For Progressives, Capturing the Democratic Party is More Important Than Beating Donald Trump kik

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            Nothing, leading Democrats say, matters more than beating Donald Trump. 2020, they argue, is the most important election of our lifetimes (OK, they always say that).

            It’s not true. If you’re a progressive voter, taking back control of the Democratic Party from the DLC-Clinton-Biden centrist cabal is more important than defeating the incumbent.

            For four long decades progressives—Americans who put people before profits—have been living in the political wilderness. Progressives account for 72% of Democratic voters. Figuring lefties had nowhere else to go, party leadership took them for granted, ignoring their desire for a stronger social safety net and fewer military adventures in favor of a pro-corporate agenda. What other choice did they have, vote Republican?

            People who often didn’t vote turned out for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign, proving that many non-voters weren’t apathetic. They were disgusted. After the DNC got caught pulling their usual dirty tricks, however, sabotaging Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton, enough Bernie-or-Busters boycotted the November general election or cast protest votes for Trump to cost her the election.

            Look at what happened! Progressives scored their first major win since the War on Poverty of the 1960s.

            Yes, Trump has been a disaster. He is a terrible president, an international embarrassment, insane, brazenly corrupt, overtly racist, with over-the-top authoritarian tendencies.

            But consider the alternative.

            If Hillary Clinton were running for reelection, progressivism would still be on the outs. Like Obama, Hillary wouldn’t have appointed a single liberal, much less progressive, to her cabinet. She’s so far to the right of Trump on foreign policy that she might have gone to war against Iran. Russian national security analysts concluded that Clinton was crazy enough to start World War III. She’s equally awful on domestic stuff. Hillary is against any increase in the minimum wage. She opposes Medicare For All. She hates the Green New Deal. Her bankster backers would be running wild.

            Because progressives withheld their votes in 2016, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the Democratic frontrunners, enjoying the combined support of 50% of primary voters. Both support a $15 minimum wage, Medicare For All, free college tuition and the Green New Deal. There is no way, no how, that those policy positions would be part of a Clinton 2020 campaign.

            Progressives are so close to seizing control of the Democratic Party that they can taste it. Why, at mile 25 of this political marathon, should they let up on the pressure? They’re about to win!

            If Bernie Sanders is the nominee, supporting him is a no-brainer for progressives. He’s been one of them forever. He’s trustworthy. (It’s a different calculus for leftists like me. Among other things, he needs to swear off militarism.) Progressives will vote for him.

            Warren’s bonafides are squishy. She used to be a Republican, endorses capitalism and keeps Hillary on her speed dial. Is she a prog-come-lately or another fauxgressive who would sell out to Goldman Sachs? She would have to come up with some way to reassure voters that she’s more Sanders than Clinton.

            But what if the DNC shoves Joe Biden or another centrist/moderate/corporatist down our throats again? As usual they’ll say that we have to pull together behind some turd in order to defeat the dastardly Donald Trump. But why?

            History is clear. Lame-duck presidents don’t get big laws, new wars or much in the way of policy accomplished during their second terms. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan was hobbled by dementia and Iran Contra, Clinton was impeached because of Monica and the second Bush spent his last four years in the quagmires of Iraq and then the bursting of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Obama avoided scandal but an intransigent Republican Congress left him with little to show for years five through eight.

            By 2021 Trump will almost certainly have already been impeached. Congress will probably still be Democratic. I ask my fellow Trump-haters: what exactly are you so afraid of in a second term? What do you think the president can do in a second term that he hasn’t already done? Does he strike you as the kind of person who has been plotting some big right-wing surprise to unleash in case he wins reelection?

            Forget the Supreme Court-is-everything argument. As Obama proved when he refused to push for Merrick Garland, Democrats don’t move the needle. Anyway, it’s a right-wing court now. Write that sucker off.

            There is a nightmare scenario: Trump dies early on. Mike Pence has three years to establish himself before running in 2024. That would really and truly suck. That is a real risk. But is fear of a Pence planet powerful enough to go back to letting the centrist scum take progressives’ votes for granted?

            If the DNC robs Warren or Sanders in favor of Biden or whomever or Hillary again, Democratic progressives have little to lose by boycotting the general election again. It may be that the corporatists need to be taught the same bitter lesson a second time: without progressives there is no Democratic Party.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

14 thoughts on “For Progressives, Capturing the Democratic Party is More Important Than Beating Donald Trump kik

  1. Re: “By 2021 Trump will almost certainly have already been impeached. Congress will probably STILL be Democratic.” (My emphasis.)

    Perhaps it’s a simple typo … but, if not, the use of “STILL” implies Congress is NOW Democratic, which, of course, it is not. House > Dem ; senate > GOP

    How many Russian assets will HRC need to identify before she is nominated by rousing acclamation and begged by all super delegates to protect us from said assets?

  2. Valid points, Ted (even if falco of course is correct in pointing out that while the House, which can impeach, is Democratic, the Senate, which can remove from office – by a two-thirds majority – is Republican). A second-term Trump may very well be less dangerous than a first-term Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton clone. But rather than boycotting the 2020 elections, how about progressives mobilising to bust that Tweedle Dum-Tweedle Dee political theatre which has monopolised political life in the US since the end of Reconstruction ?…

    Henri

    • Henri,

      I find Bloomberg’s campaign perplexing. It’s almost like he’s trying to help Sanders, like he (Bloomberg) has had his Scrooge moment of awakening.
      No one voting for Sanders is now staring down at their newspaper sobbing quietly, “Which do I pick, they’re so alike!!! Help me, Obi-wan!”
      Bloomberg will drain votes from Biden actively by offering a non-enfeebled candidate, semi-actively by finally pushing all the one-the-fencers over to Sanders (“Jesus. Which billionaire do I vote for? Sanders is right”). All that’s missing is Sanders picking Nina Turner as veep.

      • Well, Alex, I count myself fortunate in that I don’t enjoy the franchise in your country ; trying to determine for which of these two «billionaires» to vote would, I fear, be beyond my poor powers….

        Let us piously hope that Jeffrey Preston Bezos doesn’t decide to run !… 😉

        Henri

  3. “I ask my fellow Trump-haters: what exactly are you so afraid of in a second term?”
    My fear is the complete remaking of the federal judiciary, through senatorial confirmation process, which happens despite congressional actions, via de facto president McConnel.

  4. Ted kind of gives it away in the very first sentence: “Nothing, leading Democrats say, matters more than beating Donald Trump. 2020, they argue, is the most important election of our lifetimes (OK, they always say that).”

    If that were true–if the dem leaders really felt that in their, um, hearts–we would not have 20 candidates, we would not have this entire clown-car show of debates with ten people to the stage. The field would have been trimmed by now to an absolute max of six: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Yang, and Harris. The reason for all these candidates? Wear down Sanders. Sanders is the leftest leftist we’ve got at this point, and once the momentum starts going toward the left, it will keep going, if the left can deliver the goods. And free college, universal health care, a somewhat-livable minimum wage, and a government jobs program that will give people some way to earn a living rather than just die on the street, is a pretty good start.

    In 2020, Gen X, Millennials, and boomers will all be at about 25% (+-3%) of the voting population. In 2024, the three-way tie will probably be even closer, and Gen Z will be approaching from below. If this were rocket science, 2020-24 would be called the maximum inflection point: the point at which a unit of fuel will give the best amount of propulsion.

    Younger people, the Gen Xers feel your pain. We’re on your side. But you have got to, got to, got to, listen to us on this as we are the first generation through the minefield: the Identity Politics ideology you have been raised on your entire lives is toxic. Identity Politics is like asbestos-flavored vape pods. To the people in Washington and on Wall Street you have one identity regardless of gender, race, color, sexual identity, or anything else: you are either rich or you are nothing.

    Like I said at the beginning, on this, Gen X has a doctorate because a lot of us started out a lot better than where we’ve ended up, and we’ve seen the difference in how we’re treated. Compromise has impoverished a huge swath of this country. There’s not much left to steal before the damage becomes irreversible, but the Republicans and the democrats in the 1% are ready, willing, and able to strip every bit of flesh from all of our bones.

  5. I read Ted every weekend. He takes the conventional wisdom and turns it 180 degrees. As a general rule, it is useful to look at any argument from the opposite side.
    We are living under the neo-liberal curse that is the wealth magnet for the upper 1%. That is world-wide. People around the planet have had it. Hence the attacks on the status quo, which is why Trump became president.
    As a few voices like Bernie, Ted and Michael Moore point out, the “progressive” solutions are the most popular with people. But not with the political machine. Anyone who will not kowtow to the machine is attacked and marginalized.
    Young people gravitate to the left because it is logical and they haven’t been exposed to decades of propaganda convincing them to vote against their own interests.
    It should be interesting.

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