The Star Democrat
I introduced myself to someone at the YMCA the other day in the process of asking him about his sweat-shirt which said “onward.” It reminded me of something. We talked a little and he mentioned he’s a “far left Democrat.” I asked him how he thought Biden was doing? He said “he’s doing as well as can be expected, hanging in there.” Who do you think will be blamed if the Dems go down in 2022? I asked. “Biden” he answered with resignation. “Maybe,” I replied, “but I bet you your own party blames the far-left Dems instead.” As nonsensical as it seems, I’d give you odds on that bet.
When the people in a political party who support the most popular policies among the electorate across the board are blamed for alienating voters, there is a problem. And it’s not just about unity, it’s about sanity and stability. But will the moderate and establishment Democratic leaders be called out for their failure? Doubtful. Even though party membership overwhelmingly supports programs like universal health care, drug price negotiations, climate action, minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, law enforcement reform and much more. So why do they so readily accept this hole in the ship of reality? The answer is comfort!
To put this into context, I am a recovering comfortable Democrat. I sincerely believe that a large portion of that party’s membership wants what is good for all Americans, especially for working people who struggle the most. Unfortunately, this brings us to a phenomenon called “virtue signaling.” Not all, but many Democrats espouse human-centric policy in the interest of what such talk says about them as individuals, not in the interest of what it might really change for Americans if acted on. This is the rub and the ticket that allows Democratic leadership to remain shamelessly unaccountable.
The educated urban and suburban voters working from home at jobs that provide a living wage, health insurance and other benefits aren’t in any hurry to change things. Democratic leadership knows it. This provides the opportunity for corrupt incumbents to win the votes of many people who at least nominally care about the needs of the less fortunate, while leadership prioritizes the needs of the ultra-wealthy donor class with whom they identify. Look no further than the lifestyle of Bill and Hill.
But here lies the zinger. The “deplorables” were right all along. Trump supporters are regularly vilified by Dems for voting against their own interest, but it’s the other way around. Long before Trump, working Americans realized, based on personal experience with the system, that promising without delivering is even worse than failure. No matter the promises, neither Dems or Republicans over the last forty plus years have delivered anything substantial for middle class voters, and in their guts, these voters understood what they could expect nothing going forward. This point of view has proven accurate. Anger and frustration with government replaced hope and belief in our institutions. Enter Trump.
Trump promised almost nothing. “Let us return to the days of yesteryear” he said. Make America Great Again was about as specific as it got. But he was a master at expressing the anger working people felt. It was an aphrodisiac to those who felt powerless, abandoned and betrayed. They weren’t theorizing about the failure of the federal bureaucracy; they were feeling it viscerally in their every day lives. Not able to get ahead financially or socially, they were getting even with the most potent weapon they could find, a narcissistic idiot.
Meanwhile Democratic leaders in their self-righteous arrogance are blaming the progressive wing in their own party for a situation that is now verging on catastrophic. Don’t forget, the deplorables knew the system was broken and acted on that instinct. Because the system is precariously holding for many Democratic voters, they are still trying to cling to the self-righteous hypocrisy of their leaders. They cling to the fantasy that somehow the ship will magically right itself and begin functioning in the next cycle. As long as they are able to wallow in their relative comfort and accept the corruption of their hypocritical leaders this will not happen.
Democratic voters who value the stability of their nation need to stop supporting a leadership that feeds them nothing but pablum. Faith in failure has limits. We are living with a political system designed to reward inertia. The eventual consequence of that inertia will be chaos, violence and ultimately severe repression of freedom.
Many pundits make a living criticizing and ridiculing politicians on both sides of the spectrum — Harsanyi, Lyons, Estrich, Roberts, Coulter. They prosper in proportion to how much their blather incites their faithful audience to hostility. Their popularity along with CNN, MSNBC and FOX is a big part of the problem. They build their success on the crisis and animosity of their country.
When you compare the two parties of the duopoly, even though the label Republican means little more than angry, empty and obstructive, the Democratic Party seems to me to be in a more precarious position. The Republican agenda can be summed up in one short word — NO. No taxes, no regulation, no climate action, no universal health care, no abortion, no more spending, no expansion of government or the Supreme Court and no to anything the Dems propose. If that’s not eNOugh, then I don’t NO NOthing. Unbelievably the Dems are worse off still. They are the party of broken promises, fake futility and deceitful posturing. Adding insult to injury, they imagine that people believe all their failure is the fault of the Republicans. Working class Americans did not just fall in love with the absurdity of Trumpism, they were driven to it by a system that has failed them. It is poised to fail everyone.
If you are a registered Democrat or Republican and relate to what I write you are probably feeling some of the same hopelessness I have been feeling. Talk of civil war and support for extremism is evident, extensive and frightening. We are all operating under a dark cloud of frustration and anger. In our current system however there is very little choice. Both branches of the duopoly serve the same master and it’s not the vast majority of American people. For anyone who can understand how entrenched, unaccountable and corrupt the whole thing is there is little reason for optimism.
As an independent this has been my thinking as well until the last couple of weeks. First I needed to remind myself that my country is not only strong but also resilient. Many of us are looking for a new and better direction. The political duopoly wants you to think the only direction you can go is either left or right. They are wrong. A new book by Andrew Yang highlights another, more positive and hopeful way to move and that is “FORWARD!” Check it out. More in my next piece.