SYNDICATED COLUMN: 5 Things Democrats Could Do To Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)

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Coupla weeks ago, I speculated that we may soon witness the end of the Democratic Party as we know it. I was kind. I didn’t mention the fact that the party is all out of national leaders. I mean, can you name a likely, viable Democratic candidate for president in 2020? Can you name three?

I followed up with more crystal-balling in a piece predicting that the meek will not inherit the earth if and when Trump gets dragged out of 1600 Penn by Senatorial impeachment police. The meek — the Democrats — could have/should have been the Anti-Trump Party. But they’ve dropped the ball. After the deluge, Paul Ryan.

With everyone so focused on the Trump Administration dead pool — how will he go? when? — we’re overlooking that Republicans could come out of the Trump debacle stronger than they went in. How crazy is that?

Now I want to look at another facet of this political Rubik’s cube: what the Democrats could do to avoid political irrelevance.

explainersmall            Not that they will.

  1. Democrats should stop calling themselves “The Resistance.” It’s an insult to the actual resistance fighters of World War II who were tortured and murdered. It’s also an attack on Strunk and White’s diktat not to stretch words beyond their plain meaning. Resistance to Republicans hasn’t been part of Democratic politics for generations. Quit the hype. Under-promise, over-deliver.
  2. Democrats should actually resist Trump and the Republicans. They shouldn’t have gone along with any of his nominees, but their promise to filibuster pencil-necked right-wing libertarian freak Neil Gorsuch would be a nice place to start. No Democrat, including those from purple/swing states, should vote for any GOP nominee or legislative initiative. Let’s not hear any more stupid talk of finding “common ground” with Trump on infrastructure spending or anything else. The GOP controls all three branches of the federal government so they’ll get whatever they want — and they should own whatever happens as a result. Democrats shouldn’t get their hands dirty.
  3. Democrats ought to articulate an alternative vision of what America would look like if they were in charge instead of Trump and the Republicans. It’s nice (not least for the 24 million people who would’ve wound up uninsured) that the repeal and replacement of Obamacare imploded. But that victory goes to rebellious Republicans, not Democrats. Here was a national debate over the ACA — Obama’s signature achievement — and Democrats didn’t even participate! How crazy is that? Never mind that they wouldn’t have gotten a vote on it — Democrats should have proposed their own bill reforming the ACA, one that moves left by adding single payer. Every Republican idea should be countered by an equal and opposite Democratic idea. Other countries call this act of self-definition shadow governance or, in a time of war perhaps loyal opposition. Whatever you call it, refusing to let your adversaries frame the acceptable ideological range of political debate is basic. In other words, a standard party-out-of-power tactic (e.g., the Tea Party 2009-2016).
  4. Democrats need to stop disappearing between elections. Campaigns are exhausting and it’s natural to want to catch one’s breath and conduct a postmortem to determine what went well and wrong. But it’s gotten to the point that the only time left-of-center voters hear from the Democratic Party is the year of a major election, for the most part only a few months before November and then only to ask for money. In the era of the 24-7 news cycle and the Internet, that hoary see-you-in-two-to-four-years approach is as outmoded as Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s cut-and-paste stump speeches and network TV shows that take summers off for something called “vacation.” A modern party should become part of our everyday lives. Every burg needs a Democratic Party storefront bustling with activity. Every Republican officeholder needs a ferocious Democratic challenger, even at the localest of local levels. Door-to-door campaigning and grassroots organizing should happen every day of every month of every year — in every state, regardless of presidential race electoral vote considerations, just like Howard Dean said.
  5. Bernie Sanders says Democrats can and should do class issues and identity politics. He’s right. As we’ve seen with the increased acceptance of LGBTQ people in recent years, the two are intertwined: gays’ incomes have risen But here’s the rub: you can’t really take on poverty and income disparity while accepting contributions from banks and other corporations whose interest lies in perpetuating economic misery by keeping wages low. The biggest lesson Dems should internalize from Bernie’s candidacy is his reliance on small individual donations.

(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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17 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: 5 Things Democrats Could Do To Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)

  1. «The biggest lesson Dems should internalize from Bernie’s candidacy is his reliance on small individual donations.» While that is, indeed, an important lesson, Ted, it is not the big takeaway from the campaigns leading up to the US presidential election of 2016. The main lesson – the one that has to be learned – is that of all those competing for the nomination of one of the two so-called «major parties», only two persons, Donald John Trump and Bernard Sanders, respectively, really grasped the pain that large swathes of the population of the United States were feeling. The former, a buffoon and con man, used this insight to bamboozle and swindle his supporters ; the latter, whose career indicates him to be a sincere and decent man, was derailed by machinations at the highest level of the Democratic Party, to whom such a person attaining real power was and remains anathema. And so the election of 2016 played out as it did, to the great surprise of the pundits….

    What lesson do you expect such a Party leadership to draw from the events of the last two years – counting from Mr Sanders officially announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination on 26 May 2015 ? They are hardly, as you point out, maquisards

    Henri

    • > Donald John Trump and Bernard Sanders, respectively, really grasped the pain that large swathes of the population of the United States were feeling.

      I can’t claim to be telepathic, but I sincerely doubt that Komrade Trumpski grasped that pain. What he *did* grasp was that *pretending* he did would get him votes.

      As you said, he’s a con man – his feelings about the little guy parallel a carnie’s feelings towards marks. Marks aren’t really people, they exist solely to provide money to the people who actually do matter.

      Our Commander in Tweet only cares about one person on this planet.

      • The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.

        – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

      • «I can’t claim to be telepathic, but I sincerely doubt that Komrade Trumpski grasped that pain. What he *did* grasp was that *pretending* he did would get him votes.» I submit, CrazyH, that like Mr Sanders, Mr Trump did indeed grasp the pain ; i e, was aware that large swathes of the US population were feeling pain. The difference between the two, judging from their records and their actions, was that Mr Sanders empathised with those feeling the pain, while Mr Trump, incapable of empathy, viewed it only as a means to gain political power (and enact measures certain to increase the pain)….

        That being said, this ability to grasp the pain was, I think, something which separated both these two figures from the many others who felt called to seek the nomination as US presidential candidate of one of the so-called «major parties.»….

        What a pity that in the end – due to machinations at the highest levels of the Democratic Party (which it would take quite some contortions to lay at the door of those dastardly Russians) – the election was not contested between these two figures, but rather between Mr Trump and Ms Clinton, which latter didn’t really seem to understand what was moving in the depths. It seems, alas, unlikely that we shall soon be given the opportunity to observe in real life so signal a battle between real empathy and the fake version as a Sanders-Trump contest would have provided us….

        Wonder who would have won ?…

        Henri

      • Hey, Henri – oh heck yeah, I know I’m splitting hairs here (a sin of which we are both guilty)

        You, personally, realize that Komrade Trumpski is a sociopath. Moreover, as a psychiatrist you realize that he is pathologically incapable of empathy.

        So my comment is more for those idjits who believe that he still gives a crap about them now that the votes have been tallied.

      • “So my comment is more for those idjits who believe that he still gives a crap about them now that the votes have been tallied.”
        *
        I can’t find those folks on Facebook anymore. You know, the ones who beat the drums for Trump. The seem to have disappeared like cockroaches when the lights come on. (?) 😀

      • derlehrer – I call it the ‘Nixon Effect’ – he won in ’72 by a far larger margin than Komerade Trumpski. But a year or so later you couldn’t find anyone who would admit to having voted for him.

      • @ CrazyH –

        Ah, yes — the Nixon years. “Love it or leave it.” I left with my family for Germany (wishing I were still there). Wife & I sat up in bed that night, drinking champagne, listening to Nixon’s resignation. I still have that on cassette tape somewhere.

        Returned to the U.S. after Carter was elected. Having feelings of “deja vu” now — but much more intense. Fortunately, I don’t have to leave; I’ve been in Mexico for over 10 years and am now a permanent resident. 🙂

  2. Hey Ted, The GOP are their own worst enemy. At least when the Dems had control they came together and made a new law (ACA). All the Repubs can do is argue among themselves. Honestly, does anyone think they will be able to accomplish anything in 4 years that isn’t a Trump dictate?
    Have you read Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America? Any comments?

  3. Yes, the Dems have to give us reasons to vote for them, not just because that other party is so atrocious. I do want to know about Russian involvement in the election, however, I don’t want that to be the only thing the Dems are fighting for.

    • Dr Lehrer,

      My brother was at Brown with Amy. Suffice it to say she has no shot at going anywhere in politics, for reasons I won’t go into here.

      • But really, my dear professor, one shouldn’t kiss and tel !. Besides, since US politics seems to be about so-called «dynasties», Ms Carter’s only present competition seems to be Chelsea Victoria Mezvinsky, née Clinton, so the path seems open…. 😉

        Henri

      • @ mhenriday –

        Omniscience is a remarkable trait. That’s why I chose not to respond to “suetonius17”!

        😀

  4. Let’s not forget. The Republican Party was on the verge of collapsing. But HRC had to run. Because. She. Could. Get. It. Done. The one person so universally hated by the Republicans ran, and the entire party reconstituted itself solely for the purpose of opposing her.

    Who have the Dems got now? No one. Why? Because the undead zombieforce that runs the DNC will put up Chelsea Clinton in 2020 (right after she starts taking speech money from Wall Street–she has experience as a board member at Expedia). Why run if you’re going to face a machine that only rewards those politicians who stay bought?

  5. Ted,

    Here’s the thing, the Democrats can’t be an opposition party. They’re a capitalist party, same as the Republicans. Any differences are minor ones, around the edges. Obamacare? That he got from the Heritage foundation. He didn’t even have any interest in putting a public option in, first thing he dumped. It’s not like Labor in England – they actually used to have something in their platform at least paying lip service to socialism. They nationalized things. They put in the National Health Service. Dumped all that under Blair, but the history is there. Corbyn can be an opposition leader, sort of. No Democrat could possibly be. They all want the same things as the Republicans.

  6. #6. They can just shoot themselves.

    Lousy lying, cheating hypocrites. Accusing Russia of messing with “our democratic values”, like being owned by the oligarchs, cheating, lying and criminal behavior of Clinton(s) and the use of “super-delegates” including corporate lobbyists to cheat the Dem base out of “one person, one vote”. And that super-delegate scam was to prevent a progressive from winning (worked) so that they could win with a republican clone. How’d that work out for you Dems? They can’t go under fast enough for me, Ted.

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