On Sunday’s Meet the Press, NY Times columnist Tom “I can’t believe people still take me seriously” Friedman suggested that “maybe the (Republican Party) just needs to crash and burn. This version of the Republican Party needs to die so out of the ashes, just as a new Democratic Party came out of the post-McGovern, post-Dukakis era, we will get a… sane Republican Party.”
Such are the near-daily daydreams of today’s Democratic establishment and their useful pawns in the media (see here, here, here, and here) who gleefully rub their hands together imagining one-party domination of the world’s greatest republic. For most Americans the thought is a nightmare, though for Friedman, a man who repeatedly lauds Chinese despotism, it’s just par for the course.
This is not to say that those who predict or, like Friedman, encourage a Republican civil war are wrong. Conservatives recognize that on major areas of policy the GOP’s internal divide is large — much larger following a Donald Trump campaign than prior to it — and potentially unsustainable within a coherent single organization.
But in their audacious reveries, full of the many petty and not-so-petty tyrannies they might impose on a once-free nation as the Republican Party descends into chaotic soul-searching, Democrats are missing something very important: They’re likely to face their own civil war as well.
And if a Democrat resides in the White House, especially a Democrat as unpopular as Hillary Clinton is, their own chaos is likely, despite the media’s best efforts to cover for them, to be at least as messy, at least as public, and at least as internally destructive to their party as anything the GOP will suffer.
Between Donald Trump’s flamboyant personality, astounding statements past and present, and mastery of “earned media” and the “mainstream” media’s plain desire to grease Hillary’s ungraceful skid into the White House by making Donald Trump the center of attention — something he has been too narcissistic to realize was hurting him — you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the millions of Americans, mostly a mix of naïve idealistic unemployed youth and cynical give-me-other-people’s-stuff underemployed adults, who spent most of the campaign season “feeling the Bern.”
Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters feel as if the Democratic National Committee rigged their primary process against him. Because they did. The repulsive Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the first WikiLeaks revelation pointing to this fact. If DNC leaders know what’s good for them, they’ll force interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile out over the second such revelation. (When pressed on the issue, Ms. Brazile sounded like a criminal who before answering a detective’s question asks, “So what exactly do you have on me?” Also note that Brazile when asked by Megyn Kelly how she received a Democratic townhall debate question in advance responded “I did not receive any questions from CNN,” which does not answer the question she was asked.)
Bernie has announced to the world that he “will be vigorously in opposition” to government action, including laws or policies supported by Hillary Clinton, which are not sufficiently leftist. Much of what Sanders wants is indeed in direct opposition to the interests of Hillary Clinton’s major shareholders at Goldman Sachs.
In addition to Hillary’s Bernie Sanders problem, radical Senator Elizabeth “really, I’m Cherokee” Warren, who has a strong following among the furthest-left part of the Democratic Party base and was pushed by many of that ilk to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, waited until June to endorse Clinton, no doubt angering the entitled Queen of Chappaqua. That’s just a preview, Hillary. Wait until you see the actual movie.
Warren’s views on economic policy, the (over-)regulation of business, the inherent evil of profit-making enterprises, in short her entire “you didn’t build that” mindset, roughly mirrors that of Sanders. The combination of the two will drag along some of the Senate’s other most liberal members, at least those who come from safe seats and/or aren’t up for re-election in 2018.
A particular problem for Clinton might arise when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. Of course, much depends on which party controls the Senate in January, but even if Democrats take a majority, Hillary might be in the awkward position of having to pick a further-left-than-desired nominee to gain the Sanders-Warren wing’s support — and therefore be unable to overcome a Republican filibuster, at least without a “nuclear option” involving changing the Senate rules — or a further-right-than-desired nominee to garner the support of enough Republicans to gain confirmation. The latter scenario could plausibly be better politics and more easily accomplished by Clinton than the former. But the havoc it would wreak within the Democratic Party would be, in the words of my 10-year-old daughter, epic.
Opposition to much of the Clinton agenda will have fervent support from a vocal minority of the Democratic base, including many who supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein for president, who believe that “The Progressive Case For Hillary Clinton Isn’t Much of a Case At All.” Like Trump supporters, these most ideological members of their party would rather die fighting (politically speaking) than compromise. Like Trump supporters, they believe that when it comes to the two or three issues they care most deeply about, the party should either come around to their views or be destroyed. As with Trump supporters, rationality and evidence regarding these issues do not penetrate their consciousness.
But unlike with Trump supporters, whose fierce debate will mostly take place outside public view (at least until the next primary election season), it appears that the progressives’ fight will be with a sitting president and therefore on front pages and news broadcasts for the entire presidency of Hillary Clinton. On the bright side, the Democratic infighting may be the only thing that adds a bit of spice to what will otherwise be the tasteless gruel of Hillary Clinton’s single term in office.
On the evening of November 8, Tom Friedman and other members of the clubby Democratic elite will look wistfully out over the electoral sea, watching the GOP’s Titanic steam inexorably toward the Donald Trump iceberg. These Democrats think they’re the lighthouse, but in fact they’re just another ship on the sea, about to be thrown onto the rocky shore of today’s politics.
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