In the Age of Trump, Will Democrats Sell Out More, Or Less?
Since the Republicans got really crazy, life in some ways got easier for the Democrats. All they’ve had to do to keep 90 percent of their support every election season is point at crazy John Ashcroft and his fear of stone boobs, or human SNL skit Sarah Palin, or Rapture prognosticator Michele Bachmann, and a lot of their voters have been ready to run to the ballot box to vote blue, if only to keep the Supreme Court away from such people.
Everything became about beating Republicans. If you inhabit the dreary world of lefty media, you can’t help but be familiar with the phenomenon, because in the last decade or so it’s changed countless careers and taken over whole publications and TV channels.
A lot of media outlets became thinly-veiled proxies for the Democratic Party. They hammered Republicans for goofball transgressions large and small but soft-pedaled the darker developments on the Democratic side, like for instance the worsening surveillance issue or the failure to fight Wall Street corruption.
It’s not an accident that The Daily Show turned into the most trusted political news program in America during the Bush years. When the traditional lefty media became so convinced by the “lesser evil” argument that it lost its sense of humor about the Democratic Party, people had to flee to comedy shows for objective news.
Even worse, a lot of Democratic-leaning campaign reporters are to this day so convinced by the lesser evil argument that they go out of their way to sabotage/ridicule candidates who don’t fit their idea of a “credible” opponent for Republicans.
I’ve seen this countless times, usually with candidates like Dennis Kucinich who didn’t have a real chance of winning the Democratic nomination (although early 2004 frontrunner Howard Dean also fell into this category). Sanders, who was ludicrously called the Trump of the left by bloviating Meet the Press hack Chuck Todd last week, is another longshot type getting the royal treatment by “serious” pundits now.
But framing every single decision solely in terms of its utility in beating the Republicans leads to absurdities. Not every situation is a ballot with Ralph Nader on it.
The Democrats insisted they had to support the Iraq War in order to compete with Bush, but they ended up not competing with Bush anyway and supporting a crappy war that no sane person believed in. All it won Democratic voters in the end was a faster trip into Iraq, and the honor of having supported the war at the ballot box.
When the Democrats had a legitimate electoral threat in the Republicans to wave in front of their voters, they used that as currency to buy their voters’ indulgence as they deregulated Wall Street, widened the drug war, abandoned unions in favor of free-trade deals and other horrors, and vastly increased the prison population, among innumerable other things.
But now that the rival electoral threat is mostly gone, they want permission to take the whole primary season off so they can hoard their money for massive ad buys targeting swing votes in Tennessee or whatever. In other words, even though the road ahead is easier for them, they want increased latitude to take their core voters for granted.
The Democrats could take this godsend of a Trump situation and use it as an opportunity to finally have a healthy primary season debate about what they want to stand for in the future. But nah to that. They’ll probably just hoover donor cash and use press surrogates to bash progressives the way they always have. Trump or no Trump, if politicians don’t have to work for your vote, they won’t.