The best thing about this holiday period is that it marks the end of a year unsurpassed in my lifetime for national awfulness. Trump, his supporters, and his enablers drowned 2017 in layer after layer of the raw sewage of hatefulness, cruel indifference, and shameful silence. They debased the Republic, hijacking it as a tool for their gratification. They treated the vulnerable like dirt, coddled bigotry, and ate away at the commitments we’ve made to ourselves and the world to be better than we’ve been, to work toward a more perfect union and a safer earth.
Let’s, then, ring in the new year, 2018, with the bell of enough’s enough. Let’s gather ourselves for battle, giving no quarter and expecting our adversaries to do their worst. Let’s press toward November recognizing that we will be the only authors of our salvation.
Figures I’ve seen from the exit polls in the Alabama election should give us some renewed hope in the capacity of the electorate to see through the propaganda to the truth about the modern Republican Party. Among the most telling data are these: Although white women overall favored Roy Moore over Doug Jones, when the evangelical women and the non-evangelical women are considered separately, the non-evangelical women overwhelmingly preferred Jones. Moreover, I’ve read, if the percentage of evangelical voters in Alabama were the same as the percentage nationwide, Jones would have taken the election by double digits. The Republican Party, lead by Trump, has alienated so many voters outside a cultish core that the probability of a rout in 2018 has increased substantially.
Ed Gillespie, routinely described by decent Republicans as one of their own who now has devolved through his campaign advertising into a nasty baiter of the fear-and-resentment vote in Virginia, is running a gubernatorial bid that should be recognized as the template for GOP candidacies in November 2018.
Democrats who think the most important fight now is between the Bernie and Hillary wings of their own party are dangerously mistaken. The most important fight now is the fight to rescue the republic from the domination of the GOP, because the GOP isn’t going to do anything to rid the country of Trump.
I’ve read tweets asserting that the Republicans are doomed in 2018 if they pass the tax cut bill, because the bill helps the billionaires of their donor class, but hurts ordinary Americans. This is naive. The GOP strategy for decades now has been to kowtow to the donor class, thereby opening the spigot for millions in campaign contributions then used to run low-road campaigns to get the fear-and-resentment vote to the polls to crush the party of the Others. I see no reason to conclude that this won’t work again, the Trump wildcard notwithstanding.
So the Democratic Party continues the Hatfields-and-McCoys internal feuding in the crucial runup to the November 2018 election. Liberals and progressives are behaving as if one or the other of the philosophies will win in 2018, and the only question is which one. Wrong!
The GOP strategy of using millions donated by high rollers to finance low-road campaigns stoking the fear and resentment of the white working class is likely to be just as potent as it has been for the past few decades, the Trump wildcard notwithstanding. The Democrats, at least, would be fools not to presume this and to prepare for it.
The stakes, of course, are far higher now than at any time in the past few decades. The GOP shows no inclination whatsoever to remove the boil on the Presidency, despite ever more dangerous words and actions by the Dear Leader. To rid the country of Trump, the Republic needs a slew of Democratic wins across the board in 2018.
The party must do three things pronto: 1. Develop a fundraising strategy not beholden to billionaires. 2. Craft a platform with solid proposals to improve the lives and prospects of America’s diverse working class. 3. Recruit and support candidates with real public presence and genuine enthusiasm for the platform.
It’s natural enough for the Clinton Brigades to defend her when she’s attacked, and she is being attacked again now for “rigging” the primaries against Bernie. Likewise, it’s natural for Bernie fans to bristle at this pushback from the Clinton Brigades.
The job for the DNC going forward, however, is to move on from this feud, focusing instead on building a party that is seen clearly by the electorate as the go-to alternative to the party owned by the Koch brothers and the Trumpians. The strongest possible showing in 2018 is not merely a party imperative, but a national imperative.
The DNC, then, must get its financial house in order pronto, bringing in whoever is necessary to ensure an effective system for appealing to small donors. The DNC must be a party of clear and compelling ideas focused on the interests of the country’s working stiffs of all colors, genders, and backgrounds. And the DNC must be about the business of recruiting a new generation of candidates who have the qualifications, public presence, and enthusiasm to bring folks to the polls.
Plenty of pundits have raised questions today about the political judgment of the Hill GOP in embracing a tax bill that benefits the wealthy, balloons the deficit, and offers less-than-overwhelming benefits to the working class. I’m not persuaded, however, that passing the bill will hurt GOP chances that much in 2018. The modern GOP formula for electoral success has been to raise campaign money from high-rollers, then use the contributions to run gloves-off campaigns appealing to the party’s white identity base, the most recent example of this being Gillespie’s low-road gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. I don’t see why the formula can’t work again in 2018. The tax legislation opens the spigots of the Koch brothers and the others in the donor class. Then the candidates move right, going all in with Trump.
As a lifelong Democrat and the son and grandson of Democrats, I would vote ordinarily in the Democratic primary for the candidate I thought closest to me politically. And I think it’s almost always a terrible idea to vote in the opposing party’s primary for a “weak” candidate you think your candidate can beat.
But in 2018, if the opportunity presents itself, I stand ready to vote in the Republican primary to boost the fortunes of any moderate candidates who come out squarely against the inevitable Trump-Bannon candidates. And I would encourage any Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary for candidates who can attract the votes of moderate Republicans and independents against these Trump-Bannon Republicans in the general election.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
The Hill leadership on both sides of the aisle, their willful deafness to calls for impeachment quite palpable, must have concluded that the country is going to be okay until early 2019, when the outcome of the 2018 election either has extended the GOP stranglehold on power or has made Nancy Pelosi Speaker again and maybe handed the Democrats a Senate majority.
Between now and the election, Trump will continue to be Trump. The Hill GOP will be interested only in tax cuts. The Hill Democrats will moan about this or that, but do nothing, figuring Trump is destroying the electoral prospects of the GOP.
So, the betting is that the generals will keep Trump from doing anything really stupid internationally, and anything he does domestically can be fixed later.
And if Mueller and his Untouchables come up with something that can’t be ignored, so be it.
That’s the pathetic truth, my fellow Americans. There is no real prospect of salvation for quite awhile. Time to find a good therapist.