Musings from outside the mainstream.
I don’t often agree with Charles Krauthammer, he’s another one of those caustic conservative commentators whose points are well made, but whose columns are little more than intellectual one-upmanship. He seldom offers a solution, because winning the argument is more important.
However, in a recent column when he described the immediate reaction to a Trump Twitter as “an epidemic of constitutional chin tugging and civil libertarian hair pulling,” I couldn’t help thinking of all my liberal friends who are shocked, dismayed and utterly worked up at the prospect of a Trump Presidency. I also remember something a wise man told me in my youth; “Choose your battles, son.”
Though I share many concerns with most on the Left, as Krauthammer points out, the response so far by the media and the 52% who voted for Hillary Clinton is only playing into Trump’s hands. Trump embodies the “any PR is good PR” manta as well as anyone. And he’s not showing any sign of slowing down.
So maybe it needs to be spelled out. My dear left-leaning friends, the current tactics of your pointed outrage hasn’t moved the needle in the direction you’re hoping. In fact, for the last year, it’s gone in the opposite direction. It’s time for a different course of action.
The first action item is to drop the alarmism already. Drop it on any social media that you use and in real time. And then, stop acting afraid and act. Most definitely, write your congress men and women and communicate your stances on issues. Donate to charities and volunteer.
But more than anything become more active in the Democratic Party. We need new leaders. We need leaders like Bernie Sanders who are not beholden to large donors and corporate interests. And yet we need that type of idealist to also be less of a maverick. Sanders’ poor showing with the super-delegates wasn’t just because the party machinery was stacked against him from the beginning; it was also because he didn’t build relationships beforehand.
This election brought out into the open the schism between the upper levels of the party and the rank and file. Thomas Frank has been documenting this disconnect for years in Salon and The Wall Street Journal, (now compiled nicely in his book Listen Liberal,) and it doesn’t seem to be sinking in. So listen up.
In a nutshell, Frank points to the new “professional class” that Barak Obama leaned so heavily on in the beginning of his first term. The professional class, Frank postulates, “Listen mainly to one another.” “They are not required to heed voices from below their circle of expertise.”
This is one explanation for the division in the Democratic ranks, and why so many did not line up enthusiastically behind Hillary Clinton, but it could also explain why Obama struggled to play nice with Republican rivals. There is a dismissiveness inherent in the professional class that they just don’t see in themselves. It has lead to Democrats forgetting that a big part of politics is selling people on an idea, not just repeating themselves because they know better.
And look what that hath wrought. Again.
Part of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he doesn’t speak down to his constituents. George Bush was plain spoken in small groups, yet ridiculed for it. I keep hoping the Democrats will learn. I keep hoping they’ll begin to mentor and support new leaders who can be articulate and yet not forget about the common man through preferred association with social elites.
So, as Frank suggest in the sub-title of his book, let’s make the Democratic Party the party of the people again. Because if we don’t, we’re going to keep going through these cycles. First we had George Bush in the office instead of Albert Gore. And now a reality TV star. I don’t want to imagine what will be next.