[Some More] Advice for the Democrats on the Presidential Campaign

by Daniel A. Kaufman

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Now that we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, I trust that it is clear why Donald Trump must not be re-elected.  The lack of curiosity; the tic-like self-promotion; the persecution complex; the weird logorrhea; the juvenile baiting and pissing contests; the fundamental lack of any substantial conviction…  One might have thought it obvious that these are never desirable traits in a Chief Executive, but the 2016 election demonstrated that for a good number of people, this is not obvious. Surely, though, the current crisis and Trump’s disastrous handling of it will render things in sharp relief, right? Focus our attention; help us to drop all the irrelevancies and distractions and devote ourselves to defeating this awful man?

Perhaps not.  Having failed to heed my earlier advice to the Democrats to stash AOC and the rest of the “squad” in an undisclosed location for an indefinite period of time, AOC came out with a video suggesting that people were racist for failing to frequent Chinese restaurants, just as coronavirus fears in the United States were beginning to surge.  Not long after, she posted a message on Twitter saying that people shouldn’t go to restaurants at all. Parsing this required a hermeneutical analysis, beyond the abilities of most.  And despite my warning to my fellow partymen and women to drop our obsession with identity politics, Democratic activists all over social media are  fiercely debating whether it is racist to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus.  The other day during a press conference, a reporter tried lobbing this one at Trump, who promptly, predictably (proverbially) smashed her face in with it. Now, just two days later, Trump’s poll numbers are up.  Earlier in the campaign, Elizabeth Warren swore that her Education Secretary would be vetted and ultimately chosen by, a transgender child, only to top herself not long after by saying that  transwomen of color are the backbone of democracy.  Later, when her campaign collapsed under the collective weight of these and other such sublime pronouncements, the usual suspects in my profession (i.e. the woke brigade) insisted loudly, across social media, that her failure obviously was due to misogyny. Alas, they hardly were the only ones.

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It appears that my party is preparing itself, once again, to march headlong into a humiliating and catastrophic defeat; one that will be a thousandfold more humiliating and catastrophic than the last one, in light of the circumstances. It was bad enough that we couldn’t beat Trump in 2016, given the extent to which his venality, vulgarity, and degeneracy were not just publicly documented but on constant display, but imagine the shame in losing to him now, during a deadly pandemic whose effects will be all the worse because of his inept bumbling and dissembling and posturing, early on. It would be like losing a fistfight with a 90 year old man hooked up to an oxygen tank, barely capable of standing up with the aid of a walker.  The party won’t survive it.

As a public service, then, I offer this second round of advice to the Democrats on the ongoing presidential campaign.  As was the case last time, this is hardnosed political advice, not expressions of agreement or disagreement with any particular set of policies. The only purpose for engaging in electoral politics is to win elections so that one can govern.  In this case, that means defeating Trump and taking the presidency away from the Republicans.  The following represent my thoughts as to some of the things we must do (and not do) if we are to achieve that goal.

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(1) Immediately cease all discussions of the ways in which various characterizations of the coronavirus are racist.

(2) If anyone starts talking about “queering” the coronavirus or any other such thing, sequester them straightaway in the undisclosed location you should have put AOC and the “squad” in.

(3) Put the global warming, climate change (or whatever it’s called now) stuff on hold.  People are in no mood for it.  When times are good, as they have been for decades, people crave a little apocalypticism for much the same reason that we enjoy a good horror movie.  Fear is titillating … so long as it is hypothetical.  But when one actually is in extremis, the enthusiasm for this sort of thing evaporates quickly.

(4)  Find some way to get rid of Bernie Sanders, and don’t let him come back.  Also, tell the so-called “Bernie Bros” to f*#k off.  They are an unpleasant bunch and are far more interested in harassing people and landing sick burns than actually voting (as the primaries have demonstrated).

(5)  Don’t talk about anything, right now, except for how best to deal with the coronavirus and its myriad and catastrophic secondary and tertiary effects.  Do so entirely in a positive vein of common cause. Do not, under any circumstances, try to score partisan points off of it or use it as an excuse to try and ram through unrelated or only distantly related spending projects.  People’s patience for that sort of thing is thin, generally and paper thin right now.

(6)  Do not get in Trump’s way of making himself look terrible.  Do not give people any reason to be sympathetic with him.  Do not lampoon him as he lurches from one disastrous press conference to the next.  Let him spend the next months talking and gesticulating himself into an electoral defeat.

(7)  Take this opportunity to reset and reconsider our commitments.  I especially would reconsider where we stand with regard to identity politics and globalization as these strike me as being two significant, current commitments that are likely to age poorly in the wake of this pandemic.

72 comments

  1. “Parsing this required a hermeneutical analysis, beyond the abilities of most.”

    Hardly. The phrase “take-out” resolves the issue nicely. Also, the three days between the messages is a significant amount of time in a situation like this. Trump and a significant number of his base are stone racists and this resonates with them.

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      1. @AOC
        : “People are literally not patroning Chinese restaurants, they’re not patroning Asian restaurants because of just straight up racism around the Coronavirus.

        How would any reasonable take not include both sit down and take-out? I get you don’t like her but there simply isn’t an obvious contradiction.

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        1. I am not alleging any kind of formal contradiction, and there doesn’t need to be one to point out the political stupidity in calling out racism in restaurant choices, during a pandemic, .or the hilarity of the juxtaposition between the two statements. And yes, I think she, the “squad” and that whole wing of the party are going to continue to kill us electorally. We cannot win national elections from a handful of major metro areas, something I’ve said multiple times, and I am hardly the only one.

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  2. Dan,
    I agree.

    The left wing of the Democratic Party has long been under a peculiar delusion.* They remember the period ’32 to ’46, during which the New Deal introduced policies, programs, and conceptions of national government that permanently altered the nature of government and national community, and our assumptions concerning these. (Actually, the New deal coalition collapsed in 1938, when Southern Democrats began aligning with Republicans due to FDR’s rumored support of an anti-lynching bill, as well as his mishandling of the Recession of ’37.) But because of this 14 year single party rule and the sweeping changes it initially brought about, and its leadership during WWII, the left developed an understanding that somehow the Democratic Party just is the leading party of the government, with Republicans gaining control only when Democratic leadership fails to lean leftward far enough to appeal to the majority of Americans (who, the New Deal success assures them, are progressive in their inclinations unless scared or misled by corporate-sponsored media).

    Whatever truth to this, it is fundamentally disconnected from any practical politics or realistic perception of the place of politics in American life and how this has evolved, and continues to evolve in adaptation to new economic conditions, new technologies, transforming demographics – just about everything needing accounting in order to develop a winning political strategy. Yet this delusion led to the Chicago riots of 1968, and the in-party subversion of Hubert Humphrey; the disastrous McGovern campaign of ’72; the loss of the House in ’94, and the truly odd complaints of the Warren feminists, the Bernie Bros, and those who demanded demographic diversity on debate stages, regardless of actual voter numbers or practical fund raising. The Party left wing seems convinced that to win the Party is to win the election. This completely ignores the necessity for actually persuading voters. And it’s not surprising that Democratic leftists sometimes come across as arrogant and as treating voters as somehow sheep that are waiting to be herded in the right direction, rather than as people whose hearts and mind need winning over.

    I’m a progressive, to the left of you, Dan; but I’m also a New Deal Democrat, not in the sense of thinking that thanks to the New Deal the world was transformed in the middle ’30s (it was transformed, but by many forces, and in many conflicting directions); but rather in the sense that I recognize that era was a special moment allowing practical men of action, including FDR, to take risks, make mistakes, innovate, work to persuade the majority of American people to join into the same economy, the same community, the same world of opportunity. There was still work to be done going beyond that era, and there is still wok to do today going forward. But what will be accomplished will be so in the same way that has been accomplished was accomplished – through persuasion, negotiation, compromise, hard work – not by tweeting snotty remarks. Leave that to Trump, his fans eat it up – and get very little else from him. But if we bring substance in word and deed, if we listen to people and respond to there express needs and wants (rather than what we think they should want or need whether they know it or not), we Democrats could in time become a true majority party.

    But we will never be The Party of the US Government. There isn’t such, and there should not be such. A working democracy can’t develop efficiently if it is guided by a single vision.

    Sorry for the ‘speechifying’ here. But recent comments by Bernie Bros – not only the trolls, but supposedly reputable journalist-commentators – has been disconcerting. I’m not entirely happy with Biden either – he may be too old, and he doesn’t have any especially interesting vision for the country. But many people seem to like him, the Democratic electorate has cast their lot with him, and his tendency to gaffe may actually give him an advantage over Orange Blatherskite.. And certainly he’ll appoint advisors with credentials and actually listen to them. At any rate, the Left of the Party has this choice: Biden with all his real or imagined faults, including possibly commanding a moribund centrist administration; or a corrupt narcissistic crypto-fascist with republican sycophants hoping to undo all progress since the ’30s, especially in the justice and judicial systems.

    I am reminded here of the German Communists in 1933. They had convinced themselves that conditions would have to get worse before they could offer anything better, and also hoped to find some way to use the Nazis to achieve some dmage to the governmental system as a whole. In the Reichstag, when Hindenburg requested a new Chancellor, they voted for Hitler. In a few short years,, they were all dead, exiled, or in hiding.,
    – _-
    * The Party leadership was also effected by this delusion, in none-too-healthy ways. Largely, its legacy has been to paralyze them; when it has been possible to move forward dramatically, they have waffled and pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory. Pelosi has proven one of the most able politicians of her generation; but she is no Mitch McConnell. Sometimes you have to go for the throat; and Trump’s success partly depends on the secret wish of people in some quarters to see this done. I know a Democrat could do this, and still also offer substance – FDR did. I’m kind of hoping Biden can – again his tendency to gaffe may actually achieve this. At any rate, I have $25 riding on it!

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    1. This is exactly right EJ. The Democrats had a natural majority in the country until they abandoned their broad, labor-grounded coalition, and embraced identity politics in the 1960’s. The result was to give the Republicans a natural majority instead, with Northern Democrats in the de-industrializing parts of the country — aka the Rust Belt — going over to the Republicans, who had already become much stronger as a result of Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

      The only time the Democrats were ever competitive nationally again was when they moved back to the center. Bill Clinton was the most successful president the Democrats have had since FDR, and Obama, despite all the nonsense thrown at him about being a “leftist” by the Republicans, was a centrist too.

      And before the usual suspects start whinging about Hillary Clinton, she didn’t lose because she was a centrist. She lost because she was Hillary Clinton.

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      1. Embraced identity politics in the 1960s — that seems to me about 20 years too early. What sorts of policies did you have in mind.

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        1. Perhaps early, but certainly not 20 years early. What I was trying to get at was not just the rise of the New Left, but the decision to follow the McGovernite wing of the party, which was the expression of an unsustainable coalition. Hunter S. Thompson actually talks about the unsustainability of the post 68 left wing coalition quite a bit in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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          1. I voted for McGovern. His politics were essentially anti-war. His negative income tax proposal was straight out of Milton Friedman and was later incorporated in essence by both Nixon and Reagan. That’s hardly leftist even by historical standards. So, best you find another straw man to illustrate your point about the failure of leftism in US politics. And I love HST, but, for Christsakes, do not use him as a particularly relevant source mapping actual political movements in the 20th century.

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          2. It’s hardly just me who will point to McGovern as the time when the Democrats’ focus and priorities began to shift. And it’s hardly just i who have pointed out that *demonstrably*, this is when Democratic fortunes in national politics began to decline. The point is not about McGovern himself, but rather about the change in the Democratic tent that followed.

            Finally, with regard to HST, he was unusual for being incredibly honest and willing to criticize his own side. In that way he was much like Orwell. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas remains one of the strongest critiques *both* of the Nixonian Right and the post 68 Left. And McGovern himself described HST’s book on the campaign as being the truest account of the 72 election ever produced.

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  3. Sure, having this country be led by a narcissistic ignoramus is dangerous and, in the midst of a pandemic, catastrophic, but I am not sure that replacing him with a warmongering psychopath who is apparently in the grips of incipient dementia would be that much of an improvement.

    (p.s. Biden is also completely on board with this transgenderist nonsense, having written the foreward to Sarah McBride’s transgenderist memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different.)

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    1. “The Democrats had a natural majority in the country until they abandoned their broad, labor-grounded coalition, and embraced identity politics in the 1960’s.”

      Can we be real? By “identity politics” we mean ending segregation and Jim Crow which started with a series of actions at the state and federal level. Truman desegregated the military in the 1940s. Brown was the result of Supreme Court decisions that began in the late 1930s. When I was born California enforced racial and religious covenants on deeds and racial laws on marriage (ended by the CA SC in the late 1940s). Continuing segregation wasn’t feasible.

      There was no “natural majority” and the white working class has always put race and religion over class (check out the 1928 maps). It took the Great Depression and MacArthur to give the Dems the majorities needed to do the New Deal. Timing was key here. Unlike the situation in 2008 when we had the automatic stabilizers from the New Deal and the Great Society, things were really desperate in 1932, desperate enough to cause folks to lose their fear of change.

      (It took till 1937 for a Tea Party like reaction to form. Obama never had the room or a chance. FDR had a solid majority for years and a solid team – Perkins, etc. while O had the Senate -barely – for a few months at best, neo-liberals like Geithner – his fault – and solid opposition from the start.)

      Critical to this is that from the 1938 Conservative Manifesto on conservatism took on a decided Leninist strategy financed by a few wealthy folks and growing revolutionary cadres (Buckley and his merry band of ex-reds, Buchanan, Rove, Stone, Ailes, etc.).

      With Gingrich the Republican Party became an insurrectionist party bent on power by any means possible. The Democrats have never really figured that out or how to deal with it.

      Consider this: Had Clinton won and the Congress remained Republican McConnell would be happy to let however many of us die if his calculus worked out to a Republican advantage in 2020 (check out Ron Jonhson’s shrugging off quite a few deaths).

      There are a lot of moving parts here – ridiculous ideological/theological anti-communism, brain dead labor leaders, etc. So called identity politics are the least of them and on earth two – the one where Johnson didn’t go into Vietnam and Nixon didn’t have a chance to commit treason – things are likely quite different.

      BTW, while I sympathize with academics that have to deal with some of the crazies on the left (as I have had to do) we should remember Chef’s words – “There’s a time and place for everything and that’s college.”

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      1. The decision of the Democrats to go with the McGovernite wing of the party very clearly undermined their capacity to put together a large, sustainable political coalition. I am hardly the first to note that. And it has nothing to do with the traditional civil rights movement which predates the rise of the New Left, and its transformation of Democratic politics.

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    2. Vote for Biden and you get a team of competent civil servants and advisors in the executive. Vote for Trump and you get Trump. Vote for a third party and you get Trump. Don’t vote and you get Trump.

      Trump and many of his fans think the President is, or ought to be, some sort of elected monarch. That was never the idea, and never the practical reality.

      Leftists sometimes make this mistaken assumption as well. The Constitution explicitly limits the powers of the Presidency, and the best Presidents – and even most of the bad ones – gather a competent team about them in order to guide the executive. Trump gathers sycophants as corrupt as himself.

      So do you want a team of competent civil servants who may occasionally make mistakes? Or do want the Trump cult, which by nature *is* a mistake. It’s your vote.

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      1. Beg to differ. Trump is finished, not for ideological reasons, but rather economic ones as a result of his “Chinese” virus. He knows it; you can see it at his news conferences. The Dems could run Howdy Doody and win the Executive Branch at this point but may mange to screw it up. To my mind, the composition of the Congress and (IMO) the need for to change the comp of Congress as well as the need for a viable third party are more important than exaggerated arguments about what motivated the electorate 50 years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thomas Jones,
          Can’t disagree that the composition of Congress is very important. However, I just don’t see Trump as quite knocked out of it yet. We’ll see. As for third parties, I just don’t see that happening. Even if a viable third party were to develop, what would happen is that one of the current major parties would collapse, and voters would still be left with a two-party politics. That just seems to be how Americans want their government, and always have.

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          1. ej, there isn’t two-party politics in the US now, nor has there been for decades except in name only. That’s largely a result of how the electoral branches are funded, not only nationally, but also locally. There is no reason why a nation of close to 350 million can’t support a three party system. Once one gets past Trump’s deflection and distraction it is clear that he is intentionally or unwittingly making the case that big business must solve our current economic and health crisis.

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          2. Well, we’ll have to disagree on our reading of history here. While both parties are internally fractured (although right now the Republican party is the Trumpist Party whether they like it or not). that has always been true. It is also true that in all but a handful of national elections voters read their the choice as a binary between two parties.

            If Trump is making any case about anything, it is certainly unwittingly 0 he doesn’t care enough to make any cases. If big business steps in to solve any problems – as it may well do in the current virus crisis, it will be because Trump’s administration is incapable of leadership, and congressional Republicans won’t go beyond the limit of Trump’s interest in himself.

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      2. Vote for Biden and you get the same corrupt incompetent civil servants recruited from Wall Street and Goldman Sachs that advised Obama on his 2009 bailout that screwed over the American worker, deregulated the banks further, and massively redistributed wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy on an unprecedented scale. That economic destruction paved the way for massive resentment resulting in….Trump!

        Biden is a dotard just like Trump, and his policies are almost identical. Look at his voting record. Biden lies just as much as Trump about everything. His lie about getting arrested in South Africa for supporting the protest against apartheid is a knee-slapping howler on the same level as anything said by Trump.

        Come on John, you’re smarter than that.

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        1. Joe Smith
          You’ve ignored the point I made about competent team of civil servants vs a collection of corrupt sycophants around Trump.

          You’re also ignoring the fact that the next President gets to appoint two supreme Court Justices. I take it you want this to be Trump?

          Biden has a a plurality of delegates. He’s the presumptive nominee. I don’t want Trump still in office next year. If you do vote as you choose. Or don’t vote, in which case who cares how unhappy you are?

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  4. Since you’re so concerned about Trump’s re-election (as am I), the snarkiness of your attacks on the leftwing of the Democratic Party seems weird. It is possible to criticize AOC and Sanders without snark and without sending them to some metaphoric equivalent of Siberia. If I were a 18 year old leftwing voter and read your post, it would turn me off voting for a moderate Democrat like Biden entirely. I’m almost 74, not 18, but while as you point out, more Democrats are mainstream than leftwing, leftwing Democrats make up a sizeable portion of the electorate and should be motivated to vote: snark motivates no one.

    By the way, it’s worthwhile distinguishing between the woke Democrats and the Bernie Democrats. The Bernie Democrats are New Deal radicals and you’ve probably seen the many articles by woke Democrats attacking Bernie for being just another “white straight male”. The woke Democrats and the Bernie Democrats do not like each other much and should not be confused.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My snark is partly in response to the Bernie Boys’ “I’m taking my toys and going home to have a good pouty sulk, if you don’t vote for my guy” attitude. They are essentially spoilers and are part of the reason we got Trump the first time around. The party is better off chucking them and working to get more suburban, middle class women back into the fold.

      I love how the “OK Boomer” crowd can dish it out, but not take a little back. Oh, and they aren’t children. They are the same age as the people who fought and won WWII. My message to them is “Grow the fuck up and act it, if you want any of us to take you remotely seriously.”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You are correct to distinguish between the Bernies and the “Woke” gang, though the line can be drawn too tightly as well. Both, however, render it impossible for the Democrats to put together an electorally broad coalition.

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      1. The job of responsible Democrats is to convince Sanders supporters and the woke crowd to vote for Biden, not because they love Bernie or because Biden is another Lincoln or even another Obama, but because it’s the only way to get rid of Trump. I’ve seen it done in other countries and I don’t see why it can’t be done with a good political education campaign in the U.S.

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        1. I completely disagree. That’s backwards. It’s not up to the winner to beg to the loser.

          It’s the Bernies whose responsibility it is to be good losers, and to be mature and rational enough to understand that the point of the whole damned exercise is to defeat Trump. The only way to defeat Trump is to get those Rust Belt and exurban votes back, and they ain’t gonna’ do it with Green New Deals and Trans Bathrooms.

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          1. I agree about the trans bathrooms, but politics is about dealing with realities and as you point out, the Sanders supporters did not vote for Hillary last time (or many didn’t) and probably will not vote for Biden this time and if Biden wants to win, he probably will have to convince the left to vote for him. That does not mean he has to endorse trans bathrooms or praise Cuba in Florida, but he will have to show them that it’s him or Trump. Maybe that should be his slogan: “Me or Trump: you decide”.

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          2. I agree with you that it is difficult to know which type of coalition will be the strongest against Trump. I guess that I am in favor more of trying to put back together something more like the pre-McGovern coalition; i.e. one that will have a broad appeal across the regions of the country, rather than just super shore-up the base of the existing coalition. The problem is we need electoral wins in Wisconsin and Michigan. We don’t need more hipsters in Brooklyn.

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          3. If I may add one more comment to our conversation, our difference seems to be about whether the Democrats should woo the rust-belt Trump supporters (yes, I know it’s a stereotype) or the radical left.

            I don’t live in the U.S. and so I may be too far away to understand what’s happening, but it seems to me that the rust-belt Trump supporters have found their Peron in Trump, their populist caudillo, to whom they will be true, even if, in Trump’s own phrase, he murders someone on Fifth Avenue. In general, they cannot and will not be wooed by Biden.

            I agree that the extreme Woke crowd, those who consider Sanders “just another straight white man” and see all “cis-gender white men” as “binary genocidal fascists” will never vote for Biden even if he runs against Hitler himself. However, the Sanders supporters, who have a more traditional leftwing view of politics than the Woke crowd (that’s why I distinguish between them), can be wooed and will vote for Biden if he makes the right ritual nods in their direction and if it is emphasized by the Biden campaign that Biden (like him or not and I don’t like him) is the only real alternative to Trump.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. You do hit upon the key question, and I won’t deny that (a) my take is a gamble; (b) my take reflects my priors. Remember that I use to be a conservative, years ago.

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          5. No, that is definitely NOT the whole point of the exercise. What is the point of voting for the democrats if they are going to continue the same policies as Trump? He is simply continuing many of the same policies as Obama, who in turn continued many of the policies of Bush.

            – Who hollowed out the rust belt in the first place? Clinton and his trade agreements
            – Who helped continue Clinton and Bush’s legacy of massive tax breaks for the wealthy, bailouts for corporations, deregulation of banks and Wall St, and the mass transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy? Obama Admin.
            – Who first built the concentration camps for undocumented migrants? Obama Admin
            – Who kept Gitmo open? Obama Admin
            – Who agreed to give Trump funding for his wall? (hint: it wasn’t Mexico)
            – Who agreed to give Trump all his Federal Judge appointments?
            – Who agreed to give Trump even more money for the military?
            – Who just agreed to give $4 trillion to the Federal Reserve to doll out to large corporations because of the pandemic?

            You just don’t seem to understand how your own country actually works. There is ONE political party. It goes by two names. Any differences between the names are trivial at this point. The one party is mostly funded by the same class of establishment donors who don’t give a shit about people in the rust belt. Those people been shafted by both party names.

            You already went with your corrupt war mongering corporate establishment Democrat candidate in 2016. How did that work out for you? Now you want to try it again?

            Hey, it’s your third world country, so who am I to judge. I just know I saw hundreds of thousands of people risk their health and lives to come out to vote for Joe Biden and against medicare for all, in the middle of a fucking pandemic! Apparently, they’d rather die than upset the status quo.

            Surely Americans are the stupidest people on earth.

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          1. No, it’s not crazy.

            My model is the 1989 Chilean presidential election, the first after the Pinochet dictatorship. The right nominated Hernan Buchi, who had been Pinochet’s finance minister and clearly represented the continuation of Pinochetismo.
            The moderate opposition nominated Patricio Aylwin, a moderate, actually a conservative in his temperament (much like you), who had originally supported the 1973 coup and the Pinochet dictatorship (and thus, was personally anathema to the left), but with time became opposed to it.

            Although Aylwin never said explicitly that “it’s me or Pinochet”, his campaign managed to convince radicals like myself to vote for him because they made it at least implicitly clear that they were the only real alternative to Pinochet. Even the far left like the Communist Party and the MIR (Left Revolutionary Movement) ended up supporting Aylwin, who won.

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      1. You’re right that the line between the Sanders people and the squad is not clear and in fact, AOC supports Sanders, while the real hardcore Woke crowd see Sanders as “just another straight white man”. AOC is not a hardline Woke person herself: she’s half in the Sanders camp and half in the woke camp.

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  5. Hi Dan,

    Thank you for your enlightened political diatribe, but I’m afraid your advice will not do the trick, even if it were heeded. The Democrats are increasingly coming under the influence of a radical, reckless, destructive of the American ideal, Marxist cabal festering in the large metropolitan communities. (I understand where they are coming from, both socially and philosophically, but their remedies are irrational.)

    From the perspective of the ‘average’ American, the Dems have additional systemic problems. They cry wolf at every turn, describing every disagreement with Trump in apocalyptic terms. The Republicans are now outpolling the Democrats in generic surveys:

    The Russian collusion narrative was pushed in the final days of the 2016 campaign – this made me to finally decide at the last moment to vote for the Dumb Donald against the Crooked Hillary. Less than 2 months after the inauguration Mueller was appointed in a process orchestrated by James Comey. For 2+ years the presidency was held hostage to weekly sensational leaks in order to neutralize Trump, apparently all for nothing.

    The Democrats were also soon outraged and shocked by the alleged high school and college sexual misconduct of judge Brett Kavanaugh only for him to be confirmed to the Supreme Court on a mostly party line vote.

    Then Pelosi was snookered by Schiff and the squad and forced into starting an Impeachment Inquiry, again all for naught. Someone has pointed out that the government may have thus been distracted from the brewing coronavirus epidemic in China.

    The American people seem to be aware, even as they are focusing on things more important in their lives than politics, that the Democrats are delirious with partisan politics and confused. They appear unable to come up with acceptable solutions to real problems, of which there are many. Green New Deal, Medicare for All, Free College and Debt Forgiveness! Open Borders.

    So, being irredeemably deplorable, I will not be voting for Biden in November.

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  6. I love Bernie in the same way I love Michael Harrington. I’ve been a political socialist since the ’70’s and before I even understood what the ramifications of that position meant for most of us. But Bernie is a non-factor as a candidate. He will be a historical footnote like Henry A Wallace. May I suggest that none of the candidates running will see more than one term. Hence, the need to turn one’s attention to the legislative branch of government. The more you allow the two party system to distract you from their machinations, the more you will participate in silly academic discussions. (Feel certain HST would agree with me.)

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    1. Yes, I understand, and there will always be a limit to how much we can agree, because I am a good ways to the right of you, politically. As for the rest, you are, of course, correct, that the legislature is far more important. Even governors races — it would make an enormous difference if we could change some of these R governors with D governors; indeed, much bigger of a difference.

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  7. I don’t think that what you are seeing here as a serious failing of the democratic party will really be that much of a problem. You know what they say about April – “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.” One month from now America’s problem with Covid 19 will have utterly overwhelmed the Trump Administration’s facade of competence. The democrats will rally behind Biden, and Trump will find it impossible to escape being associated with all that has gone wrong.

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      1. That video with Warren about the 9 yr. old trans person was … hilarious. It was clearly a lie – no, she wasn’t going to let a 9 yr. old chose her Education Secretary – but it was a very special lie, because it would be even worse if it were true.

        Now, the odd thing is that she seems to believe she’s getting away with it. I know how my classmates and me would have reacted when we were 17. We would be falling off our chairs, stupefied with laughter. Students would shout “Missus, I want to have a say too! Please, let me vet the Education Secretary!” The head teacher would take very strict disciplinary measures, but we wouldn’t care, because we all were very left-wing and disrespectful of authority. Here was an opportunity we weren’t going to miss.

        What the f!ck happened with the Democrats in the US? The video shows a person who’s so mindbogglingly weird that my classmates and me wouldn’t have trusted her with the school mascot.

        I find the discussion on this thread interesting: strategies, history, support, McGovern etc. But I feel it misses the point. You may not like Sanders or his policies, but there’s some sort of integrity about him (as much as a politician can afford, at least). But if a person like Warren can make it through the ranks and become a likely candidate, your organization is mortally ill. How could she deal with Putin if she loses the plot before an audience of teenagers? The idea that the Democrats can define a strategy to beat Trump is a dream, I’m afraid.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. couvent2104,
          Warren actually started well, and I had hopes for her; however progressive her agenda, I thought she could pivot to the center as the campaign progressed. Then Bernie entered the race, and everything changed for her, and she changed with it. She went over the deep end trying to run to the left of Bernie, hoping to siphon off some of his support. She failed to understand his followers, who have largely kept the faith since ’16. Then, as you say, she got weird. Pundits lauded her knock-down of Bloomberg in the debates; but outside the bubble, she sounded petty and mean to a fellow anti-Trumpist. Not ‘an uppity woman,’ but just mean-spirited and failing to think through how beneficial it could be to have Bloomberg along for the ride. (The whole “no big money donors” litmus test from progressives is ridiculous. If you wanna win, you do what you gotta do.) At any rate, I don’t know what led Warren down this course. She’s unlikely to talk about it without considerable spin (and the Hilary feminists have already pretty much spun it for her). that’s unfortunate. She is unlikely to endorse even the winning candidate, and unlike Sanders, she could never mount a third-party effort. Unless she acquires a more positive record in the senate, she will exit as a footnote.

          However, I don’t think identity politics will sink the Democrats this time around. Biden will p[lay to left social concerns – the democrats always have – but he’s not the kind to get caught up in them. Indeed, a lot of left Democrats will vote with a sour look on their faces, knowing this. But as I’ve said, if they don’t vote for Biden, no matter how sour the taste, they get Trump. That’s just the nature of the two-party beast. (Trump, a lifelong Democrat until the party got a Black man elected, understood that; and he knew he could never manipulate the Dems beyond a certain point. So when it was time to play the system around the presidency, he ran as a Republican.)

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  8. s.wallerstein
    ” our difference seems to be about whether the Democrats should woo the rust-belt Trump supporters (…) but it seems to me that the rust-belt Trump supporters have found their Peron in Trump, their populist caudillo” – no; Biden’s victory over Bernie,while also predictably winning over African Americans, was really won in the suburbs. A year and a half ago, I predicted that this election would be determined in the suburbs, and right now the course is following that prediction.

    Dan,
    also, take heart in this: in ’16, many people were ashamed to admit to pollsters that they were voting for Trump (as his people knew); this year there will probably be independents Republicans (esp. women) who. in the present toxic environment, will be hesitant to admit they are not voting for Trump. If so, the polls could be masking a potential Biden landslide.

    Charles Justice,
    The polls indicate that Republicans and independents are listening to Trump’s lies about miracle cures just around the corner; the question – his gamble – is how long he can hold out against the scientific facts of research, treatment, prevention. I hope, with you, not very long.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was aware and paying some attention during the 68 campaign and especially the 72 primaries. In 68 there was no McGovernite wing of the party, the general flavor of both the party and the zeitgeist being fairly progressive. (Bobby Kennedy and Gene McCarthy in addition to McGovern) Humphrey ended up with the establishment support and nomination within the party, though he would have lost to Kennedy who had the people’s hearts, and lost decisively in the general election. During the 68 election process Wallave had already begun siphoning traditionally democratic support away, as an independent, in the deep South, taking five or six states’ electoral votes. The factor with the hidden churn during the 72 democratic primary process was McGovern’s (mainly) reform campaign directed at reducing the establishment power (Daley, etc.) within the party and increasing the influence of actual primary votes upon electoral college votes. This reform, though mostly successful, produced a rift and lasting resentment within the party’s establishment core, which was not healed by November and resulted in many Democrats not voting for the party nominee. McGovern’s stance was not particularly divisive nor was it identity-driven in any sense. The basic themes were anti-war and economic disparity (echoing a far worse condition 50 years later). I do not buy the rooted-in-McGovernite theory concerning the present fractured mess in the party, whether Hunter Thompson or others think so or not. I would move forward a decade in thinking about these roots. Reagan had an undercurrent of insensitivity towards the domestic social reality and elements of world culture, along with a harkening backwards to ‘greatness’ aesthetic which has colored Republicanism ever since, and has been the underlying engine of the divisiveness in the country. It is correct that Clinton’s opportunistic and Obama’s pragmatic centrism have proven to be the winning stratagems for democratic victory… but one wonders at present how many sensible centrisats are left to respond to this. And Biden lacks CLinton’s or Obama’s charisma and depth.
    I’ll go along with Dan’s recommendations in outline, but there needs to be some sort of inclusion of Bernie’s sentiments in the sauce, because economic disparity is a core issue.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. In a modern state with a robust media apparatus, there is literally no world in which you’ll lack examples of people saying stuff you don’t like you in your coalition, while your political opposition and clickbaity journalism will scour the earth for grievance-stoking material. If your mental diet is dense with those sweetmeats, so much the worse for intellectual health.

    The centrist candidate has all but clinched the nomination. AOC’s statement about Chinese take-out or Warren’s about a trans kid won’t collectively, metonymically, or howeverly have any effect on the outcome of the next election. People certainly won’t be looking back at the Warren candidacy and think, “Ah if only for that obscure episode, over a month after her drop in the polls, where people briefly harped on this gaffe before moving onto the next news cycle, she certainly would’ve clinched the nomination!” These statements may grieve you, but the vast majority of people either haven’t heard about them or have already forgotten them. You’re essentially saying “Don’t amplify these, Democrats!” while implicitly amplifying them. “DO NOT THINK ABOUT A BIG PINK ELEPHANT!”

    We all certainly think our minutia is the most important minutia, but when it comes down to it, the most predictive factors don’t have to do with the minutia or with our particular ideological hangups. Is the economy in a good state and is the person an incumbent? McGovern and Mondale, and any other Democrat in their place, never stood a chance in this respect, even ignoring the ground-level gaffes of their day, like McGovern’s Eagleton affair or Mondale’s disastrous and hardly liberal proposal to raise taxes to balance the budget.

    Meanwhile the losses of a centrist nominee in Hillary is brushed aside as on account of her just being a bad candidate. Well, if the loss of other centrists like Carter, Gore, and Kerry can likewise be brushed aside as the faults of a bad candidate, your argument for the robustness of centrism looks a lot less certain. My intuition is that centrism is a moving target, a brand that can bump up a candidate when a large enough constituency is looking for perceived safety and stability, and that this largely plays out on a highly superficial level for most voters.

    Al’s right that the real, consequential event in the Democratic “identity politics” of the sixties was their embrace of Civil Rights, a shift you’ve spoken positively about. That lead to the break-up of the Democratic coalition that had dominated American politics for decades based off a tenuous truce with Dixecrats and suppression of the black electorate. A huge demographic and ideological sorting followed. Ezra Klein has a lucid account of this and the ensuing polarizations in his latest book. Those were the trade-offs and these were the consequences. I’d certainly like to see rally-able forces of history that align closely with me, that affirm me with their “might have been’s”, that were unjustly hampered by a stable coalition I can arbitrarily blame for every defeat, but then I’d just be playing a different kind of identity politics.

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    1. I have already addressed the civil rights question, so this is not responsive. And Ezra Klein could be one of the worst, least credible analysts I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

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      1. You’ve talked about the traditional civil rights movement as a foil to modern civil rights discourse, a totally separate question. As for where you’ve had any substantive engagement with the historical consensus on how civil rights affected the Democratic coalition, I imagine that would be easy for you to pull up, should it exist, but I’m not seeing it. Cherry-picking one sentence mentioning Klein and treating him like Alex Jones to avoid everything else might fly on Twitter, but is a transparent dodge otherwise.

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        1. I have no idea what you are talking about. The civil rights movement clearly, demonstrably, precedes the Democratic shift to the McGovernite side of the party. And accusations of “dodging” are just that. Accusations.

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          1. I voted for McGovern myself and as I recall, he was a traditional liberal democrat who opposed the War in Viet Nam, much like Robert Kennedy. McGovern had nothing to do with Woke politics or with identity politics in general. That’s even a generational thing: he was born in 1922. I don’t think that he was any more left wing than Robert Kennedy.
            People like you, Dan, whose adult experience of Democratic presidents is of Clinton and Obama probably don’t recall how liberal mainstream Democrats were in the 60’s (LBJ and the Great Society).

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I will repeat as I said before that it is the McGovernite wing of the party I am talking about, as opposed to the constituencies of some of the other candidates.

            I am very well aware of how centrist and mainstream the Democrats used to be. The early 1970’s was when that increasingly ceased to be the case. Indeed that’s the whole point of my reference to the post 68 party.

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          3. Yeah, the deeper, more consequential sea change (Democrats throwing in with black civil rights) preceded and partly influenced the transitory one (the McGovern campaign). A curious observation! The former also clearly, demonstrably kicked off the break-up of the New Deal Democratic coalition. All this, of course, being further exacerbated by Vietnam. Whether McGovern got the nomination in ’72 or not, this was happening. He certainly wasn’t a Goldwater proudly embraced by prominent nominees of his party in future. He’s a boogeyman we’re all supposed to tell our children not to name three times while staring in the mirror. Grandmother’s say his ghost still haunts the buffets of old hotels, bumping into strangers and apologizing, unrecognized. Legend has it if you apologize simultaneously you’re cursed for life.

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    1. Danny Descartes,
      If you want to get Trump re-elected, you’ll have to do better than this.

      Come November, you have a choice between Biden, who appears to learn from his mistakes, or Trump who *cannot* learn from his mistakes (since he says he never makes mistakes). Or you can sit home and pout.

      If you’re shilling for Bernie, that ship has already sailed.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I am not shilling for Sanders. I simply refuse to vote for anyone who not just voted for the invasion of Iraq, not just helped to lie us into the invasion, but actually scolded people for not having supported a “preventative war”. Geez. Do you not understand that Biden vigorously and viciously defended a war of aggression, what Robert H. Jackson called the Supreme Crime? And he hasn’t learned from his mistakes. That’s just a grotesque joke. He supported the Libyan Intervention, which made that country into a very bloody basket case. And he to this day supports regime change in Syria. Furthermore, Biden has not come clean about his support for the Iraq War. He has plagiarized Clinton’s disingenuous defense, that he voted for the authorization of the use of force in Iraq simply to force Hussein to give the inspectors access to all the questionable sites, implying that he did support the subsequent war and occupation. That’s just an outright lie. Months after the invasion and while Bremer was starting to do everything he could to destroy what was left of Iraqi Society, Biden was STILL supporting Bush der Zweite and chiding his fellow Democrats for not marching in lockstep behind the Warmonger in Chief. I refuse to vote for this psychopath.

    Also, as I previously mentioned, Biden is fully on board with this transgenderist lunacy, which means that he thinks it’s perfectly normal for “women” to have penises. That’s just rabid insanity.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I won’t be voting for Trump, but if you tell me that refusing to vote for a warmongering psychopath in the grips of incipient dementia puts me beyond the reach of reason, I’ll just laugh.

        I’d rather suffer through a pandemic than impose yet another war criminal on the world.

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    1. Hi, Danny

      Biden has baggage? Lie back and think of England. People will have to eat shit whatever route we take right now. If you choose Trump’s (even by inaction), remember that he voiced support for the Iraq invasion (in his lazy, no-investment way), and as president nearly threw us into a war with Iran, a much more dangerous adversary than Saddam’s Iraq. Don’t think that we won’t have to be dealing with the consequences in future. He also continually talks up the value of looting the Middle East for oil. I’m sorry we’re having to puppet an also-ran who’s made some seriously bad choices. But Dan is right that that is simply a ridiculous, no-question decision.

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    2. Biden is a liar, he’s an opportunist who will say anything he feels he has to say to get himself elected, he’s an intellectual lightweight, he supported the criminal invasion of Iraq, he shows signs of cognitive decline. I can find very few admirable qualities in Biden as a person or as a statesman. He was lucky enough to be vice-president of Barack Obama, who while not my idol, has some notable virtues, virtues which Biden lacks.

      However, he is the only alternative to Trump. Do I really have to mention all of Trump’s negative qualities here?
      If you don’t vote for Biden, you’re helping Trump to get re-elected. It’s as simple as that.

      I don’t think I need to point out that the President names the Supreme Court Justices and that Biden will name pro-choices candidates to the Supreme Court as Democrats always do, that Biden’s cabinet will undoubtedly be staffed with competent experts, that Biden believes in climate change, unlike Trump, that he hopefully will rejoin the Europeans in trying to peacefully control Iranian nuclear arms development and that Biden probably will renew the detente with Cuba that Obama began and which seemed to be working until Trump pulled the plug.

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  12. “I have no idea what you are talking about. The civil rights movement clearly, demonstrably, precedes the Democratic shift to the McGovernite side of the party.”

    I’m not sure what the point is. Nobody is claiming otherwise – the civil rights movement began in the 19th century and continues to this day – two steps forward/one step back, two steps forward/three steps back, etc. The Democrats lost the south and some to much of the white working class between 1948 and 1964. 1968 was close. Vietnam and Nixon’s treason was likely dispositive (look it up). The 1972 new left/ McGovern thing was a function of Vietnam and the draft and a one off. The Democratic Party moved to the right presidentially with Carter in 1976 – Carter governed to the right of his congressional majority which was New Deal liberalish not New Leftish. Kennedy was a New Deal liberal and lost to the neo-liberal Carter in 1980. Mondale and Ducakis were New Deal liberals. Their losses traumaized the party and opened the way for Third Way Democrats. Blue Dogs were a pain. The story in the Democratic Party (and Republican for that matter) was the rise of the neo-liberal/neo-conservative consensus from the mid-1970s on that gave us Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons, McCain, Gore, Romney, and Obama. The current shift to the left in the Party (actually a return to New Deal ideas) is a function of the failures of that consensus as is the pseudo-populist shift on the right – 1960s new leftism is long dead, as are many of its actors (I believe Hayden supported Clinton in 2016. Last time I saw him, it was over environmental and animal welfare issues. The Revolution wasn’t on the agenda.). College is a poor place to form concepts about the real world – most of those folks doing political drama are now suburban dentists.

    “There’s a time and a place for everything and that’s college.” Chef.

    “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph.”

    Dan, what you haven’t considered is how dependent we are on contingency e.g. Ted Kennedy didn’t drink and drive that night. There are no “natural permanent coalitions” – all human arrangements have a shelf life. Attitudes based on experiences in early adulthood tend to persist over time and then time runs out. My childhood neighbor was an old guy who was in the Colorado National Guard and was at Ludlow in 1914. His experiences made him strongly pro-labor, pro New Deal and he was still angry over Ludlow in the 1950s.

    My cohort’s parents were folks who had seriously experienced the Great Depression and there were those around whom one didn’t dare mention Hoover and Republicans. Actions on segregation from the 1940s court and Executive decisions to mid-1960s Civil Rights legislation were signaling the end for the New Deal coalition which depended on tolerating segregation. By the late 1960s folks who had experienced the worst of the GD were aging out – the last New Deal-like Congress was 1965 – 1966 and even it couldn’t repeal 14b. Taft-Hartley worked its slo-mo poison pills on the labor movement starting in the 1950s. By the time of the final party re-consolidation in 1994 a person who was 30 – 40 in 1932 would have been 92 – 102 – i.e. likely dead.

    I was long out of university by the time you matriculated but it seems you have deeply internalized a dated conservative just-so story of our recent past that doesn’t match up with my lived experience (including tear gas and billy clubs) and I remember Truman firing MacArthur. That and your inability to grasp the importance of the 2008 financial crisis, the current failure of our Constitution, and the radical and revolutionary nature of the Conservative Movement/Republican Party.

    Re: AOC. Back in the day New York sent Vito Marcantonio to the Congress and Los Angeles sent Gus Hawkins. Folks represent their districts. One reason to not have faith in the possibility of your hoped for coalition is the abysmal quality of the folks sent to the Congress from those parts of the country.

    It would seem to me that fairness dictates differentiating between the concept of a GND and the right wing spin put on a memo a now former AOC staffer came up with. Circumstances will change the nature of the 2020 election. It is still the case that who prevails will be existential – the coming recession will slow global warming a tad but basically we’re still likely screwed.

    “I especially would reconsider where we stand with regard to identity politics and globalization as these strike me as being two significant, current commitments that are likely to age poorly in the wake of this pandemic.”

    I don’t get all the hating on “identity.” Civil rights wasn’t a one and done way back in the sixties. Reaction never gives up. At this point there is incontrovertible evidence that as soon as there is an opening Republicans will do as much Jim Crow as they can get away with. As soon as the racist Shelby County Decision came down Red states began introducing legislation designed to limit minority voting. Jeb Bush did a massive voter purge that dwarfed the idiot Nader vote prior to the 2000 election designed to limit minority voting. There are tapes and e-mails. I would love it if we could move beyond identity and I would also love a pony.

    Fortress America isn’t going to be a thing. We need more international standards not less. We certainly need an international convention on wildlife and food (the Chinese don’t eat Pandas so they how to do it). This should be a Jungle-like moment for the world. We got the FDA because of the way food was processed here back in the day. Nations have rules around mad cow disease. It’s time to generalize this world wide. If you want to play in the global sand box, you will clean up your act internally.

    What has aged poorly was the curious and evergreen Republican notions that pro-cyclical tax and rate cuts and firing the pandemic directorate on the NSC (yea small government!) were good ideas (I went to mostly cash awhile back, yea me!). Oh, and all those stories about her e-mails.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I don’t get all the hating on identity.”

      = = = =

      Given the amount I’ve written on this and done dialogues on over at BloggingHeads, if you don’t understand where I am coming from by now, I doubt you ever will.

      And as for your later parts, I believe that one of the bits of fallout of this crisis will be a return to a more national focus with less unrestrained globalization. Not because of immigration and porous borders making it very easy pandemics to spread — though this alone would be a good reason — but because the crisis has made us realize how dangerous it is to outsource all one’s industry and manufacturing to third world and second world countries.

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  13. Dan,

    “(1) Immediately cease all discussions of the ways in which various characterizations of the coronavirus are racist.”

    Agreed. But few elected Democrats are doing this. And most people have become enured to this and won’t be casting their ballot for or against anyone based on this.

    “(2) If anyone starts talking about “queering” the coronavirus or any other such thing, sequester them straightaway in the undisclosed location you should have put AOC and the “squad” in.”

    I’ve never heard about this, and I follow politics closely.

    “(3) Put the global warming, climate change (or whatever it’s called now) stuff on hold. People are in no mood for it. When times are good, as they have been for decades, people crave a little apocalypticism for much the same reason that we enjoy a good horror movie. Fear is titillating … so long as it is hypothetical. But when one actually is in extremis, the enthusiasm for this sort of thing evaporates quickly.”

    Agreed.

    “(4) Find some way to get rid of Bernie Sanders, and don’t let him come back. Also, tell the so-called “Bernie Bros” to f*#k off. They are an unpleasant bunch and are far more interested in harassing people and landing sick burns than actually voting (as the primaries have demonstrated).”

    Not sure why they should hide Bernie Sanders, who was the front runner for most of the primary campaign up until two weeks ago. He was the only candidate that polls consistently showed could beat Trump. His policies are popular and have influenced the right-wing Democrats to some degree, at least in rhetoric.

    The “Bernie Bro” thing is a myth, which you probably got from watching CNN, MSNBC or even Fox News. Supporters of Bernie are not “harassing” anyone anymore than the other candidates’ supporters were.

    “(5) Don’t talk about anything, right now, except for how best to deal with the coronavirus and its myriad and catastrophic secondary and tertiary effects. Do so entirely in a positive vein of common cause. Do not, under any circumstances, try to score partisan points off of it or use it as an excuse to try and ram through unrelated or only distantly related spending projects. People’s patience for that sort of thing is thin, generally and paper thin right now.”

    Bernie is doing just that: doing livestream videos on how to deal with the pandemic. Biden is still figuring out how to turn on a computer.

    “(6) Do not get in Trump’s way of making himself look terrible. Do not give people any reason to be sympathetic with him. Do not lampoon him as he lurches from one disastrous press conference to the next. Let him spend the next months talking and gesticulating himself into an electoral defeat.”

    Even if the Democrats did all that, there is absolutely no way that Joe Biden is going to defeat Donald Trump. I made that prediction here months ago. Biden has dementia and sounds almost exactly like Trump now. Which he may as well be, since his policies are almost identical, given his history in office. The DNC rigged the primary this time around just as they did (and admitted as much) in 2016. So when Bernie Sanders became too popular and the front runner this time, the DNC stepped in and made sure everyone fell in line behind Biden, the 4th place candidate, something unprecedented in party history. The DNC’s connections in the MSM dutifully ramped up their smears and lies against Sanders. And with the voting fiascos in the swing states, the voter roll purges, the shutting down of over 700 polling stations in Texas located right in the most poor, youthful, and ethnic districts, the long line ups at colleges to discourage young people, the mysterious disconnect between what the exit polls showed and the actual results, and the DNC’s marching orders to go out and vote, against the advice of the Center for Disease Control, it’s not difficult to evince what machinations are at work. Yet, despite the obvious fixing, or maybe because of it, young people failed to come out for Sanders in sufficient numbers.

    It’s now clear though that the DNC wants Biden, and have put all their eggs in his basket, knowing full well he won’t win the Presidency. The MSM fawns over him and makes sure they never ask him any tough questions, like they do with Sanders. But then, they’d rather lose to Trump than let Bernie Sanders become POTUS. He is a threat to the establishment (who fund both parties).

    “(7) Take this opportunity to reset and reconsider our commitments. I especially would reconsider where we stand with regard to identity politics and globalization as these strike me as being two significant, current commitments that are likely to age poorly in the wake of this pandemic.”

    Agreed. Everything else seems to be on hold now.

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  14. So ignoring all this Joesmith nonsense…

    Dan, you talk up your love of Hunter S. Thompson. I’m a Louisville man with a passing familiarity with the guy, so I’m curious. Have you read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail? And if so, how much do you remember? Because the notion of marshaling HST to play up McGovern as a boogeyman is an odd proposition. He had an anti-establishment cynicism that was reluctant to hope, but hoped anyway and pushed his chips in. Obviously this wasn’t due to woke politics. Hunter drops the N-bomb in the first pages and he gets the appeal of George Wallace, even if he ultimately rejects the Wallace phenomenon. As Wallerstein relates, McGovern’s platform didn’t adhere to the kind of wokeness you’re projecting back on it. So what then? What does this flag represent? I can only imagine Hunter spitting bile on someone using him to encourage a rightward turn in the Democratic party.

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    1. Of course I’ve read it, and I was not marshaling HST against McGovern. HST strongly supported him,.

      I invoked HST in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with regard to the Left turning into an unsustainable coalition, about which the book has a lot to say.

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      1. My impression of Vegas was more a commentary on the counterculture than on the American Left at large or the Democratic coalition. The Hell’s Angels turning on the SDS wasn’t exactly an intra-Left clash, for instance. He gets more into that commentary in Campaign Trail, and it falls into an antiestablishment independent vein.

        So yeah, he chides the naivete and fecklessness of the Timothy Leary cohort, but the “acid” in “Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion” lobbed against McGovern was chosen for the sound, having no basis in reality. While I doubt that countercultural conflation made a decisive difference (I don’t see any of the Democrats winning that election), it surely sunk him further, a self-fulfilling prophecy the centrist wing of the party (who had come up with the AAA phrase) used to shore themselves up. Humphrey even had a laugh with Nixon about working to knee-cap McGovern.

        But the breakup of the Democratic coalition was already underway. Even if we just look at presidential contests, which aren’t as telling as the legislature, the bigger drop was between Johnson and Humphrey, which, my guess is, would’ve been bigger had Wallace not run. The most consequential change here was the Democratic Party alienating its southern wing by embracing civil rights and the subsequent passing of CR legislation. Vietnam just turned into a second body-blow. There’s an alternate timeline where Republicans embraced the CR identification too (a ton of them voted for it), but ideologically, they took the Goldwater route and siphoned off Democratic defectors as the parties became less and less ideologically mixed.

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        1. Listen, I’m willing to grant that it is possible that the crackup of the traditional liberal coalition was inevitable. But it is by no means obvious that this is the case. There is room for disagreement on this.

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        2. It would have been nice if we hadn’t stopped teaching history and civics a few decades ago.

          “But the breakup of the Democratic coalition was already underway.”

          And that since 1938 when FDR and the New Deal suffered a triple defeat – the 1937 recession stemming from his succumbing to Republican pressure to balance the budget, the failure of his plan to deal with a reactionary supreme Court, and the failure of his attempt to replace certain conservative Democrats in the 1938 primaries.

          The results of the 1938 election put together a majority coalition of conservative (and racist) Democrats and Republicans. The next liberal Congress wouldn’t happen until 1965 and that one lasted just one cycle. In 1946 Republicans won majorities in both houses and with the cooperation of conservative (and racist) southern Democrats were able to over-ride Truman’s veto of Taft-Hartley (which law was the beginning of the end for labor as a coherent political force).

          There is a straight line from the 1938 Conservative Manifesto to Donald Trump that goes through “God and Man at Yale,” the Goldwater nomination, and the Gingrich Revolution. Recall the scene in “Patton” when he says “I read your book (referencing Rommel). Well, if Lenin and Trotsky are watching, they are saying the same thing (interested folks might want to check out the number of ex-Reds in the founding period of Movement Conservatism).

          Muskie had an ACU rating of 0 as did Humphrey and McGovern – had either Muskie or Humphrey prevailed they also would have been tarred with the same “leftist” meme. The election would have been closer with either one but I can’t see all those Wallace voters voting for either. Muskie was taken out with a Republican “dirty trick.”

          Recall that in 1968 with Humphrey heading the ticket, only Texas voted Democratic, the other southern states going for Wallace or Nixon. (And remember the Dixiecrat walkout in 1948 was spurred by the Democratic Party adopting a Civil Rights plank in its platform that year. The effort to adopt it was led by Humphrey. There is no way the south was going to vote for him.)

          Another point. The interior west sending Democrats to Congress back then was an artifact of Populism and Free Silver. As with the Great Depression, folks who formed their voting habits back in the day were aging out of the population.

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