Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads
Wednesday, December 04, 2019
No time for Political Nostalgia
The GOP won’t vote for impeachment ever, but I’m glad the Democrats have decided to expand it – cause the more infuriatingly corrupt we find Trump to be, the better for the Democrats – obviously. But it is time to see a bit into the future. If, as I expect, the Democrats elect a president next Nov., Trump is not going away. He is going to sit on Fox news and punish any republican who dares cooperate in any way with the Democratic president. I think, frankly, this is what Obama should have done to Trump, but Obama. has never really understood that underneath the racist posturing of the Republican politicians, they really are racist, sexist, and contemptuous of democracy. They are not the friendly debater Republicans he met at Harvard. Anyway, forget cooperation. It will be political warfare. So the Democratic president will have to be in campaign mode for at least the first two years of the presidency – by which I mean leveraging legislative loss into campaign issues to blow up Republican incumbents. Otherwise, it will just be a farce, and Democratic voters won’t turn out in the midterms, etc. In other words, don’t replay Obama’s disastrous bi-partisan longing from 2009-2011.
My instincts about loss and win are, I know, based on my partisanship, my idea of what would be good to do in the face of all the forces with which we will soon have to reckon in earnest – from climate change to the deathgrip of the Davos crowd on our societies. I like to think that if the common people knew their own self interest, they would vote my way. But this is an awful egotistical presumption, and not a good one to go from in judging the mass phenomena of voting. On the other hand, it is not egotistical at all to observe that voters are moving towards a new paradigm everywhere, as the old Cold War/neoliberal order splits up. And in this new paradigm, the left – even the lukewarm liberal – must throw out all the old bipartisan, unifying concepts that allowed for the postwar deal, in effect welding civil rights gains to a politics that mostly surrendered to Capital in its current form, the corporation. In neolib thinking, NAFTA and gay marriage are somehow bound up with each other, so that if you are for one, you are for the other. This arbitrary synthesis has been shattered in the popular consciousness, though not among the upper class, as reflected in the major media.
There’s a story put out by moderate Democrats of the Joe Biden/Pete Buttigieg type that we have to “talk to each other”, reach across the aisle, etc. This feel-good vibe is based more on nostalgia than anything else. Whether moderate or liberal, the Democratic president, from her first day in office, will face a figure who has long ago trashed the ethos of compromise for the art of the dirty deal. Unless Trump dies, no Republican politician will be able to escape his power in the party, and he will blatantly exercise that power. The old days are dead and gone. The last president who refused to go away was Teddy Roosevelt. He briefly split the system, but the Republican party recovered. This time, I don’t think things will be so simple.
The idea that the Democrats can find a way of governing with the Republicans is as dead as NATO. Only the Republicans get what they want under the current system. Vicious and continuing partisanship is being thrust upon the Democrats, under a leadership that hates it. I think that the Democrats should take a look around them, at, for instance, the Socialist Party in France, and realize something: they can easily dissolve after a presidential victory. Governance has to give precedence to partisanship before governance can actually happen, in the current circs.