So, what, if anything, do last night’s election results mean?
It seems that the American people are out for incumbent heads once again. Non-presidential elections always seem to be bloodbaths for the majority party. And while I am glad the pendulum is swinging leftwards-politics being what it is here, nothing will get done that helps anyone because of the incredibly steep hill we as a Democratic Party must climb to triumph, and when we don’t make it to the summit, then the pendulum will swing right again (sorry about the mixed metaphors). If there’s anything you can count on in this world, it’s the shitty memory of the average US citizen. It doesn’t help that they are being lied to by half the radio dial, hundreds of crap dailies, and a major “news” channel either about what’s good for them. We’re a perpetually unsatisfied bunch, on the whole, and that is probably by design.
That’s my cynical take. I could be wrong, last night’s blue wave might be a harbinger of things to come. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, because we’ve gotten to the summit before(2008 until we lost Ted Kennedy and got Scott Brown). Really, the big important takeaway is that Donald Trump is really only good at one thing, and that’s alienating people. If there is any meaning at all to yesterday, it’s that Trump is not magic like he’d have you believe. In his mind and his stunted supporters’ minds, it was his charisma and vision that propelled him to victory in 2016. His statistically improbable win gave rise to a variant of The Trump Effect, which posited that his upset victory made him and Republican candidates who hewed to him invincible, all the way to 2020 when he would be elected again.
Now I was dead wrong about 2016. I fully expected an establishment election, with Bush losing to Clinton. But because of the weaknesses in the Republican field there was room in the national conversation for a blustering, self-promoting demagogue to turn the right wing in this country into a cult of personality seething with hatred and resentment towards its neighbors and anything else that wasn’t ‘Murican, which is to say white, male, straight and Christian. But I don’t think I’m going to be monumentally wrong again in that manner, and if I am, I should just turn in my pundit pin and go think in a dark room for a few months. Donald Trump is a fraud, a phony, a Pied Piper for idiots, and most of us have already figured that out. There will always be that perpetually blind 25% or so of people who really are Nazis, alt-righters, supremacists and racists, to whom Donald Trump seems like a godsend. But no one who wants to keep their job in Washington really wants to get any closer than arms length to Trump, and Republicans may forgo the huckleberry vote in a bid to hold the center, which is the sweet spot every perennially successful movement wants to be in.
That sweet spot is currently held by Democrats, if we can impose a little discipline on ourselves( looking at you, Donna Brazile, Bernie-hangers on, etc.). My best self is socialist, but I will wait patiently while we discover ways to make its principles palatable to a country obsessed with outmoded caricatures of “individuality”, which may have made for good novels while we were still
stealing land expanding as a nation but is wholly incompatible with the modern interdependent society where we don’t have to leave our neediest behind, work our lives away and grossly enrich ourselves as others struggle simply because they weren’t born fortunate. Now, I’m white, male and straight, and taken care of by the Veteran’s Administration and so I realize that my ability to “wait” is privileged to the point of being odiously gauche. But there it is; calls for revolution will not sit well at the center. We must nudge and not shove. It’s either that or a second civil war, one that crushes all the oppressive forces of patriarchy and racism and sexism and superstition and lack of understanding. I mean, I know what side I’ll be on if it goes down, but do we have to get to that point before we tolerate each other? Who of us will be counted when we do? Most of us have work in the morning.
Let’s hope politics is the answer. Indeed, it may be our last.
Cornel West is a brilliant thinker. He is a man of and for the people. I’m in agreement with just about everything he stands for.
So why am I about to tell one of our most erudite scholars on the American…nay, human condition to shut the fuck up?
People who think for a living are idealists, by and large. And in a vacuum, all of their ideas are practical and their aims acheiveable. When overlaid upon objective reality, ideas often break down and become unworkable, and sometimes they even become the enemy of the original idea.
A new born Bolshevik Russia comes to mind. Marx would have been horrified by the way his communism was twisted as Lenin eventually killed his way to absolute power. And we all know that his successor was even worse. Marx’s proletarians would have rejected the brutality of the Communist Party. They would have known what it was like to be brutalized and would not wish that on any man even if he were from the most odious heights of the bourgeoisie. Any good Marxist rejects crude violence upon men to achieve Marxist aims. Because when you look into the abyss, it looks into you. You become what you despise-the oppressor. Marx wanted violence against the idea of classes and other social divisions, not people per se. Of course, sometimes when you get hit, you should hit back. Some would say that capitalism has thrown plenty of punches due to its inherent exploitative nature and therefore there is nothing wrong with a little “revolutionary terror” in return. But we must first and most importantly unite as the laboring class before we even decide upon the means of destroying capitalism, which I consider to be modern feudalism. And if the ruling class will not bend, we will break them-but I don’t necessarily think that requires cruelty and base evil to be in service to us. Much as I despise a petty tyrant like Donald Trump, I would much rather exile him before I put his head on a pike. I’ll pick up a gun again when one is aimed at me, and not a minute before. Of course, as a white lower-middle class male American, I’m not subjected to force on a regular basis so I will not speak for those who already need the gun.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with anarchic communism. I’m a bit of a statist and prefer creeping democratic socialism, myself. Anarchy could be just as inefficient as capitalism. But these are minor intellectual quibbles, debates which I am willing to have. I’m just saying that we are given a situation, and we must see it for what it is and prescribe remedies for improving it short of tearing it all down, thus ruining the good that was already there. Revolutions of all kinds have betrayed their intrinsic ideals all across the globe.
Bernie Sanders and his followers are also a first-class example of how a good movement turned everything into shit. He, perhaps inadvertently, helped the Democratic Party turn on itself. He caused open warfare between his idealists and Clinton’s pragmatists. And without even being a member of the party, he opened the door to the latest iteration of Clinton character assassination. That may not be his fault either. He was respectful and did not go into the mud during the race, except maybe for that time when he implied she wasn’t qualified to be President because of her putative ties to the business community. But his supporters had an appetite for destruction and wanted the whole system to go down. Lefties threw away votes on the Green Party in protest of the two choices (whose differences could not have been starker) that were viable. Those who did not know their right from their left chose Gary Johnson, whose claim to popularity hinged largely on the fact that he was out about smoking weed.
Oh, the system is going down. You who either did nothing or worked to fight Hillary Clinton will get your wish. I can only hope you are one of the people that Trump hurts with his bumptious policies and then perhaps you will learn something. But you probably won’t, since you are invariably white and young. Your privilege will protect you by and large from the Trump administration’s worst killer instincts. You are almost as much of a Me Generation as the boomers.
But anyway, Bernie poisoned the minds of a new generation of activist voters who wanted a “revolution”. Many said if Bernie doesn’t get the nod, then neither does Clinton. We have a zero-sum electoral system. That pretty much means a vote for anyone but Clinton was a vote for Trump. And some Bernie supporters were good with that. They hoped that once elected, Trump would mess up things up so badly that people will be dying for a game-changing choice like democratic socialism.
Not even Bernie Sanders believed this. When he lost, he told you to vote Clinton in the general because the alternative was bedlam. But you even stopped hearing him, and chose to play with your boogers instead.
It is and was a calculation based on a fantasy. Oh, Trump will mess up badly. But his voters don’t know that because anything that criticizes Duh Fuhrer is fake news. We still have to get out and vote as one movement. Peeling back the layers of corruption may take a long time, because Republicans are either complicit in it or don’t want to ruin the brand by having people find out that the party helped a Russian stooge come to power.
The Democratic Party is the only party with the means and the ideas needed to unfuck the country. They are already in the system resisting Donald Trump and his threats to tear the country apart. If you all get your head out of your asses, we can take this Congress back, or at least make the margins by which Republicans control the House slimmer, slim enough to make Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus a little nervous. Democrats evolve. Republicans stay the same. That’s why one is called conservative and the other progressive (or liberal if you must quibble).
So you’ll excuse me if I tell you to fuck yourself if you think that starting a new left-wing party is going to work. We already cleaved the left during the 2016 primary and it is in no small part because of Bernie Sanders and his devotees. Now you want to split the left even further?
That’s called A Great Way To Re-Elect Donald Trump.
Like, I totally understand where he’s coming from. But he’s tall on sociology and short on political science. Furthermore, he makes assertions without explaining them. What to do with this?
As the first 100 days of the plutocratic and militaristic Trump administration draw to a close, one truth has been crystal clear: the Democratic party lacks the vision, discipline and leadership to guide progressives in these turbulent times.
And he just leaves that there. No exhaustive list or list of any kind cataloguing Democratic failure. To me, Democrats have been rather busy doing what they can as the minority party. There is literally only so much they can do. They do not chair a single committee in Congress. They can’t. The ranking member does not have the authority to override chairpersons, but they’ve been raising as much Cain as they can. Adam Schiff comes to mind, as does Elijah Cummings. Were it not for those gentlemen, Devin Nunes and Jason Chaffetz would have had a much easier time playing stupid about Trump and Russia. Kirsten Gillibrand is consistently resisting. Jeff Merkeley held a talking filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, and the party almost unanimously stood together to deny Republicans a supermajority on his nomination, forcing Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules to complete his betrayal of the process of advice and consent. Chuck Schumer called Trump’s bluff of threatening Obamacare dollars if they did not help fund his stupid and increasingly pointless border wall.
A goddamned Muslim is the vice chair of the national committee.
Those are just a few things off the top of my head that have made me proud to be a Democrat. Yet West sees it differently, writing things like
The time has come to bid farewell to a moribund party that lacks imagination, courage and gusto. …
Cornel, I’m sorry you don’t see fireworks every time the Democrats act. Sometimes this politics shit is boring as all get out. But the Democrats have not shown any interest in abetting Trumpward Babyhands at all, far from it-they seem to be in active resistance from where I’m sitting. Surely something short of burn motherfucker burn will do the trick.
In the not so recent past, the party has failed. There’s no denying that. Bill Clinton’s presidency was something of a failure in terms of what should be expected of a true party of the people. If you really want to be a stickler, Barack Obama’s drone warfare and his allowance of the the health insurance scam to continue to survive could be construed as negatives. I won’t argue too much if you put these in the L column. But, much as it bothers me to admit, Donald Trump has galvanized the party. It’s already the party we want it to be if we would just tell them how we feel, the way so many of us have told Republicans lately- and they don’t listen.
So let’s put a cork in this kind of talk:
The corporate wing has made it clear that the populist wing has little power or place in its future. The discipline of the party is strong on self-preservation and weak on embracing new voices. And party leaders too often revel in self-righteousness and self-pity rather than self-criticism and self-enhancement.
That all sounds good if I was in a rap battle, not in a fight for the soul of my country. Besides, it just isn’t true. The “corporate” wing is not mutually excluded from the “populist” wing anyway. David Lowery of the fantastic band Camper Van Beethoven said it quite well in a song from their 2014 album “Berkeley To Bakersfield”: It’s not that we don’t like the rich, it’s simply that we think this kind is boring. It is not a crime to be rich. It’s the way you do it that makes you shitty. Then this:
And if a class-conscious multi-racial party attuned to anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-militaristic issues and grounded in ecological commitments can reconfigure our citizenship, maybe our decaying democracy has a chance.
If you didn’t get a degree in sociology, that there above probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you. Then again, I could be selling you short. Let’s take that piece by piece. I will concede to Cornel a point that sticks in my craw too: we fucking suck at class consciousness. That’s because we as Americans all think we are in the middle class. Every politician left and right always goes on and and on about the middle class. No one seems to give a rat’s patoot about the working class because we consistently improperly identify ourselves class-wise regardless of our income. Being poor in a capitalist society is the ultimate sin, and we have internalized this prejudice well. It’s still our own damn fault when we wind up in dire straits and that’s unfair to so many people who have found themselves in places that lack hope. So yes, we don’t talk enough about this struggle. Even Bernie Sanders failed to do so.
But Cornel seems to have a blind spot when he talks about the need for a party that understands multi-racialism and anti-sexism. Does he not know who was just president? Who the Democratic nominee was? Yeah, I get that it doesn’t mean that racism and sexism is over. But I’m trying to say that Democrats are moving in the right direction.
And it was our Democratic president who did this after the Supreme Court said love is love:
Obama did the best that could have been expected of him so far as the “militaristic” jab goes. It’s a militarized world. We are in a crazy competition for finite resources and that is the reason why we protect some really awful regimes from Saudi Arabia to Israel. We did our level best to make Iraq Iraq’s problem, even though as someone who went there to ostensibly liberate it I feel we still owe them for shredding and putting giant holes in what they still had. We have a very adventurous Russia back on the Risk board. This is no time to be a shrinking violet or to sickeningly veer into paranoid nationalism a la Trump. I would not characterize myself as an imperialist, but perhaps I am too conceited to admit otherwise. All I can say is without us running the show in large part, without us playing the great game, it all goes to shit in insane ways that make even less sense than today’s current chaos. There has got to be a way to ratchet down tension. There’s a magic word called diplomacy, and I think we really gave it a go during Obama. The Iran agreement will be talked about in the history books, provided retards like Tom Cotton of Arabia don’t get to willy-nilly tear shit up.
And I think he did right by ratifying Paris. I ain’t good on the specifics, but it looks like we were ready to stop committing quick suicide by poisoning the planet with the way we keep carrying on.
We can do better on all of this. And I think we will. I think it’s what we all want.
All of this is a long fucking way of saying that the wheel has been invented. I am not even a fraction of the thinker that Cornel West is, but I threw a few more words at my polemic in favor of the Democratic party than he did against it. That’s not to say that word count determines what is good and what isn’t…far from it. But I expect more from him as an intellectual. I expect more than something as facile as throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I certainly expect that he knows better than to continue the Republican darkness by rending the fragile left/center solidarity that the Democratic party works its ass off to cultivate.
Cornel West would have you believe we have learned nothing from the election of a fucking nincompoop malcontent who might be stupid enough to blow up the world if it plays well in the press.
Sorry, but I ain’t buying it. This was not an easy post to write because I would much rather use the invective I have to fight the wrong-wing. But we need to tighten our shit up and realize we already have the vehicle, and we just need to learn how to steer it to get the best mileage we fucking can out of it.
Whatever your flavor of Democrat is, you can find something to like in their policies. They are leagues ahead of Republican initiatives in their sophistication. You can say with confidence that there will be a Democratic president in 2016. You know it, I know it, they know it.
The GOP, though, may have the last laugh because we are horribly outnumbered in Congress. If we don’t sweep the creeps from the seats, nothing any Democrat wants to do will pass. We will have a repeat of the Obama presidency where Republicans say a collective NO to every proposal. Unless by some miracle we regain the majority in both houses, we are basically fucked. So it’s more important than ever to vote our asses off to get a proactive government again that does monumental things like Obamacare.
Will the silent majority finally take the side of the angels?