It’s not yet time to throw the Baby out with the Bathwater

There have been so many petitions circulating and letters written since the election of the Donald, and it feels to me right now like our side is pretty much firing at anything that moves. It’s a lot of frenetic energy, but it’s not likely to lead to anything, and I’m afraid we’ll be firing off all our ammunition without actually hitting anything, other than the side of the barn door.

Let’s all calm down a little bit and become a bit more strategic. I myself am slowly moving through the Kübler-Ross stages to acceptance.

But not to silence.

So, for the people who have been petitioning Donald Trump to rescind this appointment of Steve Bannon as his “Chief Strategist,” just know that it’s not going to happen. The Donald prioritizes loyalty above all, and Bannon has been extremely loyal to him. Forgettaboutit.

Or for all the people who have been petitioning the Electoral College not to vote for Donald Trump on December 19 as President of the United States, that’s also not going to happen, even though Trump was precisely the kind of demagogue that the electoral college was designed to protect against. Forgettaboutit.

I am in support of the Million Woman March on January 21st, because I think it’s important for the Donald and his administration to see visually how many women he has already alienated.

But other than that, we have to wait for the Donald to become President and actually do something before we should be protesting what he hasn’t yet done.[1]

Competing Narratives

I’ve been reading two competing narratives about this election, both of which I think have a lot of truth to them.

The first narrative is that the Democratic lost touch with the white working class, and that the Democratic “elites” were perceived as talking down to them. This narrative also makes note of the fact that calling people racist, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynist, and then “shaming” them for it, only serves to further alienate them. Bernie Sanders has mentioned how disappointed he is that our party is no longer connecting with the working class, the milieu from which Bernie comes.

The second narrative, coming primarily from the African American community, is our black friends saying to the progressive white community, “You’re finally discovering how racist White America really is? What took you so long?” (As in, no shit, Sherlock!)

Then there is an additional narrative from the right wing of the political spectrum which presupposes that this election was just like any other election, and that the progressive side is a bunch of whiners who can’t take losing.

I’ve already explained how the election of Trump was an FU “love bouquet” thrown from the right to the left, how it was essentially a contempt-filled kick in the teeth designed to demonstrate to the rest of us how much they resent us and how much they resent our (allegedly) telling them how to lead their lives. We don’t have to go over that again right now.

What about the other two narratives?

It’s true that Democrats have moved away from the white working class to some degree, and have given a lot of attention to Wall Street bankers. Some of that, frankly, is the result of Citizen’s United and the Democrat’s fear that they would be financially outgunned in the political advertising war if they didn’t also find some deep-pocketed big donors who would be willing to help them out. But it’s also true that a large number of working class whites have moved away from the Democratic party through being seduced by the siren song of Fox News and right wing talk radio. These people have been told whom to blame and whom to hate, and we the liberal “elite” – many of us who are far from elite, by the way – are the cause of their frustrations. Not the corporations that have actually moved their jobs to Mexico, or the Philippines or Viet Nam, but we, the liberal elite.[2]

It’s also true that this election has released a firestorm of smoldering resentments, many of them focused on race and immigrants, and that there has been an explosion of hate crimes that is exceedingly disturbing.

Where Now the Democratic Party

A lot of pundits are saying that the Democratic party has to reform and rebuild its roots in the white working class. Some pundits are saying that we don’t even know where to go, and that this is an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats.

To which I say . . . maybe.

For the white working class who have been seduced by Fox News and right wing talk radio, who get their news from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and their opinions from Ann Coulter, it’s much too late. These folks are never coming back to the Democratic party, and I’m not sure we should want them back. On the other hand, for the folks who voted for Trump primarily out of desperation, out of the desire to try something “new,” these are folks that we might be able to get back. We’ll have to wait and see how big a disaster the Trump administration becomes before we’ll know, and there will have to be a lot of pain all around before these people come to their senses.

I also believe that for a lot of Trump’s voters, this will be a “one and done” kind of phenomenon. The voters who never registered before, who never bothered to vote before, who just wanted to come in and throw their support for Trump because they thought he was a “can do” billionaire who was going to kick some establishment ass. These voters will likely never show up in a voting booth again. Trump isn’t going to do anything for them, and they’ll retreat to their previous stance of “a pox on both their houses” and their political indifference.

Demographics, as many people know, will work in our favor eventually. America is scheduled to become a “majority minority” nation – i.e., a nation where “minorities” form a majority of the population – around 2045 or so.[3] That’s still a long time to wait, but eventually the coalition of progressive whites and minority and mixed-ancestry groups is bound to succeed. Just not soon enough.

This election has certainly been hugely dispiriting.[4] It is not the time, however, to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While I agree with Bernie Sanders that we should move the party to the left and reinvigorate our fight for working people, I don’t believe this is the time to move back to the center (where Bill Clinton had positioned us) or to abandon our coalition.[5] Just remember, my friends:

  • This really is likely to be a “one and done” event for disaffected white working class voters who wanted to throw their support behind the brash Donald Trump.
  • Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by over a million and counting.
  • Demographics totally favor our coalition, and eventually that will demonstrate itself when states like Arizona and Texas turn blue.
  • We’re never going to get the Fox News and right wing talk radio partisans back, regardless of what we do.
  • The Republican party has their own problems, as they are hopelessly divided between “Chamber of Commerce” big business types, white working class populists, evangelical Christians and just out-and-out racists. Good luck keeping that coalition together.
  • Donald Trump and the Republican party will now have four years to demonstrate the bankruptcy of their ideas. They own the whole government, so they need to own the whole blame.

Yes, they will cause a lot of damage in the meantime. But I don’t know how you can get from here to there without the damage that they will cause.

 


[1] Appointments, no matter how discouraging they may be, aren’t really “doing anything” yet, until those appointees begin making their decisions.

[2] Many working class and Christian evangelical voters deeply resent that they are losing the “culture wars,” that gay marriage has been normalized, that abortion has been legal for 43 years, that transgendered people should be able to use the bathroom of their choice, and that not everyone believes the United States to be a “Christian” nation.

[3] These are not precise metrics, and some folks have argued over the definition of minority, pointing out that many of these “minorities” will actually be mixed race or mixed ancestry, with one white parent and one parent who is something else.

[4] The other day I heard Kellyanne Conway gloat about how the Democrats were “no longer a national party” because we’ve now lost the House, Senate, Presidency and so many of the State Legislatures. That really is concerning. But just wait Kellyanne. You’ll get yours soon enough.

[5] Bernie Sanders has also pointed out, and I should remind my readers, that we are still the party that is fighting for increasing the minimum wage, for universal health care, for occupational safety and decent working conditions.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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One Response to It’s not yet time to throw the Baby out with the Bathwater

  1. Dems have no choice now. All they can do is chose their battles wisely and obstruct with the same single mindedness the GOP had during Obama’s 8 years. The other thing they must do starting now is build a coalition across party lines to Impeach Trump. He will give them ample reason to do so given his breathtaking ignorance of the Constitution. They need to find a viable candidate for 2024. Clinton-lite and Liz Warren aren’t going to get it.
    Dems no longer have the luxury of 3rd way Clintonesque corporate politics. They’re going to have to run hard in every local election starting with dogcatcher on up to Governor. It’s going to be a long slog of a decade or more to recover from the setbacks of this election.
    Education is also key. I’d suggest re-introducing Civics lessons in Middle school on up. Too many people don’t see it as their responsibility to participate in government for the people BY the people.

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