If you were lucky enough to black out sometime during or after November 9th and just recently came back to the land of the living, you wouldn’t notice much of a difference in how the Democratic Party has been handling their eviscerating loss in the last month.
Despite an electoral lashing that finalized the collapse of the party starting in 2008 that would have snapped anyone else out of their complacency to do something, like the GOP did after the 2012 Presidential race, many leading Democrats have not truly realized or admitted to anything that they did wrong in staying the course. On the contrary, as Sanders and other progressives struggle to force Democrats to change course, the party is wasting valuable time they don’t have. Time that is going to cost the welfare and being of millions of people’s lives.
The best Democrats have offered is acting as a firewall against Republican extremism for the last eight years, and now that’s gone.
That has been their most useful asset as a party. Built upon the pillars of decades of leaning rightward disguised as pragmatism and compromise, the shifting sands beneath finally wore them away, crushed under the oppressive existence of poverty, of lack of affordable health care, of trade and jobs, and of the empty vision of the near future, that in one way or another turned voters from Obama in 2008 and some in 2012 to Trump in 2016, unveiling a sinkhole of fear and anger that the party relied upon to keep them floating. Hope and change turned against them. Dark money has fueled the rise of the far-right wing of the Republican party at every level of government and their extreme agendas, particularly since the election of Obama, but the Democratic Party has made a nice living for themselves trying to simply keep these things largely the same. What should be the party of working people in a capitalist democracy is a party of liberal elitists and donors grinding against the gears of capitalism. They continue to think they are the answer, as the party has lost control of the Presidency, the House, more than 1,000 state legislatures and local races down to the municipal level since 2008, being reduced to a coastal party of elitism held up by minorities who have nowhere else to go.
It wasn’t the white working class that made up the majority of Trump’s base, but it was the key that led him to victory in swing states. It wasn’t a high turnout of the white working class where Trump won more than Hillary, it was low turnout where Hillary didn’t even bother connecting with them at all. And it was the lack of a vision, or at least an economic one in response to Trump, that led to lower turnout from all working class people, because voting against a party wasn’t enough for young people and people of color either when you offer only yourself and no solutions.
The punchline is old, the jig is up: this election was one of disillusionment, Steven Thrasher writes, “After we went all out for Barack Obama in 2008, only to discover that having a black president didn’t change how black people are disproportionately unemployed, arrested, incarcerated and killed by police, it’s little wonder that early voting is down among black voters.” Trump paraded and stroked the ugly nature and history of this racist country, Bernie offered a brief glimpse of hope, and Hillary didn’t bother to read the tides, leaving us to suffer. Much has been written about what went wrong, and in that time there has been no real reform or materialized, organized resistance to Trump within the party. Al Gore met with Trump on climate change, only for Trump to hire climate change denier and Oil ally Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA two days later. As leading Democrats play politics at the most gutless level in response to readily handing the white house to a far-right fascist, they remain woefully inept losers and are unprepared for what is coming.
The revenge of the right will be swift and violent. In just six weeks Republicans in Ohio moved forward with the extreme anti-abortion ‘Heartbeat bill’, put onto the desk of John Kasich today, with its fate still in question. CNN reports that “Donald Trump’s election, and a presumption that he’ll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, spurred Ohio Republicans to pass what would effectively be the nation’s strictest time-based abortion law” according to a legislator, emblematic of the dangerous ideology to come. Republicans now control 67 state out of 98 state legislatures, having gained 27 since 2008, losing the house, senate and over a thousand state seats in the last eight year— that isn’t Hillary, though she certainly helped depressed the down ballot this year—that’s the party.
Lives are always on the line in politics, but Republicans are now in total control. Trump continues to fill his cabinet with white supremacists and deeply corrupt and unqualified candidates. Public education, health care, social security and other programs are under threat of privatization, and muslim people, black people and undocumented immigrants fight harassment, brutality and mass-deportation day to day, and now even more in anticipation of an oppressive administration. We’ve already passed the tipping point on climate change and are not many Presidential terms away from the point of no return for the future of this planet and human civilization. This was literally a world-ending election and Democrats screwed it up, offering no hope or strategy out of this disaster.
“You cannot be a party which on one hand says we’re in favor of working people, we’re in favor of the needs of young people but we don’t quite have the courage to take on Wall Street and the billionaire class. People do not believe that. You’ve got to decide which side you’re on,” a warning that Sen. Sanders has repeatedly expressed about the party and their dangerous indecision. Sanders has made this line of criticism for decades now, having been separated from Democrats and their fundraising scheme as an Independent but largely working with Democrats to accomplish legislation. But even now after Sanders is now more powerful than the once-Clinton machine and one of the leading voices against Trump, and that he was right to say months ago that he would have been the stronger candidate against him, his wing of the party does not have the numbers to tug leading Democrats by the ear and force them to listen and act.
Obama has argued that it will be difficult for Republicans to undo every inch of progress his administration has made in his two terms, such as taking away healthcare of more than twenty million people who rely upon the Affordable Care Act, but make no mistake: Republicans retain no underlying empathy and will continue to cut back as much as possible, being capable of passing pretty much anything they want under an unpredictable and dangerous President.
For every day Democrats waste, for every consistently wrong move they make, and for every opportunity they pass on to reform and organize the party, they have more blood on their hands.
After losing for years and fucking up an election handed to them on a golden platter, with a practically non-existent national strategy and clearing the field for Hillary Clinton, one of the worst presidential campaigns in American political history, they are already awash in it, as they shrug the bile off their shoulders.
In the time they’ve had to reflect, Democrats have not, and made three major moves.
Re-electing Chuck Schumer as Senate Minority Leader in place of retiring Harry Reid, re-electing Nancy Pelosi as House Democrat Leader, and watching progressive Rep. Keith Ellison up for Chairman of the DNC get smeared behind the scenes, as he remains the party’s last, best chance for change and relevancy.
After a couple weeks of denial, electing Chuck Schumer is the worst pick to lead the party at this time, Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept. Schumer is a centrist Democrat with one of the worst economic records you could ask for with irrelevant political expertise, being known for his infamous quote during the general, “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, Schumer talks PR for the party:
“When you lose an election the way we did, you don’t flinch, you don’t look away. You look it in the eye and say ‘What did we do wrong?’” said Schumer, who also had a significant role in Democrats’ 2016 calculations. “To me, overwhelmingly, we did not have a strong economic message. What we need is a sharper, bolder, stronger, more progressive economic message.”
Schumer explained that includes staples from the Sanders and Warren wing of the party ― debt-free college, at least some of the free college that was so mocked by the Clinton campaign, a higher minimum wage, a “bolder” stance on trade, a tougher stance on the “rigged” system of lobbyists and special interests, and major investments in infrastructure, among other ideas.
Schumer appeals to an economic message, but not addressing deeper issues with the party through real reform and change of leadership. Schumer’s record inspires exactly no confidence in taking this lesson to heart, and the only real hope is that it offers Sanders, Warren, Ellison, and others of the Progressive Caucus as much as room as they can stretch. Schumer gave Sanders the Chair of Outreach position, a newly-created position managing half of the “Steering and Outreach Committee”, smacking of PR while still only offering limited space for change for a party who won’t change leadership after everyone on Earth watched them lose to a reality-TV orangutan.
Not long after, now re-elected Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said that the Democratic party doesn’t need a new direction, only a change in message:
DICKERSON: The Democratic Party is in a moment of questioning about its identity. You were reelected to lead the Democrats in the House. What do you tell Democrats who want a new direction? And then go to you. What are you going to do differently?
PELOSI: Well, I don’t think that people want a new direction. Our values unify us.
And our values are about supporting America’s working families. That’s one that everyone is in agreement on. What we want is a better connection of our message to working families in our country.
And that clearly in the election showed that that message wasn’t coming through. But we are united in terms of the security of our country, which is our first responsibility, to be smart and strong and not reckless in how we protect the American people, strong in how we protect our economy.
Pelosi, having worked as Democratic House Leader for 14 years in the DC bubble, was challenged by Rep. Tim Ryan from Ohio, who argued in his bid that “Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929. This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections.” Ryan argues that Democrats have lost touch with middle America, citing defeats in blue-collar and working class states Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
“Without even asking anybody for a vote, I have over two-thirds of the caucus supporting me,” Pelosi boasted shortly after Ryan issued his challenge like it was a good thing, as if any of those people in the caucus know what’s going on in those states. None of this remains Pelosi’s or the Democrats fault, it was Comey and the FBI’s, as she goes on to say, “We could just see it in the numbers, you know? We thought we were like at 20 (pickups) and trying to go for more,” speaking of more polls and numbers that were completely wrong about the Presidential election the day of.
The pattern takes shape with Schumer and Pelosi, as the focus again becomes message, message, message, and not real change or a new direction for the party.
The joke of this is even visible to the National Republican Congressional Committee in their statement from Communications director Katie Martin: “No single person deserves more credit for House Republicans’ historic majority than Nancy Pelosi. Under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, House Democrats have become completely irrelevant, and there is no better way to ensure that remains the case than by keeping her as Minority Leader. The NRCC offers its full support to Nancy Pelosi as she attempts to fend off this challenge to her failed leadership from within the ranks of her own party.”
There’s no reason maintain a facade here, or undercut anyone to invent conflict and doubt; the Democrats are irrelevant now. They might not all know it yet, but Republicans certainly know it, and they will remain so for years.
The only thing Republicans have to worry about at the moment is keeping Democrats beaten down and irrelevant through 2020, so they begin planning a political hit job on black, muslim progressive Keith Ellison, the only one of the three they’ve bothered with at this point, joined in by Pro-Israel advocates.
It began with the Anti-Defamation League releasing a statement about a speech Ellison made in 2010, taking his remarks out of context:
New information recently has come to light that raises serious concerns about whether Rep. Ellison faithfully could represent the Democratic Party’s traditional support for a strong and secure Israel. In a speech recorded in 2010 to a group of supporters, Rep. Ellison is heard suggesting that American foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by Israel, saying: “The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.”
The full speech makes it clear that Ellison continues his general support for Israel, but remains critical of US funding and Israel expansion into Palestinian territory. In the Zionist swamp permeating Washington, the slightest criticism towards Israel becomes a full blown retaliation. This also happened with Sanders earlier this year, who supports Ellison for DNC chair. Democratic donor Haim Saban smeared Ellison as anti-semitic, followed by CNN running remarks Ellison made about Louis Farrakhan he was 26 years old, before J-Street stepped in to fight the scrutiny. But the floodgate had already opened, as conservative outlets such as Truth Revolt, Fox News, and Commentary Magazine piled on, and then The Observer, owned by Trump’s son in-law Jared Kushner, who said Ellison shouldn’t be picked. So it became easy for Democrats to gain something from this.
“In a sign of the discord gripping the party, President Obama’s loyalists, uneasy with the progressive Mr. Ellison, have begun casting about for an alternative, according to multiple Democratic officials close to the president,” Jonathon Martin wrote for The New York Times. Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, Howard Dean– all scientifically wrong choices, as if they were written to be multiple different bad endings for the same video game. Lobbyist Dean dropped out after having strange criticism towards Ellison as a pick, claiming he can’t do both his job in congress and as the DNC chair, despite silence towards Debbie Wasserman Schultz doing the same thing. Shortly after, black lobbyist Jaime Harrison from South Carolina show up on the Rachel Maddow show to talk about his running, where Maddow expectantly barely challenges him on said lobbying, clients, or record. Harrison is also linked to the Podesta Group, and to Democrats, lobbying and elitism is good as long as it has diversity.
Like telling a fish out of water it won’t survive for long, Ellison has offered to give up his seat in congress if he becomes DNC chair, a sacrificial and unnecessary move all but begging Democrats to let him help them, understanding the stakes, as Democrats ask, “What water?”
Ellison was the favorite out of the gate, but his eligibility for the position is now unclear. As the walls come down around the party and they’re left without a roof over their heads, these goons are more worried about the Sanders-esque progressive movement taking over the party than stopping Republicans. With Pelosi and Schumer already scraping the barrel, Ellison is the only candidate who could possibly reform the party into one that wins election. His candidacy carries the weight of people all over this country and planet that are going to be affected by this party and US politics going forward.
In all the noise and denial, time wasted on this infighting has revealed much about the cowardice of liberalism.
Democrat leaders wanted opposition without an answer. A goal without a cause. They pictured summoning a dark foe they could vanquish in ceremony and send back to the void at their behest.
Inner communications leaked by Wikileaks revealed that Democrats strategized to elevate “Pied Piper” Candidates that were considered the far-right fringe of the Republicans, in that they would be easier to beat on the basis of being “unelectable”. What they never considered about this and what they planned their nation-wide strategy on is that Trump tapped into an appeal they didn’t recognize.
Despite winning the popular vote, Democrats find a way to mess this up as well; instead of strong arming Trump and the GOP to implement any protective measures they can muster with aggressive politics before the tide hits, which you can be sure the other side would be doing well in the reverse situation, they whine and say Hillary was a good candidate and that the party is going to be fine, according to Harry Reid. This is blatantly ignoring turnout was at a 20 year low because there are more literal people breathing in the country, so there are more registered voters, and the electoral college being an undemocratic system doesn’t change that in any election where everyone already knows that and has to plan strategy around it their campaign was so bad they couldn’t beat the most unpopular political figure in the country with the second most unpopular figure.
Democrats elevated Trump with the singular purpose of creating the best-case scenario for Hillary to win, who they unequivocally supported for years behind the scenes, even though she still had a chance at losing. Columnist and Clinton supporter Brent Budowsky wrote in another leaked email:
Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump….she has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify…..even a clown like Ted Cruz would be an even money bet to beat and this scares the hell of out me…..
Even with all the advantages, all the money and fund-raising they could garner, they gambled with the fate of the country and killed the world.
Hillary and her staffers shat the bed by strategically blowing the easiest election they could have been handed, the one they and many of her supporters wanted, and the one they strategically worked for by legitimizing trump and his campaign, in the exact, singular way that would have allowed Trump to win in the first place. There were so many fatal errors in their approach, message, and ground game that precisely paved the way for him to win by a narrow popular lead in their three “Blue Firewall” states that Democrats have not lost in decades. This is the reality many of us have known for weeks now.
None of this matters to many leading Democrats, because for months before Nov. 8th scapegoats were weakly propped up to set the stage for any possibility that Hillary would somehow lose this election. So the subject of blame changes every other day, and thus far no new suspects have been named. First, there was a scurry to blame third parties, but then predictably it changed hands to Russian hacking like a hot potato with no evidence, as if they would experience the burn of utter shame and humiliation if they reflected on it for too long. The FBI is blamed every couple days at this point. Then it was black and hispanic voters for low turnout, and now third parties again, young people inevitably, and now “fake news”.
As harassment and hate crimes are on the rise, killer cops go free, Standing Rock continues protesting against police violence and Trump amasses his league of super-villains, Hillary and her staffers appear in public only to avoid taking for the human suffering they have let loose. To those in denial, “Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House. Let that revolting president-elect be Millard Fillmore or Herbert Hoover or whatever. Hillary is Athena.” And as President Trump’s troops drag me and others off to the electro-shock detention center for Vice President Mike Pence’s mass-conversion therapy experiments, I’ll be sure to tell everyone Hillary is a beam of light who won the popular vote.
It isn’t the fault of Hillary who ignored the cries of Michigan volunteers, never visited Wisconsin once during the general election, wasted resources on red states, and strategically chose to make this election a personality contest largely devoid of substance and policy; it was the voters, naturally.
There were certain elements Democrats and Clinton simply could not control during the general; the FBI and Wikileaks undoubtably affected voters. But in case Democrats were too arrogant to realize the risks, maybe unequivocally supporting someone who’s under FBI investigation, who’s been harshly criticized for years for amassing contributions and foreign donations for personal and political wealth, and who’s widely hated and alienated by middle America was a bad idea. A dangerously stupid one.
A little self reflection from Democrats leading to a few different major decisions for the campaign that don’t require much hindsight would have saved us. But even if had they won against Trump with Clinton or someone else, maybe they could have also nominated someone who would also be good to lead the party and the country in a new direction.
While the Clintons slowly navigated the demise of the Democratic Party starting with the election of Bill Clinton, the rise of New Democrats, centrist and conservative Democrats like the DLC, leading to deregulating Wall Street, legislating crime and welfare reform that sparked an unfettered swelling of incarceration, poverty and neoliberal policies nailed in the coffin by Hillary Clinton’s loss, they are not a single river in the swamp of politics. This pathology and complacency run deep in Democratic elites, even faced with devastation and untold consequences, and must move left for bold, progressive solutions to fight fascism with socialism or continue to lose at every level of government and endanger the rest of the world.
DNC staffer Zach’s urgent and succinct line of attack needs to be repeated month after being reported:
“Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this?” he asked, according to two people in the room. “You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself.”
Some DNC staffers started to boo and some told him to sit down. Brazile began to answer, but Zach had more to say.
“You are part of the problem,” he continued, blaming Brazile for clearing the path for Trump’s victory by siding with Clinton early on. “You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.”
The Democratic Party is responsible for this and they don’t deserve forgiveness. They helped create Trump, and a month later, they still haven’t learned anything, leaving us to the consequences their arrogance and incompetence sown.