I’ll Take the Stooge

Mainstream Democrats want progressives still angry about what the DNC did to Bernie Sanders to join their “Resistance” to Donald Trump. While progressives agree that Trump is loathsome, many hesitate to join in until the party makes moves to show that it has learned the lesson of the 2016 election, that they ignored the left-wing base of their party at their peril.

32 thoughts on “I’ll Take the Stooge

  1. To simplify a lot: there are 3 voting blocks in the U.S. currently split roughly evenly between “Republican”, “Democrats”, and checked out and/or uncommitted to the duopoly/establishment.

    It is not too much of a stretch to expect a Bernie Sanders type candidate to carry about half of the Democratic block enthusiastically, with most of the other half going along, if grudgingly – “what do you wanna do, vote Republican?” ;-). The winning card would be to get a lot of the checked out/uncommitted population into the voting booth (and have their votes actually count). This should give a comfortable majority. The ceiling of such a soft revolution would actually be to activate most of the passive third, and even peel off poor Republican voters, resulting in an FDR like decades-long hegemony.

    The aptly named “stooge” Democrats have nothing on this, of course, but they admittedly may still be able to somehow hold on to the Democratic block, and have the Sandernistas grudgingly go along as before (“What do you want to do, vote Republican?”). They could then conceivable eke out a small majority through “identity politics” however demobilizing and even fueling of a backlash this formula has proven to be. They will argue that demographics work in their favor (though of course Sanders vs. Clinton has shown demographics to be radically in favor of left-wing democrats, interesting times).

    From an actually democratic perspective, there clearly need to be three parties (as Ted argued in previous column) to represent all the more popular concerns. However, similar to France, voters in the U.S. might actually prefer a candidate who positions themselves as a reasonable centrist (“Stooge who is neither Trump nor Clinton 2020″/Macron), over the far right (Trump/LePen) and what the media tell them is the far left (Sanders/Melanchon). Therefore, the 2 party system raises the stakes in that the Sanders current within the Democratic block will either be completely contained or suddenly find itself in full possession of the reins to the state apparatus, neither of which would happen in an actual representative system.

  2. «Better a stooge than …» Here a commentary on the dilemma posed by Ted above, from a Franco-Greek perspective. I can’t say that I agree with Dr Varoufakis – M Macron turns my stomach in much the same manner that, e g, Ms Clinton does those of progressives in the United States – but on the other hand….

    Why do «our» political systems time and time again present us with a choice between the Evil of two Lessers ? Why can’t voters in the United States choose between a Bernard Sanders and a Donald John Trump, or voters in France between a Jean-Luc Melanchon and a Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen ? Is this failure inherent in what we call «democracy», or merely a reflection of the fact that that term is used to conceal a real plutocracy ?…


    • > Is this failure inherent in what we call «democracy»,

      I very much fear that it is so. For democracy to work, people have to be informed and engaged. Moreover, they have to think in terms of the big picture and the long view, rather than their own immediate fears and desires.

      I don’t know very many people who think that way in their personal lives, let alone applying the same to the world around them.

      Marx held that the natural evolution of government is from democracy to socialism. I suspect he was an optimist. More likely that the democracy gets hijacked by people with their own agendas.

      Oh! Look! We’ve got an orange con man for president!

      • «Oh! Look! We’ve got an orange con man for president!» Indeed. And if «you» had voted somewhat differently, then you – and we in the rest of the world as well, as «your» president, exerts an outsize influence on our lives as well – would have had Ms Clinton as president. Hobson’s choice, as in both cases, whether the US president dyes orange or dyes blonde, it seems to be the same old deep state which calls the shots. (This is not to suggest that there are no differences between a Trump administration, on the one hand, and a not-to-be Clinton 2.0 administration, on the other – there most certainly are – but where the deep state is unified on a policy, e g, unremitting hostility towards a Russa that doesn’t accept US hegemony, then that policy prevails, no matter what was said in the election campaign. The evidence of Mr Trump’s first 100 days as US president seems to me conclusive in this regard….)

        Antonio Gramsci is famously quoted as saying ​«Sono pessimista con l’intelligenza, ma ottimista per la volontà». Nearly 90 years on, I can’t but wonder if Signor Gramsci would not, like your humble interlocutor, have become a pessimist in both these respects…..


      • @henri –

        I’m sorry, you lost me. Are you seriously suggesting that there is some sort of “world” outside of the USA?!

        Surely doth thou jesteth.

      • I’d suggest democracy is a governmental system but socialism a economic one. Marx thought economic systems influenced, if not outright determined, the governmental ones.

        The great hoax is that the inherently, fiercely and proudly elitist capitalism can support democracy.

        China proves that capitalism does not need, protect nor guarantee democracy.
        Of course, so do the smoldering ashes of the great American experiment of “capitalist democracy.”

        Socialism is the economic system that gives the power to collect, assign and distribute profit from economic activity to the workers who make the products whose sale (are intended to) make the profits.

        This is actual*** democracy, that the “vast majority” of us frogs in the soon to be boiling capitalist pot, have been chronically and meticulously propagandized to mortally fear.

        *** That is, eight hours a day, five-days-a-week, (?) weeks a year – democracy. This opposed to casting a vote about once every two years “democracy.”

      • «The great hoax is that the inherently, fiercely and proudly elitist capitalism can support democracy.» Indeed. What it can – and does – support is a pretense at «representative democracy», behind the cover of which, business as usual proceeds. Trump or Macron – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….


      • It does look like Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron takes it at a 2 to 1 margin.

  3. Oh, hey, I’ve got a crazy idea. How about we fight the bad politicritters regardless of their tribal affiliations? It’s not a binary choice, regardless of what TPTB would have you believe.

    That said – which is the biggest threat today? The party which controls all three branches of government, or the party which controls zero?

    • “How about we fight the bad politicritters regardless of their tribal affiliations?”

      I’m fine with that.

      I’m just not happy about the coming whiplash back into unreconstructed Democrat rule.

      • How about? It ain’t gonna happen. None of these critters are going to go back to school or suddenly gain an education they never had. They’re in their own ‘comfort zone’ and nothing except a dire calamity will nudge them much in any direction except the bubble they feel supported in.

      • @rikster

        So, I judge you to be pro-calamity.

        I agree calamity awaits the species. Mass murders are becoming more common as people reach the end of their tether.

        Homo incendiarius lives by fire and dies by fire, and either way a mass die-off awaits.

        Mass man is mass murder.

        But then I recognize my own mortality without feeling much dread or hurry to get it over with.

        Have you ever seen the Movie “Downfall”?

        It’s about Hitler’s last days and hours in his bunker.

        Those people in the bunker were real party animals, drinking, dancing, and committing suicide as the end approached.

        That’s not me.

        Is it you?

      • Calamity is most assuredly coming.

        According to Stephen Jay Gould, calamity is the mother of evolution. Perhaps a truly sapient homo will arise from the ashes. Or perhaps the cockroaches will come up with a longer-lasting civilization.

      • Or perhaps the cockroaches will come up with a longer-lasting civilization. Let us hope, in that event, that the cockroaches can escape the temptation to call their system «civilisation». As we have seen in the case of a certain Great Ape, that sort of hubris leads to tragic consequences….


  4. Americans, for the most part, are intellectually captive to being binary-minded, Stockholm-syndrome-minded servants who will accuse opposition to the Clinton-Obama regime as support for Trump.

    They don’t want to be free of these parasitical parties; they want a return to the rule of Trump-lite Democrats, who will deport, make war, and class war, and prosecute whistle blowers in a style they find easier to accept with equanimity, in the style such as provided the Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama.

    There is now a vocal opposition to Trump that a real substantive opposition could capitalize upon, but the plebian servants of duopoly will consider a loss of this opportunity, through the inevitable rebound to Democrats in 2018, to be a win.

    The repeat of the “Out of the frying pan into the fire, and then back again into the frying pan,” process will be celebrated as a win by those who will never learn. Such is life in the fake news neoliberal media bubble that can’t imagine an alternative is possible.

    Poor, poor little authoritarians get fooled over and over again.

    • I suspect that binary-mindedness is a human survival trait. Good-to-eat/bad-to-eat. Animals can be categorized as those we run after or run from. Friend or foe, etc. Such broad definitions make it easier to decide in a dangerous situation. (Grog takes the time to analyze the pros and cons of chasing the sabre-tooth, while Grunk lives to reproduce.)

      “It’s us vs. them” resonates at a visceral level. The US politicos have learned to exploit that tendency to such an extent that we’re now at each others’ throats.

      The thing is, civilization is only possible if we know when to suppress our inner Neanderthals.

      • True.

        The task at hand is to recognize friend from foe in numbers substantial enough to make a difference.

      • Careful, Glenn you touched on a favorite soapbox…

        Xenophobia is also a survival trait. Say I’m strolling across the savanna with my favorite antelope thighbone when I spot a stranger. He may be friendly or foely. If I treat him as a friend and he’s a foe – he gets to reproduce. If I treat him as a foe when he’s a friend, I get fresh meat. Game theory says to assume he’s a foe.

        So, yeah, the hardest part of house-breaking a homo sap is getting him to play nice with people in greater numbers than he can know on an individual basis.

        It goes against the grain, but it can be done. I think you brought up the idea of national identity recently. One of the problems in the US is that due to our history of immigration, we don’t have a melting pot so much as a whole lotta pots. Makes us easier to divide.

      • @ CrazyH –

        I heard it said a number of years ago that we no longer have a “melting pot,” but a “salad bowl.” Each has his own particular identity, mixed in with the whole.

        I’m not sure I like the analogy.

      • We’ve got too many nuts and seedy people in that salad. What I soy may sound corny, but lettuce find a way to beet them. It will be a complicated maize to navigate, but I yam certain that the solution will turnip in thyme and we can raise everyone’s celery; and bring about world peas, while promoting slaw & order.

      • «If I treat him as a friend and he’s a foe – he gets to reproduce. If I treat him as a foe when he’s a friend, I get fresh meat.» And, presumably, you, too, CrazyH, get a chance at reproduction as well. Otherwise, of course, the evolutionary consequences of your successful thigh-bone diplomacy are nil…. 😉


      • @andreas5 –

        Thank you, that is indeed high punishment.

        @henri –

        Unfortunately, I’m the idiot who always starts out trusting the other guy. Am I ‘civilized’ or ‘domesticated’? Which will be of more use when the revolution come?

      • «Unfortunately, I’m the idiot who always starts out trusting the other guy.» If I may be serious for a moment, CrazyH, I suspect that our species’ enormous success is due in large part to our ability to (at least provisionally) trust the other guy, which has allowed us to combine together with the objective of raising Hell with those with whom we don’t share that (provisional) trust….

        The problem seems to be that much of that (provional) intra-group trust is based upon inter-group distrust and that we no longer have to rely on antelope thigh-bones or asses’ jawbones to express our lack of trust in members of the other group (cf the pacific Mr Obama’s decision to commit the United States to investing a million million (10¹²) USD over the next three decades to «upgrade» the US nuclear arsenal)….

        We are well and truly fucked….


      • > If I may be serious for a moment,

        Oh, all right – if you insist. :pout:

        > I suspect that our species’ enormous success is due our ability to trust the other guy.

        True, dat. We invented civilization that way. (insert scare quotes as you see fit)

        > intra-group trust is based upon inter-group distrust

        Unfortunately, that’s also true. We naturally band together for mutual protection, and it’s all too easy to assume we need protection from them. Peace lies in realizing that all of humanity – nay, all life on Earth – is part of the same group.

        Peas note that I avoided at least three obvious vegetable puns. You’re welcome. 😀

      • @henri

        but… but… we DO still fight with asses’ jawbones. We call it “congress.”

      • «but… but… we DO still fight with asses’ jawbones. » +1

        On the other hand, unfortunately, we don’t seem to limit the instruments with which we fight each other to asses’ jawbones any more ; thereof teh overhanging risk of extinction….


  5. They usually aren’t stooges – aside from Trump – they are people who will say what you want to hear and then do what they want once they have fooled a bunch of Amoronicans into voting them in…
    Scam-man – sung to Mr. Sandman
    Mr. Scam-man, bring me a dream – Promise me everything and act tough and mean. Dump all the poisons into my water, then go and hire your fiends and daughter. Mr. Scam-man, I’m all alone, take away my healthcare and throw me a bone – Mr. Scam-man, if you please, bring the US down to its knees! Dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb,dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb – I’m numb!

    • Of course you recognize that Trump is a reactionary product of Democratic Party misrule? And that a Democratic Party win in 2018 will be a reactionary product of Republican rule?

      When will the political divide lose its peer-to-peer left-right aspect, and develop the upstairs-downstairs, class-to-class orientation?

      People sometimes talk about secession from Washington.

      When will the people recognize that Washington has already seceded from the people, and that the Power Elite have taken all the big money and big weapons with them, leaving a post-industrial wasteland behind, with plebeians vengefully voting for Trump and against the clueless pro-NAFTA, pro-TPP Democrats?

      Defeat of Trump by unreconstructed Democrats will only create new ground for the next Trump to continue the downward spiral of decline into idiocy.

      • When? I would say never, Glenn – rather than hope they might come to their senses if someone tried to slowly make reality dawn on them. Most of them will never read your post and even if they did, they wouldn’t understand it much. Most of these people are “hardwired” for hate – they desperately need to look down on someone to lift them up.

      • Lithuanians have an old saying in regards to their character: “A man isn’t happy unless his neighbor’s roof is on fire”. There is a grain of truth in this that can apply to much of what has been expressed in many posts here.

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