Breaking News: Trump is still the same guy

The release of the anonymous New York Times op-ed coupled with the publication of Bob Woodward’s new book has reinforced everything we already knew about Trump. That he is a lying amoral idiot who show’s no interest in ever learning even the most basic facts about any issue that is important to the country that he is charge of. What have you truly learned from the anonymous op-ed or the excerpts from Woodward’s book that you didn’t already know. Probably nothing.

Donald Trump has always been the same despicable person and it’s the same person Americans’ got to know when they elected him as President in 2016. America knew who he was when he glided down his golden escalator, announced his candidacy and called Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists. They knew who he was when he declared that a certain judge couldn’t be impartial because his parents were born in Mexico. He is the person who got caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women and he is the same person who mocked a disabled reporter. That is who he has always been and it’s the same man Americans elected by either voting for him, or by deciding that Hillary Clinton wasn’t worth showing up at the polls to vote for.

The media frenzy over the latest sneak-peak of Trump's behavior inside the White House sells a lot of newspapers, but for a lot of Democrats and their pundits in the media, there is still a misguided belief that these reports can get through to Republican voters and convince them that Trump is a despicable man. They have deluded themselves into thinking that this next confirmation of Trumps malevolence and incompetence will finally be the piece of the puzzle that wakes up the Trump supporting Republican base, which is 90% of the party. They hope that this next book will finally be the straw that convinces Republican members of congress to turn against Trump.

This is a delusion and it won't work. Nothing short of a video of Donald Trump racing down Pennsylvania avenue naked will cause the Republican base and it’s congressmen to turn on Trump, but democrats still hold on to this hope that an awakening will occur. As Barack Obama famously liked to say, eventually ‘the fever is going to break’, but what Obama fails to recognize in his fever analogy is that fevers don’t always break. Sometimes the patient dies.

The Democrats cannot get past their obsession of trying to breakthrough to Trump voters because, as a centrist political party, they don’t have any other answers on how to beat Trump and the Republican Party. Moreover, what is frightening about this strategy is it was the central theme of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 losing campaign. Now, we can dismiss Hillary Clinton’s loss to a variety of tertiary factors like foreign interference, James Comey or just plain poor strategy, but what of the other 1,000 seats Democrat incumbents have lost over the last 8 years? You cannot explain away those 1,000 lost elections on Russia or James Comey alone.

The Democratic Party has not represented the interests of working class Americans and they (and us) are now paying a steep price. Gone are the days of the New Deal Democrats. For the last 30 years, it hasn’t mattered which party was in power. Working and middle class Americans have struggled under both Republicans and Democrats. Average Americans, who have become more productive workers, have seen their wages stagnate, benefits disappear, unions destroyed, healthcare cost skyrocket and tuition debt explode. At the same time, Americans are also witnessing the wealth of those at the top echelons of the income ladder explode. While all this has gone on, we’ve watched the Republicans become a radical right-wing party drunk on the kool-Aid of never ending tax cuts and deregulation and, instead of representing the interests of workers and middle class families like the ‘New Deal Democrats’ of the 1930’s, the Democrat Party has moved to the center to represent Wall Street, insurance companies and other big corporate interests.

The Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street. It was President Bill Clinton who deregulated Wall Street and repealed Glass-Steagall. It was 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton who spent her free time getting $225,000 a speech from Goldman Sachs. It was Barack Obama who received more money from Wall Street in his 2008 campaign than any other candidate in history and went on to fill his cabinet with Wall Street bankers.

The Democratic Party has not offered anything of substantiation to anyone except the very few elites who benefit from the status quo for decades. Barack Obama’s nuanced, technocratic and incremental approach to progress was an epic failure. Every Democratic incremental achievement over his 8 years as president has not only been repealed, but it has gone in the opposite direction of progress. Take healthcare for example. The GOP tax bill has repealed the Obamacare mandate and Trump has cut off the cost sharing subsidies to the insurance companies. The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is effectively gone. It might as well have never existed and furthermore, in a couple of months Americans are going to be in an even worse predicament when the GOP cuts Medicare and Medicaid. 

While President Barack Obama’s level headedness may have guided America through a very dangerous recession, any and all of his achievements may have just as well never existed. Although it may never have passed, if President Obama and the Democratic Party had offered a bold progressive idea, such as Medicare For All, the entire country would know that the party supports bold progressive ideas. Instead, we were left with a market-based system with universally dissatisfied consumers who were and still are dealing with skyrocketing premiums and high deductibles. Additionally, the country is still left with 33 million people uninsured, while health insurance companies rake in enormous profits. This is Democratic Party policy. A political party that is going to go to bat for for-profit health insurance companies is not going have continued electoral success.

The Democrats have not stood up to the system that has abandoned workers and middle-class families. Until the 2016 insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, they had not assertively stated that workers are paid too little, that unions are under assault, that healthcare is a right, that college education is a right. That financial institutions need to be held accountable for predatory behavior.
It is time the Democratic Party reconciles with these hard truths. It is not enough anymore to say, "we are better than the Republicans". That hasn't helped.

The Democrat Party has offered almost nothing to poor and middle-class Americans in red states. Democrats don’t just lose to Republicans; they lose to apathy, because a large section of voters see no reason to show up at the booths and they have lost complete interest. Juxtapose the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton who promised to put coal miners out of business with FDR’s address to the nation announcing a second New Deal.

“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.”


Who is the Democratic party welcoming hatred from today? No one. Simply put, the Democratic Party lacks the political language to take on the assault on middle class Americans that is occurring right now. It is time to abandon incremental technocratic centrist policy positions and take up a bold progressive agenda that will unquestionably improve the lives of middle-class Americans. It is time for the rhetoric to match the anger most Americans are feeling at being under constant assault.

This isn’t to say that Democrats under the current leadership definitely can’t win back the house, the senate or the presidency, because even an incompetent Democratic party running a bad campaign on unpopular policies could be enough to beat a party that is so brazenly and disgracefully corrupt, but the Democratic party under this current guise has no real path to lasting electoral success and certainly no path to win the amount of seats necessary to pass real lasting progressive policies that will materially improve American lives. 

The last time Democrats had real lasting policies implemented, such as Medicare, was during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson when Democrats controlled nearly 70% of both houses of congress. The Democrats may have path to win back the presidency and 51% of the seats in congress, but there is no clear path to winning 70% of the seats, which would be absolutely necessary to pass a bold progressive agenda that includes Medicare For All.

No real change can really come from squeaking by and winning 51% of the seats when there is a Republican Party that has been dedicated to obstruction by any means available. This is a Republican Party who refused to work with Obama on the “Grand Bargain” of 2011 just to make him look bad even though Obama promised to cut Social Security, a program that the GOP has vowed to repeal, reform and cut since its inception. One can only imagine the obstruction that would occur if a Democratic leader promised to expand Social Security rather than cut it.

For 5 decades after the passage of the New Deal Democrats dominated both houses of congress, because voters trusted them to represent their interests. That trust has been broken. The only path back to dominate super majorities, and to the change this country needs, is to regain that trust.

Over 100 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 election. 

Democrats need to give voters a positive reason to go out and vote for them.

Comments

  1. What scares me more than anything else, more than the clulessness of Democratic messaging, more than the DLC hegemony over the DNC, more even than the fact that the CIA types seem to be Democrats these days, is the fact that the battle for the Party's soul has degenerated into a shouting match. I actually believe that good-faith debaters outnumber shouters, but compared to the dB level of the screaming sock puppets (accurately enough called "Berniebots" and "Hillarybots") they are a deafeningly silent majority. Whether sock puppets relentlessly hammering either Hillary-faction or Bernie-faction are operated by Russians or non-Russians is of least concern. That people have been recruited to pose as either Hillary or Bernie supporters in some kind of noise generating (signal drowning) campaign is clear enough. My desire is to focus on what the nonomally left factions have in common, which hopefully includes defeat of Donald Trump and more importantly, re-marginalization of alt-right thought. My editorial style avoids terms like "Berniebots" and "Hillarybots" (use above is simply noting the words as words). I also avoid accusations such as "a vote outside the two party system is a vote for the Republicans" (mathematically it's only half a vote, it's like chess, win-lose-draw, 1, 0.5, 0). I avoid characterizing mainstream democrats as shills or using refering to a certain person as "Shillary." I describe my own voting behavior, and my recommended voting behavior, in terms of that "Turn, Turn, Turn" song popularized more then once by I forgot who and who, to wit "to every thing, there is a season." The primary season is the season for fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party. The general election season is the season for defeating Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, by as large a margin as possible.

    One trend I have found unmistakable among left-of-the-Democrats types is adoption of an editorial style that includes the hard-right message discipline of using "Democrat" as an adjective. On a few occasions I've snarkily injected something like "friends don't let friends use Democrat as an adjective" or some other playful and hopefully friendly saying, but the pattern has become so pronounced that I can only conclude that it is consciously adopted message discipline and not grammatical oversight. Assuming that (a very safe assumption?), what is this rather assertive meme campaign trying to assert? Some kind of anti-virtue signaling? Edginess signaling? An "I am not a Democrat" statement? In the above essay I couldn't help but notice a "mixed style" that I've never seen before, "Democrat incumbents have lost...;," "Democrat Party has moved to the center...;,"Democrat Party has offered almost nothing...," but otherwise grammatically normal. I don't know how I feel about it. At least one of the three phrases I quoted that use the usual Fox News phrasing is something that would clearly not be uttered by anyone on the political right, so that's something. Still, my personal message discipline that consists largely of not jumping on either the "H-bot" or "B-bot" bandwagons, has also included (for the same reasons) consistently using "Democrat" only as a noun. I see no compelling reason to change. I'm not here to be some kind of language police, only to make note of something I noticed. For all I know, maybe your way is better strategy, perhaps it encourages the reader/listener to imagine themselves as a frustrated middle class identified worker angered that yet again some Democrat [sic] politician has sold out in some way that moves the labor market needle even further from permanent full time jobs as a social norm. I don't know. All in all, I like your writing. You have an appropriate set of what's important and make a compelling case.

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    1. Hi Lorraine, I agree with a lot of your sentiments, including your critique on my usage of "Democrat". I will concede that it is an over-generalization and maybe I should be a bit more specific and careful in who I think is responsible for the short comings of the modern Democratic Party. That being said, the negative undertone of the word "Democrat" or "Democratic" on the left is not due to a bunch of people getting together and deciding this is the path we are going to take. I would argue that this sentimentality, which we have seen more and more, is a reflection and response of disaffected Democrats, such as myself, who have witnessed over the last 3 to 4 decades a Democratic party surrender the values of New Deal Democrats in favor of a new type of Bill Clinton pro-business Democrat which has left working- and middle-class people completely unrepresented in government. There is a deep disappointment in those of us who expect the overall direction of the Democratic Party to be different than it what has been since the 1980's.
      Thanks for your comments.

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