Saturday, November 21, 2020

Wherefore the Democratic Party?

Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh asks a pertinent question. Today’s Democratic Party is united in its war against the great devil Trump. When it does not have the old Trumpian adhesive, what will happen to it? Will it split into warring factions, because no one is offering a coherent policy agenda.

Do recall that the Democratic Party’s supposed policies did not prove extremely compelling to most voters. They were running as the Anti-Trump party. 

Besides, does the Democratic Party have the brain power to put together an agenda that all segments of the party can accept. 

Recall that Republicans, for all their talk about repealing and replacing Obamacare could not come up with an alternative. You cannot run against something with nothing. The fault, as I see it, lay in weak leadership, especially from Paul Ryan, which lacked the brain power to do the job.

Ganesh explains the Democrats’ dilemma.

Even before his [Trump’s] formal departure, his adhesive effect on the US left is weakening. Moderate Democrats blame the party’s mixed Congressional results on its off-putting radicals. The accused, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among them, reply that candidates who stood on “Medicare for All” and other statist policies got elected. Whoever is right, these recriminations have started even before the realities of presidential power set in: the dashed hopes, the galling trade-offs. Each one has the potential to turn Democrat against Democrat.

A lot has been said about the future of the Republican party after Mr Trump. But his exit is a no less disruptive event for the Democrats. The urgency of beating him has kept their unstable compound of factions together in recent years. Without him, they are at liberty to squabble. A truly cynical Republican would not dispute Mr Trump’s election loss at all, but shoo him out, the better to hasten the coming Democratic feuds.

As for Joe Biden, no one really expects him to come up with anything that resembles a policy agenda. Yet, when it comes to the culture wars, Ganesh suggests that the struggle is not between left and right, but exists within the Democratic Party itself. 

If this year has thrown up a lesson beyond the coronavirus pandemic, it is that a — perhaps the — culture war burns within the left, not between left and right. On one side are liberals who define justice as equality before the law. On the other are those who see this republican ideal as a sham, preferring group rights along ethnic and gender lines instead. Whether or not to “defund the police” is but a detail in this argument over what it means to be progressive. It is roiling the internal politics of newspapers, universities and publishing houses. It threatened to afflict the Democratic party during the summer of protest. In the end, the mission to defeat Mr Trump helped to preserve discipline. The party cannot count on him beyond January.

Without Trump, Ganesh suggests, the Democratic Party will need to decide whether it is for free and open expression or whether it prefers to shut down opposing viewpoints. That is, whether it will follow the principles of classical liberalism or will veer toward the mindless radicalism of the Squad.

It is too much to suggest they will come to miss president Trump. But there is no dodging the fact that he has done their party management for them for four years, serving as the most effective Democratic whip imaginable. Without him, Mr Biden is left to choose which side of his fractious party to let down. It has never been clear whether his election spells the restoration of pre-2016 liberalism or an opening for the real left. To see both camps frolic in the capital of late is to sense that one faces grievous disappointment. 


Sam L. said...

Democrat food fight!!!!! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

The Left will fight to hold off the Leftiers, who/which will fight the Leftier Than Thou, who will then have to fight off the Even-MORE without end, Amen.
Couldn't happen to nicer people, but then, they don't DO "nice".

Anonymous said...

And Nancy is the "adult" in the room.


Anonymous said...

The assumption that the Democratic party is sustained by anti-Trumpism is not valid. They will find new targets for their radicalism easily and will create new dangers which only they can save us from, on a weekly basis. The most obvious targets are the evil white male population with their guns and so forth. You will see this through the coming crucifixion of Kyle Rittenhouse and the on going deification of the drug addict/criminal Floyd. It is only a matter of time before false flag operations,"for the public good" or by some other framework, are trotted out. I don't see the will to resist anywhere and most certainly not in the Republican party. With a small handful of exceptions, Nunes and Jordan for example, they are the party of cowards, greedy and indifferent. The alphabet agency's are running the show and they have no idea what they are doing and thanks to a generation of out of control spending, their actual rule will be short. I fear we will all come to understand personally, the old adage, " When your belly is full, you have many problems. When your belly is empty, you only have one problem." At that point all these political squabbles will be irrelevant. The relevant dialog will become, "How may we survive this ?".