Sunday, January 29, 2017

Democrats need to fight

What the hell is wrong with the Democratic Party? They totally underestimated Don, and the Orange Menace became the titular president. The majority of Americans did NOT vote for Don, and, perhaps most importantly, the positions of Democrats are supported by the majority of Americans. Then why the hell are Democrats being such weak cowards?

As the video above from Ezra Klein of Vox points out, Don has no intention of being anything other than a radical president pandering to the minority who voted for him. He hasn’t reached out to Democrats, he has done absolutely nothing to calm the fear—terror, even—of those who voted against him or who oppose his politics.

So, why aren’t Democrats capitalising on that? Sen. Cory Booker took the highly unusual step of testifying against the fellow US Senator nominated for a presidential cabinet position, the Republican junior senator from Alabama, Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III. Apart from that—which was criticised by folks in the Democratic Party establishment—there has been mostly silence and surrender from Democrats.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren not only voted to confirm the wildly and spectacularly unqualified Ben “Mumbles” Carson, she actually defended her vote. She said, in essence, that had she not, Don would have named someone even worse, and perhaps that’s true. But why is half as bad a "good" thing?

It’s true that Carson was not the biggest or most important battle—there are so many “bigger fish” to defeat. And it’s also true that some Democrats, like Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Lewis, and Rep. Luis GutiĆ©rtez, among others, are holding nominees’ feet to the fire and fighting back. But there’s no counter narrative, there’s not even an attempt to get the message out that the Democrats represent the positions of the majority of Americans, and that Don emphatically does not.

This reminds me of the worst years of the Bush/Cheney regime, that time immediately after 9/11, when Democrats—again, with a few exceptions—decided they would stay silent. Theirs, like Warren’s, was a politically-motivated decision, aimed mostly at preserving their position or, perhaps like Warren, to keep their powder dry for other battles.

But this is not like anything we’ve ever seen before. The old rules are gone, a new reality is in place, and Democrats need to wake up to what is happening. They need to oppose Don and the Republican gang whenever they try to ram through things to advance the interests of the minority they represent.

In the highly unlikely event that Don and his gang ever do anything mainstream, then Democrats should absolutely work with him—not that he’ll ever do anything of the kind, of course.

And therein is a strategy that even Establishment Democrats can embrace: Call Don’s bluffs. Repeatedly, and with vigour. Force him to act for ALL Americans or, as will always be the case and he acts only for his minority, the difference will be stark and obvious to mainstream Americans.

This has already started to happen a little bit. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Leader in the US Senate, is proposing a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. In the campaign, Don talked about infrastructure and said he’d fix things. Instead, the tax incentives he’s proposed will only help the oligarchs and plutocrats get richer and provide little or no actual improvement. The plan from the Democrats, on the other hand, will actually repair vital but crumbling infrastructure.

But I don’t hold out hope that Democrats will suddenly become the fierce warriors I think they should be—maybe after the 2018 midterms, if a new generation of tougher Democrats are elected and pushes the old guard to the side. But, in the meantime, the party’s leaders have shown no inclination to fight Don’s agenda. Hell, the party can’t even be bothered to hurry up and name a leader of the Democratic National Committee, so the party has no leaders outside of Congress, either.

Democrats, regardless of whether they call Don’s bluffs or fight him, probably can’t force him to work on behalf of all Americans. But they might just manage to make it clear that Don will only pander to the minority who voted for him, and that he only cares about the oligarchs and plutocrats like himself.

Times have changed. It’s about time Democrats realised that—they need to fight.

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