for the state legislature seats. In Ohio they turned three competitive districts into one packed safe Democrat district and 2 safe Republican districts. These districts were carefully gerrymandered down to the street level, if I lived in the next subdivision over I'd be in the GOP district. Now, in 2018 and 2020 the left probably isn't going to take back the US House, although it'd be nice. But what we can do is make huge gains at the statehouse level. This sets us up to carry out fair redistricting after the 2020 Census, which will give the Democrats a much better chance not only of taking back the House in 2022 (but maybe as early as 2020), but of holding it through the 2020s. 
  5. The Republicans have controlled the White House, House, Senate, and Supreme Court all at the same time before. From 2004-2006. It led to a massive Democrat wave in 2006 and Obama's election in 2008. And they didn't put gays in camps or overturn Roe v. Wade. In fact, the worst things the Bush Administration ever did, he had bipartisan support in doing, and prior to 2004 no less. Having single party control over the government leads to the opposition setting their heels in and actively resisting everything, and it leads to a backlash from voters. The backlash from Bush was pretty good, the backlash for Trumpism will be amazing.
  6. Trump was completely full of shit pretty much 100 percent of the time. This will hurt him with many of the people who voted for him because a lot of the things he said he'd do, he can't or won't do. Take gay marriage for example. It's a good wedge issue to stir up Republicans to get them to vote for you, and essential if you want to keep them voting for you in the general. But 60 percent of the country supports gay marriage, and that number isn't going down, so repealing it is political suicide plain and simple. They're going to talk about it, but they're not going to do anything. On top of that, there are quite a few Republican Senators in the US Senate who won re election and who support gay marriage. Rob Portman is one. Any GOP senator for a state where gay marriage is heavily supported is not going to want to fight that fight. 
  7. Anything that Trump and the Republicans actually manage to accomplish will lead to a huge backlash. It'll suck in the short term, but be much better in the long term. Say they actually manage to repeal Obamacare. Well, Obamacare sucks. It does some things well, but it does a number of other things very badly. If it is repealed, none of the underlying problems that caused Obamacare to be passed into law go away. Instead they return, stronger and worse. 
  8. The Clinton campaign for some reason decided to embark on a dangerous anti-Russian course. Putin is terrible. He's done terrible things. The Russians are a huge problem. The resolution to that problem isn't blaming them for hackers getting your poorly secured emails, or arming militias fighting a government armed by the Russians. Under a Clinton administration we faced a very real threat of increasing and escalating brinkmanship. Including a worst case scenario of the US military directly fighting the Russian military in Syria. Which could very easily lead to World War 3. Assume that the worst case scenario put forth by the Clintons and their media friends is true, and Trump is directly a puppet of Putin. Hey, that sure makes World War 3 a lot less likely? We can come back from Trump and Putin dividing up the world like Molotov and Ribbentrop, we couldn't come back from a nuclear war. Maybe Japan and Saudi Arabia get nukes... but Israel and Pakistan and India already do. And I'm less worried about a handful of nukes in those countries than I am about a full nuclear exchange between the US and Russia. 
  9. The TPP is dead now. It isn't going to be lost on Trump or on Republicans or on Democrats that he won the Rust Belt, and in no small part because he was the only candidate credibly opposing the TPP. Clinton supported it as a Secretary of State, unconvincingly changed course when running for office, was shown by her emails to be posing for votes https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/8452 , and she lost union households in Ohio probably as a result. Now it and other abusive trade deals are very likely dead in DC for the foreseeable future. 
  10. Probably the best result from this is that the Clinton way of politics has been resoundingly defeated. Big money has failed. Corrupt domination of the primary process has failed. Collusion between the media and a political party has failed. And in so doing, it has been irrevocably tainted. I wrote before about the risks of the Hillary Clinton Victory Fund and the dangers of that way of politics becoming standard. Well, it's pretty fricking dead now. Whoever the Democrats put up as candidates in 2020, they'll be the product of a populist process, not least because the old guard of Democratic politics is old now and aren't likely to be on deck to run in four years. Whatever remains of the Democratic establishment in 2020, they'll be very hesitant to try and force an unpopular candidate on the voters. 

Now, if you're a communist (I am), or LGBT, or a religious minority (I am), or an immigrant, you have a good reason to be worried about the coming four years. Because Trump and the Republicans could do all sorts of terrible things. But if it seems like working class rural Americans don't care about your problems so long as their concerns get addressed, well, at least now you have some idea of what it feels like to be a civilian in Syria or Yemen or Pakistan or Iraq, living under the constant threat of death thanks to Obama's foreign policy, with a bunch of Democrats in the US completely uncaring about your problems so long as their concerns get addressed.

Atheists and homosexuals are killed by the government in Saudi Arabia, the country working with the US to massacre Houthis in Yemen and arm militants in Syria, the country that gave between 10 and 25 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation. Life under a Democratic administration sucked for a lot of people in the world, life under a Republican administration will suck for a few more people, including those in the US, for a little while. And when the Republicans try to go to war somewhere now, maybe the Democrat establishment will actually help us oppose it, instead of the enthusiastic cheerleading that American militarism has enjoyed under Obama and would have enjoyed under Clinton.

To put it more succinctly, are you scared? Under the Obama Administration, Pakistani children learned to fear the sky. They were scared too. And now, with Clinton out of the picture, we have a good chance of joining with the Democrats and with the rest of the world in fighting these policies instead of tacitly or openly supporting them under the umbrella of lesser-evilism.

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