Riding the tiger
Rage and wrath are unreliable mounts for desperate Democrats
“He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount,” a Chinese proverb cautions the unwary. That’s where the Democrats, flailing in a search for a way out of the wilderness, find themselves in their warm embrace of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Ahead of the 2018 midterms, the Democrats in Washington and the state capitals were at first giddy at the prospect of harnessing the hard left’s boundless outrage and its impressive skills at littering the streets with marches and other protests.
They thought they could channel the fervor of the antiTrump pout — with unruly mobs of activists heckling and shouting down Republican congressmen at town hall meetings — and win back the House of Representatives next year.
But riding a tiger, as Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is discovering the hard way, invariably puts you in danger of merely becoming the tiger’s dinner. Mr. Perez has been heckled, booed and shouted down at tour stops in Maine, Florida and Utah on his “Democratic Unity Tour.” He has had to bring in Sen. Bernie Sanders, the septuagenarian socialist from Vermont and darling of the left, to mollify the party’s dominant fringe.
The slogan of the tour is an invitation to “come together and fight back,” but Mr. Sanders is not even a Democrat, which he takes care to point out on many occasions. He told MSNBC last week that “No, I’m an independent.” This is a distinction without much difference, since Mr. Sanders caucuses with Senate Democrats and his votes seldom stray from the party line. Politico, the Web magazine, observed during last year’s political season that Mr. Sanders voted with the Democrats 95 percent to 99 percent of the time from 2001 to 2010.
Whether because of, or in spite of, Mr. Sanders’ arm’slength embrace of the Democratic Party, he has drawn cheers and applause on the unity tour. This underlines the festering resentment of the Sanders crowd that the party establishment rigged the nominating process last year in favor of Hillary Clinton. Mr. Perez, in fact, was the preferred candidate of Hillary and most of the big mules of the party in choosing the party chief.
The reception of Messrs. Sanders and Perez underscores the party’s swift drift to the deepest, darkest nether regions of the swamp of the left. Other party leaders, under direction of organizers of the swamp community, have been heckled for being insufficiently “progressive.”
At a town hall meeting last week in San Francisco, the epicenter of left-wing Democratic politics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein was heckled for opposing single-payer health care, which she rightly called a “total takeover” of the health care system. Several posters and placards popped up with demands to “Retire Feinstein.” Though 83, Mrs. Feinstein has not ruled out running for a fifth Senate term next year.
The Democrats are discovering, to their considerable dismay, that the left-wing fanatics agitating against President Trump and the Republican Congress, make encouraging noises but are nevertheless a mixed blessing, because they can’t be effectively channeled. Dismounting a tiger is so dangerous that a rider is tempted to ride it to the end, whatever and wherever that may be. It’s not likely to be a happy end.