Saturday, November 04, 2017

over at The National Review, Jonah Goldberg proposes that political dysfunction is not a zero-sum game and that maybe BOTH the DNC and RNC are in shambles and bereft of anything other than an "at least we're not THEM" quips while displaying similar internal collapse

A little surprised that a piece like this would appear at The National Review but it appeared at The National Review so ...

Donna Brazile, the longtime high-ranking Democratic functionary, was made interim chair of the party shortly before the 2016 election in the wake of revelations that the previous chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, seemed to be playing favorites in the primaries, tilting the scales toward Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders. In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Hacks, Brazile reports that Wasserman Schultz wasn’t simply partial toward Clinton. She was in fact Clinton’s vassal.
It’s widely known that Barack Obama left the Democratic party in shambles. On his watch, the party lost more than 1,000 elective offices at the federal, state, and local levels. One underreported reason for this is that Obama opted to create a parallel institution out of his 2012 campaign outfit, Organizing for America. The renamed Organizing for Action siphoned money and the president’s energies from the DNC.
Brazile reports that the party was so hollowed out with debt that Hillary Clinton essentially scooped it up in a distress sale. Wasserman Schultz cut a deal with the Clinton campaign in which Clinton would raise millions ostensibly for the party, particularly at the state level. But those funds were sluiced back into the Clinton campaign coffers in Brooklyn, and the campaign extracted de facto control of the party’s messaging and hiring. Team Clinton mocked Sanders as a paranoid dotard for claiming that the Democratic primary system was rigged against him. As it happens, his paranoia didn’t go far enough.
It seems axiomatic that any party weak enough to be taken over by Hillary Clinton is not in good health.
Today, the Democratic party’s sole unifying principle is opposition to Donald Trump. Given Trump’s standing in the polls, that may be good enough for the 2018 midterm elections. But when it comes to ideas about governing, all of the passion is reserved for two things.
First, there is Sanders’ idea of “socialism,” which is really an unworkable stew of banalities and nostrums stemming from a nostalgic idea of a “Scandinavian model” that no longer exists (if it ever did). It’s as if Fabian socialists created an Epcot Center exhibit of Sweden in the 1950s, and irascible tour guide Bernie rides by in a trolley, shouting: “This could be us!”
The second source of passion is the angry, sanctimony-besotted identity politics popular on college campuses and a handful of left-wing websites. The DNC’s data-services manager recently sent out an email soliciting applications for new hires in the IT department. She cautioned that she wasn’t looking for any “cisgender straight white males.”
If you want to know how Trump was elected, ask yourself how a laid-off, cisgender, straight, white, male coal miner who went back to community college to learn computers might react to that.
Again, you wouldn’t be crazy for thinking the GOP is like a runaway fire at a soiled-diaper-reclamation center. And I’m sure I’ll have opportunities in the near future to expand on that.
But the important point is that dysfunction isn’t zero-sum. Right now, the best argument Republicans have is “we’re not Democrats,” and the best argument Democrats have is “we’re not Republicans.” Like two punch-drunk pugilists leaning on each other in the twelfth round, if one falls, the other may well fall too.
Everywhere else in America today, disrupters — Uber, Amazon, etc. — are dismantling established institutions. Perhaps both political parties are the next institutions to crumble under creative destruction. Or maybe not. But if it happens, no one can say they didn’t have it coming.

I don't think the differences between the RNC and DNC are as big as partisans for either one of them may insist on believing those differences to be.  It's not just about platforms on paper but about internal dynamics.  Just because the RNC has been in some sense hijacked by loyalists to an entitled American aristocratic clan full of scabrous people doesn't mean the DNC hasn't had the same problem.  Whether the clan is called Bush or Trump or Clinton or Kennedy or Reagan having a set of de facto lords running a house of government doesn't seem like the most encouraging thing to observe about the United States.  At least the house of lords has been official somewhere else. 

A year ago there were authors at Slate so certain that it was impossible for Trump to actually win they took pains to write about how creepy it would be should Trump ever actually win.  We had a comedian or two confident that Trump just could not possibly win.

But the best the two parties have managed to say about each other is "have you seen them!?"  That's not really good enough.  "I'm with her" was not good enough.  "Make America Great Again" isn't good enough, either.  Who says America is going to be great again?  Who says America already is great?  The sorts of people for whom it's already great and who can command gigantic speaking fees to share how it's already great in America.  If the best the big two parties can do is to complain about the graft and intellectual dishonesty of the other set of plutocrats both parties are sick, potentially beyond cure.

We couldn't have gotten to the point where Trump has the executive branch if there hadn't been a serious collapse of cohesion and vision in both of the parties.  At this point it seems improbable that, any slogans chanted withstanding, that anybody in the plutocratic ranks will actually get locked up.  We're in an era in which tech and aggregating media giants can basically say for the record their loyalty is to their own internal policies first and foremost but that might be best designated as a separate post



Cal of Chelcice said...

It's odd and a sign of brainless partisanship that Goldberg accuses Sanders of the Scandinavian model. Real socialists have criticized Sanders for propping up the warfare state, even using police as mayor of Burlington to crack down on protesters, agitating against a US factory producing for Central American juntas. He represents an almost left-wing in the Democratic party. The fact he is mistaken for radical reflects more on an American sense of imperial entitlement, as if it just makes sense that the US straddles the globe.

I'm not surprised a conservative journal would offer a dismal reading of the Republican party. Conservative pundits had an ideological doceticism for awhile, willing to float off the page of the institutional mechanisms that makes it viable.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I got the impression that Sanders was basically just a New Deal throwback rather than a socialist, even if people on the right who set themselves against him would like to cast him as a socialist.

That last sentence came off as a little bit garbled. :) Can you unpack what the implications of political Docetism would be? Over the last twenty years I got the impression most self-identifying conservatives were that in name only and that the war on terror and Gulf War 2 showed that if the decision was between actually restraining the reach of government or expanding its role to maintain an internationalist empire that the empire won pretty much every time. if that's what you mean by ideological Docetism then I think I get it, but I'm not sure if that's what you meant by it.

cal said...

What I meant was that conservatives style themselves as a political group, even a faction, yet many, in conversation, are willing to discount organization. Have you met people who say they are conservative, but not Republican, because they're too self-serving, corrupt, not conservative enough etc. They consistently vote Republican, down the line, but refuse to identify with the machinery of a party. I remember a few years back seeing that 30-35% of US population was Democrat and 20-23% was Republican. Those numbers don't reflect voting patterns though.

All I meant was that conservative commentators have tended to disparage the party or the party system without recognizing that they only have political weight because of the Republican party. If what you believe is just commonsense, then it's hard to think one needs to organize and work hard at it, even if that's what actually happens. I'm just not surprised at a conservative commentator predicting the collapse of the parties without an ounce of dread.