3.2.17

DOUBLE DOWN ON YOUR MARGINALIZATION.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson suggests that the Democrats fight the nomination of Judge Gorsuch as the way to enlarge the party's base.
Senate Democrats should use any and all means, including the filibuster, to block confirmation of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. They will almost surely fail. But sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war.

This is purely about politics. Republicans hold the presidency, majorities in the House and Senate, 33 governorships and total control of the legislatures in 32 states. If the Democratic Party is going to become relevant again outside of its coastal redoubts, it has to start winning some elections -- and turning the other cheek on this court fight is not the way to begin.
Seriously? It's precisely the antics of the denizens of those coastal redoubts that got Mr Trump elected in the first place.
Substantively, Mr Obama has been a failure, certainly overseas, but the two-lies-for-the-price-of-one Affordable Care Act and the non-stimulus stimulus, both enacted with the help of reconciliation, a filibuster-resistant Senate, and a few political favors to Nebraska, for good measure.

And the gentry leadership of the Democrat coalition has been little help to the masses rendered helpless by fifty years of the Great Society and Model Cities and all the other Good Intentions. "Somewhere along the way [Democrats] stopped fighting for the little guy and became the party of the smug, educated elites who look down on those with less education and deem them unable or unworthy of being able to make personal decisions for their own lives." Wishful thinking. There has, all the way back to Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson, been this strain of Four of Five Experts Agree, backed up by, inter alia, policy research demonstrating that a properly informed planner can produce Pareto-preferable outcomes.
It's precisely to those folks, though, that Mr Robinson wishes to speak.
The party's progressive base is angry and mobilized. Many Democrats are convinced that FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin decided the election. The very idea of a Trump presidency sparked vast, unprecedented demonstrations in Washington and other cities the day after the inauguration.

In the two weeks since, Trump has only piled outrage upon outrage, as far as progressives are concerned. He took the first steps toward building his ridiculous wall along the southern border, but with U.S. taxpayers' dollars, not Mexico's. He squelched government experts who work on climate change. He weakened the Affordable Care Act in the hope that it would begin to collapse, which would make it easier for Congress to kill it. He displayed comic ignorance of our history (somebody please tell him that Frederick Douglass has been dead since 1895). He signed executive orders banning entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, an action so appalling that huge crowds gathered at major airports in protest.

And Trump is just getting started. Democrats cannot even limit the damage, let alone reverse it, without more power than they have now.
Yes, but doubling down on the appeal to the base, who for now have the leisure time to protest, doesn't seem like the way to win new friends and influence new voters.
So what does the lower-income, white, evangelical from southwestern Ohio share with the upper-income moderate Democrat from outside Grand Rapids? The factors that led them to unite into a coalition to vote for Donald Trump were manifold: stagnant incomes, frustration with Washington, a sense of alienation from coastal elites, et cetera. This unity has created an identity-based voting bloc out of Trump’s white supporters in much the same way African-Americans have voted as a bloc for Democrats despite their disparate circumstances.
The way in which the organizers (as opposed to the participants, what little I saw of the day-after-the-inauguration march in Chicago looked like an excuse to get outside on a very warm January day) of the womens' marches got into their usual identity-politics silos probably isn't the best way to appeal to normals.
Trump’s voters have a point. They contend that political correctness is a cudgel used by the left only to silence the demographically undesirable (white, male, and rural). They chafe as the selfless members of law enforcement and the military are denigrated by the influential. They see their livelihoods choked off by regulation and they see their communities transformed by those who do not share their culture or values. What’s more, they are told that all these concerns and the associated sense of estrangement are bigotry for which they must be punished.

Trump tapped into this resentment, and it was remarkably successful. But make no mistake: this isn’t conservatism.
To Mr Robinson, however, it looks enough like conservative populism to propose a similar populist outreach.
Republicans made an all-out effort to stop the Affordable Care Act. Their motives were purely political; some GOP senators railed against policies they had favored in the past. Ultimately, they failed.  Obamacare became law.

But this losing battle gave tremendous energy and passion to the tea party movement -- which propelled Republicans to a sweeping victory in the 2010 midterm election. It is hard not to see an analogous situation on the Democratic side right now.

Democrats cannot stop Gorsuch from being confirmed. But they can hearten and animate the party's base by fighting this nomination tooth and nail, even if it means giving up some of the backslapping comity of the Senate cloakroom. They can inspire grass-roots activists to fight just as hard to win back state legislatures and governorships. They can help make 2018 a Democratic year.
Yes, that law, two lies for the price of one, converted the Democrats into a rump coastal party, an uneasy coalition of symbolic analysts, government employees, and dependents on the public purse.



A related article notes, Democrats are basically extinct in the South.  What Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan could not do, Barack Obama did.  And how, exactly, does Mr Robinson hope to reach out to people who might have left the Democrats for the Tea Party, or who didn't bother to vote at all, until Mr Trump spoke to them?

Good luck with that, suggests Kimberley Strassel.
The conservative tea-party phenomenon is overall one of the more successful political movements in modern American history. Even the left acknowledges it now. Still, every movement makes mistakes. The tea party—especially in its early years, and given its decentralized nature—has had its share, including [failed Delaware Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell.

By contrast, the entire concept of a progressive tea party is a mistake. It’s doomed at every level—because it is entirely premised on the O’Donnell model.

Consider the recent rallying cry of progressive [c.q.] star Markos Moulitsas. “The Tea Party didn’t really become a force until it started ousting Republicans it didn’t feel represented them,” he told the New York Times. “Democrats either need to feed, nurture and aggressively champion the resistance, or they need to get out of the way in favor of someone who will.”

Message: Get with our agenda, or be purged. The progressives showing up for protests and demanding Supreme Court filibusters are determined to move their party aggressively to the left. Any Democrat who does not sign up for their policies and their resistance will face a primary.

Perhaps we can forgive Mr. Moulitsas—and much of East and West Coast America—for thinking this is what happened on the right. Democrats never bothered to understand the right’s tea-party movement, and it shows.

The tea party erupted for a lot of reasons, but a big one was frustration with Washington business as usual. Activists in the main weren’t demanding the Republican Party become something new, or ultra-right-wing. They were demanding the party—beset at that time by logrolling, earmarks and corruption—simply hold true to its stated and longtime principles of free markets and limited government. It was a quest for a better-quality product, not a different one altogether.

That’s evidenced by where tea-party activists accomplished most of their successes. A few high-profile Senate missteps aside, activists targeted much of their fire on reliably conservative or gettable House districts, inhabited by lazy incumbents who cared mostly about staying in office. They focused on recruitment, and their new crop of reformers resulted in 2010 in one of the greatest incumbent turnovers in congressional history. Over the years, they have only gotten better at fielding and supporting winning candidates (see the 2014 Republican Senate takeover).

The Democrats’ problem is that all their reliably liberal states and districts are already occupied with good liberals, who take orders. Those members will joyfully boycott and filibuster and protest and obstruct. There will be no need for primaries.
Mr Robinson's insurgency is unlikely to turn out the way he wants.
The original tea party was about making conservatives in this center-right country act like conservatives again. The progressive tea party is about making Democrats in this center-right country act like Bernie Sanders. Have at it.
Perhaps, though, suggests Kevin Williamson for National Review, this new populist insurgency, if that's what it is, will be incompatible with its Democratic Party integument.
Democrats are in an awful position just now. Hillary Rodham Clinton was beaten by Donald Trump; Republicans control the Senate; Republicans control the House; Republicans are about to put an Antonin Scalia–style constitutionalist on the Supreme Court, a development made possible by the Democrats’ weak position in the Senate; Republicans control 34 of 50 governorships; Republicans control the great majority of state legislative houses. What, exactly, are the Democrats up to? Dressing up as vaginas and inviting Madonna to rile up the rubes with empty speeches in D.C. while the real power in the party — the public-sector unions — concentrate their fire on . . . Betsy DeVos, who believes that there should be some choice and accountability in public education.

What is the Democratic party? Is it a genuine political party, or is it simply an instrument of relatively well-off government workers who care about very little other than securing for themselves regular raises and comfortable pensions?

If I were a progressive [c.q.], I’d be curious about that.
Unprecedented times. Enjoy the turmoil.

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