Scenes From the Continuing Democratic Suicide

Never interrupt your opponent when they’re in the midst of committing suicide. But like a trainwreck or a septic tank explosion, the grisly spectacle of the ongoing Democratic Party implosion exerts a certain fascination.

In City Journal, Joshua Mitchell fingers the main culprit in the Democratic Party’s ongoing suicide: identity politics:

The most remarkable fact about the postelection months has been the absolute certainty of Democrats that they have a right to rule in America, that Donald Trump is not a legitimate president, and that there is a need for resistance (now dubbed “the Resistance”) of the sort unseen in America since the 1960s.

Normal politics—liberal politics, classically understood—involves speech, argument, and persuasion, followed by voting on ideas or proposals that can be overturned in the next election cycle. Normal politics presumes that we can rise far enough above our small-group attributes—our race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion—and that we can arrive at a political arrangement that works well enough for us to live together as part of a larger polity until the next election, when we commence the process again. But for the Democrats, absolute certainty has prevailed over normal politics—and the certainty, at bottom, rests on a single idea: identity politics.

Identity politics rejects the model of traditional give-and-take politics, presupposing instead that the most important thing about us is that we are white, black, male, female, straight, gay, and so on. Within the identity-politics world, we do not need to give reasons—identity is its own reason and justification. Because identity politics supposes that we are our identities, politics does not consist in the speech, argument, and persuasion of normal politics but instead, in the calculation of resource redistribution based on identity—what in Democratic parlance is called “social justice.” The irony of identity politics is that it does not see itself as political; it supposes that we live in a post-political age, that social justice can be managed by the state, and that those who oppose identity politics are the ones “being political.” What speech does attend this post-political age consists in shaming those who do not accept the idea of identity politics—as on our college campuses. In the 1960s, college students across the country fought so that repressed ideas would receive a fair hearing. These days, college students fight to repress all ideas except one: identity politics.

Thoughtful Democrats see that identity politics is a dead end, but fear to speak up. The militants are hunkered down, and the party leadership hasn’t changed its outlook. The patient refuses help; the party carries on with exhausted ideas and destructive habits. Hence, the paradox: the Democratic Party is on life support, and yet it is more animated than ever, in top-to-bottom resistance to Trump. To return to full strength, many seem to believe, the Democratic Party need only recommit to its embrace of identity politics.

When identity politics provides the lens through which one sees the world, changing the perspective is regarded as self-blinding. The suggestion that this outlook might be harming the Democratic Party is thus denounced as racist, as insensitive to gender issues, and as inattentive to the purported needs of various identity groups. Identity politics can’t self-correct; it can only double-down. Here is the strangeness of our current moment. Untreated, diseases don’t heal; they metastasize.

Snip.

ut return to the question: In what direction does the arc of history bend? For King, America is a covenantal community, whose mission can be fulfilled only when blacks and whites work together to heal the wound of slavery. For King, that was the direction toward which the long arc of history bent. In the identity-politics world, however, the wound of slavery is not simply a malignancy to be healed. It is a template to be used to identify and catalog an infinitely proliferating array of wounds and grievances, tallied—indeed, fomented—by the Democratic Party, with a view to gathering power and votes. There is no watchful yet merciful God, who calls us to repent and to forgive; there is only ever-expanding grievance, over which righteous, largely white, progressives preside. Identity politics depends on the wound of slavery to provide its initial coherence—but it does not stop there. Instead, it ceaselessly seeks to expand its mandate.

And few of victimhood identity politics current candidates for the Intersectionailty Sweepstakes has quite the cachet of illegal aliens, who triple identity politics points for being non-white, non-American and breakers of the law. Plus, not at all incidentally, they vote disproportionately Democratic. No wonder hardcore progressives in the Democratic Party love them.

But the problem for them is that American voters, by and large, do note, as Andrew Sullivan (remember him?) notes:

I don’t believe it’s disputable at this point that the most potent issue behind the rise of the far right in America and Europe is mass immigration. It’s a core reason that Trump is now president; it’s why the AfD is now the third-biggest party in the German, yes, German, parliament; it’s why Austria’s new chancellor won by co-opting much of the far right’s agenda on immigration; it’s why Britain is attempting (and currently failing) to leave the EU; it’s why Marine Le Pen won a record number of votes for her party in France this spring. A critical moment, in retrospect, came with Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to import over a million Syrian refugees into the heart of Europe. I’ve no doubt her heart was in the right place, but the political naïveté was stunning. How distant from the lives and views of most people does an elite have to be to see nothing to worry about from such drastic social and cultural change? Michael Brendan Dougherty elegantly explains here the dynamic that followed. There are now new borders and fences going up all over Europe, as a response to Merkel’s blithe misjudgment.

You would think that parties of the center-left would grapple with this existential threat to their political viability. And some have. One reason Britain’s Labour Party has done well in the last couple of years is that it has recognized the legitimacy of the issue. During the Brexit referendum, their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, expressed ambivalence toward remaining in the EU, careful not to lose his working-class base to the Europhobic right, recognizing the fears so many of his own supporters had about the impact of mass immigration on their lives, jobs, and culture. Even someone as leftist as Corbyn chose to be a pragmatist, trying to gain power, rather than a purist who might otherwise condemn his own voters as deplorable. And this is one reason why I have dwindling hopes that the Democratic Party will be able to defeat Trump in 2020. Instead of adjusting to this new reality, and listening to the electorate, the Dems have moved ever farther to the left, and are controlled by ever-radicalizing activists.

Much kvetching about Republicans unreasonableness on immigration omitted.

Democrats in 2017, in general, tend to criticize the use of immigration enforcement, and tend to side with those accused of violating immigration law, as a broad matter of principle beyond opposing the particular actions of the administration … Democrats are no longer as willing to attack “illegal immigration” as a fundamental problem anymore.

This is, to be blunt, political suicide. The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.

He still tragically owns that stage. What Merkel did for the AfD, the Democrats are in danger of doing for the Trump wing of the GOP. The most powerful thing Trump said in the campaign, I’d argue, was: “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.” And the Democrats had no answer, something that millions of Americans immediately saw. They still formally favor enforcement of immigration laws, but rhetorically, they keep signaling the opposite. Here is Dylan Matthews, also in Vox, expressing the emerging liberal consensus: “Personally, I think any center-left party worth its salt has to be deeply committed to egalitarianism, not just for people born in the U.S. but for everyone … It means treating people born outside the U.S. as equals … And it means a strong presumption in favor of open immigration.” Here’s Zack Beauchamp, a liberal friend of mine: “What if I told you that immigration restrictionism is and always has been racist?” Borders themselves are racist? Seriously?

The entire concept of a nation whose citizens solely determine its future — the core foundation for any viable democracy at all — is now deemed by many left-liberals to be a function of bigotry. This is the kind of madness that could keep them from power indefinitely.

Strangely enough, the DNC’s embrace of identity politics and illegal aliens has coincided with continued fundraising woes:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by more than $6 million last month, according to federal filings.

Recently released numbers show the DNC raised around $4 million during the month of September, while the RNC raised about $10 million.

The data also showed that the RNC has roughly $44 million in cash on hand, while the DNC has roughly $7 million.

The RNC reports having no debt, while the DNC has $3.7 million in debt.

The numbers show an expanding money gap between the national party committees, with the RNC raising more than $104 million so far this year while the DNC has raised a little over $51 million.

And this during the midst of full-bore Trump Derangement Syndrome all across the left. “Trump is the worst thing ever! But the DNC sucks so bad I’m not going to send them money to fight him.”

And of course, the fact that DNC Chair Tom Perez has ruthlessly purged Bernie Sanders supporters from all DNC staff positions while retaining Clinton cronies does suggest the DNC has no particular interest in healing the fractures in the party the 2016 Presidential race exposed.

And speaking of Hillary and the 2016 Presidential race, how can the party miss her if she won’t go away?

The last thing Democrat leaders need now is for the American people to remember why they elected Trump last year. Yet there she is — someone even more unpopular than Trump. Clinton was the personification of the elitism America spent last year rejecting and her recent book and tour only underscore it anew.

At the very least, Clinton diverts some spotlight away from Trump and Republicans at a time when Democrat leaders want it shining brightest. Worse is the worry that Hillary has no intention of leaving. And worst of all that she may even harbor delusions of running again — that she actually believes her self-spun fantasy about 2016.

Could she seriously believe that her third time is the charm? More realistic is the question for Democrat leaders: Could there be any doubt if Clinton thought there was any conceivable way she could win in 2020?

Democrat leaders also have good reason to worry that Hillary’s 2016 amnesia is contagious. A recent Rasmussen poll (conducted 9/10-11, 1,000 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3%) showed that while 61% (up from 55% just after the election) of all respondents believe Clinton should leave politics and 49% believe her continued presence is bad for Democrats, 54% of Democrats still think she has a political future.

Despite majorities among Republicans and Independents who believe Hillary was responsible for her loss, 65% of Democrats blame other factors. For Democrat leaders, this makes Clinton’s book and tour not simply delusional but dangerous.

Democratic unity is more tenuous than it currently appears. As last year’s nomination fight showed, the Party establishment’s grasp is seriously challenged by a growing and increasingly hostile far left that strongly backed Bernie Sanders over Clinton. Only by rigging the rules did the establishment and Hillary prevail.

Trump has been beneficial to Democrat leaders — not just because of the electoral potential they imagine he offers — but because he has united their Party far more than Democrats could on their own. Clinton’s continued presence threatens both. And that threat only grows if she and Democrats believe Clinton remains politically viable.

Another Clinton run could block other establishment Democrats — dissuading them from running, soaking up the resources to do so, or beating them outright. It could thereby also open the door wider to an even more viable far left run in 2020 — something Democrat leaders barely survived in 2016, even when they sold Clinton as “a sure thing.”

(Hat tip: Director Blue.)

Democrats can’t “move on” because their party has been hijacked by fringe extremists who insist upon adherence to a far leftwing that puts Democrats at odds with the clear majority of the American electorate.

Republicans have problems of their own, but their saving grace this time (as always) is that they get to run against Democrats…

Tags: , , , , , ,

One Response to “Scenes From the Continuing Democratic Suicide”

Leave a Reply