Skip to main content

These Democrats Will Be the Death of Us

Another article, based on another study of the election has prompted people to declare once again that now there's definitive proof that Trump is president because of racism. The study looks at people who switched party voting affiliation, the article focuses specifically on Obama to Trump voters, or ~6% of voters, to draw its conclusions. I'm less interested in exploring the study and article, others have done that. I'm interested in the function they serve in the political discourse to essentially give cover to political elites. Matt Stoller points to this in his review of the article:
@eshalegal looked at the methodology of the study and found it wanting overall but one thing is particularly disturbing:
Aside from being completely satisfied with these takes on the article and study, I've written about it and a study of voters who switched is inadequate for explaining why Donald Trump is president.
One could look solely at the people who voted for Trump, their racial attitudes, their economic situations, ask each individually why they voted for him and still not have a sufficient explanation for his win. It doesn't speak to why people didn't vote for HRC or why so many eligible voters didn't vote at all.
Further, to rely on racial animus as an explanation for the election requires either completely ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton, while talking about institutional racism in 2016 unapologetically ran a white supremacist campaign against Obama in 2008, or minimizing it. A number have insisted that her 08 "strategy" is irrelevant because Trump was explicit, essentially taking a relative approach to racism to insist that racism is the cause for Trump's presidency because he was a more effective racist than Hillary. It becomes even more ridiculous when you consider that the agency of Black voters is being dismissed in the 'but, racism' explanation. While we are not likely to return en masse to voting for Republicans, not voting remains an option, and running a white supremacist might be a better explanation for the historic 10% drop in Black voter participation than the absence of a Black candidate.


When Stoller says that this narrative absolves liberals of their need for introspection, that not only applies to policy failures and absences of elected officials, it also refers to the racism of her voters and illustrates the performative nature of this shaming and absence of reparative action.

It's worthwhile to contemplate why such a ridiculous explanation that essentially offers the left nothing it can utilize to defeat Trump retains such primacy despite how it fails to withstand simple questioning. Like centering Russia, this narrative is an attempt to not only absolve dems of past failures but also, disturbingly, for continuing to offer no national platform or agenda. It's troublesome because it seems that the dems are completely impervious to both moral and political imperatives at a time when there are too many to count. Considering how generally reactionary the party is it's telling that they've offered no prescriptions for anything he's done instead essentially promising repeatedly to take no action, or useless action. Looking at the results of polls of voters' concerns if dems were especially interested in winning votes there's no shortage of things to address:


Seeing that Trump's taxes didn't really make the list before he was president, one might assume there are better things to focus on for electoral inspiration. That they don't, makes it clear the democrats are avoiding centering policy prescriptions which might upset donors and considering how widely spread across the economy their donors are that's troubling. Recently the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire report essentially saying we have a dozen years to dramatically cut carbon emissions to avoid widespread ecological catastrophe. I'd call this a moral imperative. It's a shame that the Democrats do not.

When I write these posts I usually start with a vague thesis, a handful of sources, and a scribbled 'outline'. The title is the last thing. This time the title came first because it's also my thesis and I want to be completely clear. We know who the Republicans are, this moment should lay clear who the Democrats are. It's bad enough that they block progressive policy while offering no alternatives hoping to essentially play out the clock on Trump being totally vile. The worst thing about the democrats and their absence of strategy is that the way they play out the clock will ensure Trump a second term. It's clear they don't actually care about the consequences of his policies, they all got tax cuts. I have said online repeatedly that Hillary's campaign made use of media friends to create the only monster she could defeat. I've thought of it as metaphorically true without realizing until this recent hubbub that it might be absolutely and plainly true. Here, I'm not talking about The Pied Piper Strategy, I'm saying that her plan was to deliberately turn him into an unelectable monster. The irony of the desire to deny the role of economics in Trump's win is that he talked 'policy' more than she did. Yes he was blatantly racist and a huckster but he actually talked economic concerns. She mostly talked about him.


Hillary's entire strategy was a mix of priming voters to associate Trump with racism and misogyny and shaming of racists while offering nothing substantive as an agenda. By focusing on identity in the most cynical way possible, focusing on people as racist, enmeshing them with an identity, and then castigating them as deplorables her campaign helped to calcify his support. Her shaming gambit was the DARE Program of political strategies, in that like the program it had the opposite effect. In The Politics of Shame Brianha Joy Gray applies the conclusions of a 2007 study on morality, emotions, and behavior and writes:
Feeling their entire self-image under attack, shame-prone individuals are more likely to externalize blame and lash out destructively, including physically and verbally. According to the study, shamed individuals are prone to "turn the tables defensively" and direct their anger toward "a convenient scapegoat"-- all in a bid to regain control and superiority in life. Moreover, where guilt evokes "other-oriented empathy" and is more likely to lead to behavioral change, shame disrupts the empathy process. Instead of considering ways to remedy our behavior, shame prompts us to become self-protective and defensive of our identities.
If shame prompts self-protection of one's identity I'd suggest that having a hypocrite attempt to shame might prompt a proud embrace. The constant repetition on the theme of his badness while offering no alternative, no policy, no agenda, nothing that joined us in a larger project for our shared future; nothing except her, served to inoculate us not against him as a disease but against the fear of him her campaign attempted to foster. Having learned nothing this remains the Democrat's national strategy, and it's just as effective. I'm often called out on Twitter for hitting at the Democrats more than the Republicans. I've never voted for a Republican. The reason I say these Democrats will be the death of us is because they're supposed to be our opposition, but from where I sit they seem to be collaborating.

In February of 2016 Nathan J. Robinson, editor-in-chief of Current Affairs wrote:
Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton's (considerable) weakness plays to every one of Trump's strengths, whereas every one of Trump's (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sander's strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.
Now Trump has the power of incumbency. If we want a chance at winning back the presidency we need a nominee who:

  1. has a vision Biden, Harris. Gillabrand, Booker, Warren (?), Sanders
  2. has an affirmative agenda BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren (?), Sanders
  3. is a credible advocate of that agenda BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren (?), Sanders
  4. is capable of driving a narrative BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren, Sanders
  5. isn't reactionary BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren, Sanders
  6. is capable of speaking to Trump voters with something like compassion Sanders
  7. and someone that Trump can't go to the left of BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren (?), Sanders
  8. Voted against the Defense budget BidenHarrisGillabrand, Booker, Warren, Sanders
I don't think this is where I intended to go with this but contemplating the fact that shaming racists seems to still be the dem electoral strategy I just want to state early where I stand. No one voting to give Trump more in Defense spending than he asked for will be president. "If I'm so dangerous why'd you vote to give me more nuclear bombs?" Our modern PT Barnum is incapable of being shamed. Of the potential contenders, Bernie is the only one with the skill and positioning to challenge Trump in incumbency by leading with his own agenda. We have only 12 years to prevent the temperature rise climate scientist are warning against, if Trump wins again it's over. The last two years culminating in Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and Schumer fast tracking Trump judicial appointees has convinced me that the Democrats failing to nominate Bernie will be the final nail in our collective coffin. People have repeatedly accused him of wanting to coddle racists for resisting the idea that all of Trump's voters are racists, when it's obvious you don't get people to vote for you by telling them they suck.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If You Love Your People, Set It Free (or How an Identitarian Came To Prefer Universal Policy Over Identity Politics)

This post is late because I was in LA last week, where I made a point of walking as much as possible to enjoy my audiobook. Although I still have 20/20 vision I have been slow to accept that aging has made it more difficult to read, making it feel increasingly like a chore. In fully embracing this I've finally started looking for audiobooks I might find engaging enough to not be constantly distracted. For my trip I chose Mehrsa Baradaran's The Color of Money, which looks at the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the US.  It was incredibly striking and depressing listening to The Color of Money while accidentally walking through encampments of the unhoused, watching new encampments sprout up in the short time that I was there. This is who we've always been. If you have any doubt, the history recounted in The Color of Money makes it clear that capitalism has always been about extracting wealth from Black people and keeping poor people poor. On checking into Twitter I wa…

Anti-racism - Class = Status Quo: The Neoliberal Argument Against Coalition

I was approached a few months ago around the idea of collaborating to make the progressive case for reparations. I've said before that while the idea of reparations is morally appealing I don't believe in them as an immediate political project. It's not clear to me that it's possible to build a coalition around a reparative justice focused on just 13% of the population. Encouraged by a recent Twitter conversation that included economists Sandy Darrity and Darrick Hamilton where they suggested that saying reparations will never happen is cynical I've begun trying to think of them as an eventuality and lay out the steps to reaching them. Doing this has made clear that our understanding of reparations as a form of compensation to the descendants of the enslaved is not the reparative justice that we think it to be. If we were living with the kind of understanding of justice that made reparations possible we would not be a nation where war, healthcare, education, and cr…

Even Shitty People Can Support Good Things

If in observing this reality, noting that $31,600, before taxes, for 52 weeks of labor represents a raise for a significant number of Black and Latino workers you're inclined to insist we also need to confront racism, you are not the left. While personal bias can sometimes have deadly results, the numbers pale beside the exponentially larger number of deaths that are the result of the deprivations of capitalism. And I have yet to hear any effective method I might use for addressing bias within others that warrants adding it as a goal to the already monumental task of getting even subsistence level needs consistently met. Whether you consider yourself left or not it should be clear that the only potential candidate interested in transforming our political system towards one that considers the needs of the most vulnerable is Bernie Sanders. I want to say something that will be treated as controversial or apologist in certain circles but shouldn't be by anyone with any sense of …