SYNDICATED COLUMN: Why Won’t Democrats Kick Trump While He’s Down?

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Trump is failing bigly. Why aren’t Democrats taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to rebuild their party?

Barely four weeks in office and the president has his first scandal. Flynngate has everything a president doesn’t want: a top national security official accused of treasonishness, messy investigations afoot, reinvigorated enemy journalists smelling blood.

At first glance, losing a Labor Secretary nominee might not seem to matter. All the other cabinet picks got through; Labor isn’t State. Still, Andrew Puzder’s withdrawal reveals staggering incompetence. Trump’s #1 issue was illegal immigration. Puzder hired an illegal immigrant; dude was a billionaire too cheap to pay her taxes. Seriously?

Trump’s first major policy move, the Muslim travel ban, ended in tears — within hours. So-called judges and their stupid “Constitution”!

Political journalists have a technical term for a cluster–k like this at such an early date in an Administration: a s–tshow.

So where are the Democrats?

The only thing more baffling than the Great Republican Unraveling is the failure of the Democrats to rise to the occasion exploit the situation. Yeah, conventional wisdom says to stand aside when your opponent is making a fool of himself. Right now, however, the Democrats’ failure to articulate an alternative vision — becoming a “party of outrage” doesn’t count — seems less like jujitsu than political malpractice.

He’s retired and deserves some rest after all those late-night droning sessions, but the Dems’ colossal cluelessness is epitomized by that video of Recently Former President Barack Obama kitesurfing — a sport most voters never heard of before — with Virgin mogul Richard Branson.

Given his fanatic dedication to detachedness, Obama as exiled leader of the anti-Trump resistance is probably too much to ask. Still, as John Oliver observed, “Just tone it down with the kitesurfing pictures.”

He continued: “America is on fire. I know that people accused him of being out of touch with the American people during his presidency. I’m not sure he’s ever been more out of touch than he is right now…You’re fiddling while Rome burns!”

Trumpism is collapsing with impressive rapidity. In a two-party system, citizens expect the party out of power to step up, say I-told-you-so, and explain how and why they can fix this s–tshow. So far? Nothing.

The cavalry isn’t merely not coming. It’s asleep.

It’s easy to see why. The Democratic Party still suffers from the division that cost it the 2016 election. All the party’s energy is with the progressive base who backed Bernie Sanders (henceforth, the Guy Who Would Have Won Had the DNC Not Cheated), now gathered around the awkward, oddly colorless Elizabeth Warren. But its leadership caste is still dominated by the Dems’ fading corporatist DLC-Third Way hacks who installed Hillary as nominee. What was needed in 2016 to defeat Trump is still needed to defeat him in 2017: Sanders or someone like him. But the ruling Clintonistas won’t give up centrism unless it’s pulled out of their cold, ideologically dead hands.

The refusal of the Democrats to pogo-dance on Trump’s grave is one of the biggest missed opportunities in recent political history. For example:

He who sees first, and says so, wins. Remember, Trump anticipated Rust Belt rage over NAFTA. Clinton didn’t. Now to 2017 or perhaps 2018: Trump will probably face a forced exit sooner rather than later. Pushing for Trump’s impeachment now would position Democrats as forward-looking thinkers who had it right before anyone else. Moral authority matters.

Oh, and if you don’t do it, the Republicans will steal the moral high ground by doing it themselves. Ryan 2020!

Co-opt the nascent left-wing Tea Party movement. Sanders-Warrenites are flooding Republican town hall meetings the way the O.G. Tea Party of the right did eight years ago to Democrats. Hey, DNC: those kickass activists can freelance, perhaps setting the stage for a left-right split of the party. That is, unless you do what the GOP when they faced their version of a populist insurrection. Let them inside. Let them lead.

Republicans let their Tea Party take over the party; now the party controls the government. Democrats should do the same.

Remember Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” for a “Republican Revolution”? Lay out a “Democratic Revolution” platform that explains to Americans what you stand for. Right now, most voters know that Democrats don’t like Trump, but not what Democrats are for. But remember Hillary’s lame $12/hour minimum wage, at a time when big cities already had $15? Don’t bother unless those platform planks go big. You might not get the $25/hour you ask for — but you’ll get people talking and thinking. Right now, the only thing anyone’s talking and thinking about is the orange monster in the White House.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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16 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Why Won’t Democrats Kick Trump While He’s Down?

  1. The centrist technocrat neoliberals — the Wall Street-Ivy League power structure — blanch with fear at the thought of true progressive populism. As long as they get the proletariat to be more concerned with social liberalism and terminology (“choice,” not abortion; “African-Americans,” not blacks) than to focus on economic issues and the widening wealth gap, the elite will continue to boost profits and power. The Republicans aren’t the only ones who create phony enemies to mask those that truly exist.

  2. I am reminded of all the other times that I thought that certain political personages — Dems and Republicans — would get run out of town on a rail. And they almost never were.

    My suspicion is that Trump is not going to collapse. Far from it. I think the people who want to defund PBS and slash the National Endowment for the Arts and all the rest of those social programs because all that’s wrong with this country is that statues show women’s titties and if we could get rid of the swear words, Christ would come down from Heaven, are going to prop Trump up all the way.

  3. The travel ban was no mistake. The President lured the traitorous judges as well as other domestic enemies into the open. He also learned about half the country supports common sense travel restrictions. He’s likely been contemplating how exactly he will excise these partisan judges who have usurped the powers of the executive and legislature for decades. At least I hope so. Nothing productive will be accomplished with them gumming up the works. I don’t even want to think of all the policies they’ve shoved down the throats of middle America.

    As for the rest, I don’t know who thought there would not be any casualties of the Trump administration. And if anyone is digging their grave, it’s the media.

  4. The Democrats want Trump to do more horrible things so they can look good in comparison, and also to punish anyone who ever doubted they are the good guys.

    This way they can do nothing, can be as bad as they want to be, and still pose as the best friend of the people.

    It’s “good cop, bad cop” played out on the national stage by the parties.

    • «This way they can do nothing, can be as bad as they want to be, and still pose as the best friend of the people.

      It’s “good cop, bad cop” played out on the national stage by the parties.»

      I think Glenn has nailed it here – the differences between the US Democrats – by «Democrats» here, I refer to the DNC loyalists – and their Republican counterparts are very small. Neither of them want to see, for example, a lessening of that unremitting hostility towards Russia, even were it to be replaced by an equally implacable hostility toward China ; without the Russian spectre, the Europeans cannot be kept in line and the US vassals currently in government there risk being thrown out. If Mr Trump doesn’t play by the rules of the game, he will be removed and replaced by Michael Richard Pence, while the so-called «liberal media»breathes a sigh of relief….

      (This is not to deny that Mr Trump’s administration is filled with figures from a horror sideshow – Edward Scott Pruitt as head of EPA, Elisabeth Dee DeVos as Secretary of Education, etc, etc, ad nauseam) – but I suspect it would prove difficult to run a campaign on opposition to these figures….)

      Henri

  5. I keep reading that Sanders would have been another McGovern, losing to the Republican (whomever they picked) in almost every state, if not every state. This is a hard fact for every Clintonbot. They agree the Democrats desperately need people like Bill and Hillary. Like Blair, the only Labour leader who could possibly win an election and who needs to come back (or his protégé), the Clintons and Obamas are the only Democrats that could possibly win..

    ‘But polls?’ The Democratic leadership don’t believe polls. The idiot polls said Hillary was a sure win, so the polls were wrong. Hillary was far and away the best candidate, and if Russia and Comey (and Mr Rall) hadn’t hacked the election, she’d have been elected by a 50% margin (just ask them).

    So the Democratic Leadership goals for the next four years: 1) moan; 2) have the Clintons and Obamas convince the voters to give the Congress back to the Clinton-Obama Democrats in ’18; 3) put up a Clinton or Obama in ’20.

    • Has anyone else tried this? Talk to some HRC supporters and talk to some Bernie supporters. I mean really talk. I’ve tried this repeatedly, and I come away with the same conclusion every single time: the Bernie people are just a little smarter, just a little more centered. I also notice a particular speech pattern for both:
      Bernie supporter: I agree with Sanders about healthcare. Sanders’ tuition position makes sense to me.
      HRC supporter: Hillary says that Obamacare is the best solution. Hillary can get it done.
      There seems to be a more coherent signal coming off of the Sanders people.

      • Thank you. I was rooting for Bernie even before he announced his candidacy. I remain convinced that he should have:
        1) run as an Independent, or
        2) stayed in the running at the DNC, or
        3) joined the Green Party at the head of the ticket.

        All moot at this point.

        🙁

      • I don’t agree that it’s moot. It will, I suspect, be vitally important in the 2020 elections.

        The parties cannot, by definition, support the wants and needs of the electorate because the party leaders (on both sides) are owned by business groups. (I’m doing this briefly, I will not isolate, explain, defend every single detail.)

        The Democrats will split in 2020, quite possibly in 2018. There will be the HRC side, which still doesn’t “get” that their “heroine” was never really on their side to begin with. There will also be the Bernie Sanders side, the people who simply will not vote for a party like what the Dems have become.
        A similar fracture will occur in the Republican Party, unless Donald Trump manages to come through on some things. (If he does, he’ll get re-elected.)
        So it’ll be either a three-way race (with the Dems split) or a four-way race, with the Dems split and the Republicans split between a core of Trump supporters and the RNC-approved replacement.
        If the Sanders People get organized in time for 2018, they could, ABSOLUTELY, choose the next president two years before the election.

      • @ alex_the_tired –

        I don’t disagree with your predictions, but my point was that the three choices I listed are all now moot, since any one of them could conceivably have led to a Sanders White House. Many, if not most, of his supporters felt betrayed and lumped him in with the others, who really aren’t interested in the rights and welfare of the People. Those who felt betrayed chose not to vote at all.

  6. The GOP is already split at least two ways – Trumkopf might inspire a third split once the Religious Rong figures out that he doesn’t represent their so-called values.

    So a real split in the dems would mean a FIVE PARTY system. Another win for America, brought about by Hair Furor mit dem kleinen Schwanzstucker!

    • «So a real split in the dems would mean a FIVE PARTY system. Another win for America, brought about by Hair Furor mit dem kleinen Schwanzstucker!» Agree that a five-party system, rather than the current duopoly, would be a win for the United States, CrazyH, but in the absence of a proportional voting system or something on that order (the US Greens had a good suggestion, i e, instant runoff voting for executive positions, proportional representation for legislative ones, if I recall correctly), such systems tend to coalesce into a two-party system, as the UK example would indicate. Still, it would be interesting to see the result of such an experiment – it’s unlikely that things could get worse….

      Henri

      • Multi-voting is another option that tends to produce better results.

        Still and all, I think it’s human nature to “coalesce into a two-party system.” It’s easy to think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and so anyone who ain’t us must be ‘them.’

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