Friday, August 17, 2018

Why Democrats May Soon Have To Embrace Political Warfare To Stop Trump And the GOP.

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How our Founding Fathers settled political disputes - the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton - with the latter shot dead for his effrontery.(From The New Republic, March, 2018)

"The way democracy is conducted today may have hit a new low in the lifetime of most Americans—but not in the life of the republic. The United States has been here before. For almost the entirety of the country’s first century of existence, politics was a zero-sum game—and often a blood sport. All fights were to the death, and those parties that lost were eliminated. The Federalists ceased to exist. So did the old Whigs, after losing their battle to the death with the Democrats. " -   Kevin Baker, 'The Myth Of Normal America', The New Republic, March 2018, p. 14.

"At their heart, appeals to moderation willfully ignore an obvious and indisputable aspect of our presidential system: the ahistoric procedural tactics marshaled by the Republican Party to accomplish their objectives are adopted because they usually work. And despite brief episodes of political blowback when the party reaches too far, Republicans have done incredibly well for themselves by pushing the limits of acceptable political behavior to their advantage." - Tim Donovan, 'Dems Fighting Words',  The American Prospect, Aug. 26, 2006

"Unpleasant as it may be for Right wingers to think about, their articles of faith are essentially spinoffs of wrong ideas about baboons. ...The baboon model, of course, fits hand in glove with the idea that humans are killer apes who have always hunted and eaten flesh. Wrong or not this theme works well in the dog-eat-dog culture of industrial capitalism...Put together in a package they make up a political outlook known as Social Darwinism." - Jim Mason, 'An Unnatural Order: Uncovering The Roots Of Our Domination Of Nature And Each Other, p. 79.

Let's get real here: the hope of many Democrats - like my wife,  Janice- that Trump and the gangster GOP will be stopped by Robert Mueller or elections in November ( and two years hence), may be no more than a pipedream. This is because the tacit assumption made is the Ds' political opponents will act as rational and responsible actors - as opposed to rats using Russian hacking, voter suppression, rigged electronic voting machines  or other vicious tactics -  i.e. to stay in charge of the current rolling national disaster.  The point? It may be necessary for the Dems - to survive as a viable party, far less win elections - to go "nuclear" in terms of political warfare at multiple levels. 

 As long ago as April, 2010, I wrote about the message in Michael Tomasky's American Prospect piece,  'Dems' Fightin' Words', in which he observed the extent to which Democrats had devolved to become political Caspar Milquetoasts. That is, deliberately eschewing hard nosed, no -holds barred  partisanship for a debate style emphasis on "reason and temperance",  based on invoking policy points.

Little wonder from that point the Dems have been thumped time after time (especially in governorships)  until now they have almost been gerrymandered out of existence by the Repukes. Oh, even as the lower federal courts are being stacked with right wing nuts.  Without the will to fight, and by that I mean bringing a metaphorical "Uzi" or anti- aircraft gun to the proverbial "gunfight", they likely will go the way of the Dodo ….or the Whigs.

This is also the theme of Kevin Baker's New Republic article from March, 2018,  'The Myth Of Normal America'.    E.g.

A myth, sadly, that the Democrats largely appear to be operating under.  But for context let me provide a few quotes from Baker's article, starting with the genesis of what I will call the political war state:

"Republicans’ pursuit of the “Southern strategy” to scoop up Wallace voters, followed by the Clintons’ largely disastrous effort to reshape the Democrats from a culturally diverse party with shared liberal economics into a center-right economic party with shared cultural values, have pushed our politics back to the winner-take-all past. Can we expect the results to be any different after Trump than they were the last time around, if we find ourselves back in the old-school, antebellum political system? Well, what’s the popular definition of insanity again?"

The point about the Dems' "center right economic party" - leading to the DLC  or "Democratic Leadership Council" - is a solid one because it was suggested by Tomasky (ibid.) that this is what turned the Dems away from partisan fights to Milquetoasts- and losing.  This also led to "a diminution and loss of an overarching and motivating vision".  Not surprisingly, the Dems moved toward corporate elitism (and Neoliberalism) - effectively becoming "Republican lite".

The problem is that this pose simply emboldened the GOP  - which went on a tear to destroy the Dems totally - using propaganda of whatever form, as well as bare knuckle tactics such as gerrymandering on steroids, voter suppression (including in the 2000 general election in FLA) and  reaching their apex (nadir?) with the blocking of any Senate hearings for Merrrick Garland. Oh,  and the more recent total capitulation to the traitor Trump - thereby becoming his de facto henchmen.  To  fix ideas, just look at the recent mouthings of the trio of Reepo quislings:   Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy (Louisiana backwoods inbred - no relation to JFK) and Orrin Hatch - denouncing John Brennan after Trump stripped his security clearance.

Another timely, excellent Baker point to ponder:

"Democracy is a system designed for human beings to exist in and prosper under, together and indefinitely. As in any successful means of living, it depends to some degree on mutually agreed-upon forgiveness (if not forgetting). War, on the other hand, is meant to achieve a set objective, for as long or as short a time as that takes. Its aim is to break the will of an opponent to resist, and it builds momentum—and often morale—by dwelling more and more on the perfidy of the enemy. Atrocity builds upon atrocity, propaganda replaces truth and objective analysis, “winning” surpasses any other objective, and all rules that exist are the more likely to be discarded the longer the war continues, with each blow that follows the next falling harder and more heavily. 

The politics-as-war we live under now escalates steadily, with each transgression inviting another. The Democrats who finally unseat Trump, or merely succeed him, will have to respond in kind to him and his ilk, no matter how superior they may feel in ethics and motivation. It’s the logic of war rather than the logic of democracy."
The last point is a critical one to process which is likely to blow away many Dem centrists, moderates  or "powderpuffs". I.e. those who cling to the use of "civility" or civil tactics and strategies to oust the human pustule in the White House and his retinue of lesser pustule enablers.  Hence, the theme needs to transform to the "logic of war"  rather than the "logic of democracy". Why? Because for all intents the Repukes have demonstrated by their actions they've no interest in democratic institutions or processes. Hell, they will not even provide a constitutional check on the powers of the pretender occupying the White House.   So hence Baker's admonition for the Dems to "respond to Trump in kind". In other words, become just as vicious and unforgiving, striking back as he has. Oh, and even go beyond that to altering the system itself. How ?

Again, we go to Baker for specifics:

"Democrats will have to become more partisan and more ruthless just to survive. Let’s say Republicans do add another 60, or 250, or 300-plus seats to the federal judiciary. Democrats will have no choice but to add even more, if they hope ever to pass a program that will not be struck down by the rabid new partisans filling our courts. 
For that matter, the best way for Democrats to make certain that Republicans never duplicate what they just did with Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch—refusing even to consider the Supreme Court nominee of a sitting president for months on end and then installing their own party’s ideologue instead, as soon as they won an election—would be to expand the Supreme Court by appointing two new justices, as soon as they have the opportunity.... It would be easy to say that this way madness lies, but this is the way America used to do business. 
As Richard Primus points out, before most of our modern federal judiciary existed, it was much easier for the party in power to manipulate the law by simply changing the number of seats on the Supreme Court, up or down. Why not? There is nothing in the Constitution that says they can’t—any more than there’s anything saying that Mitch McConnell can’t have the Senate wait until “the people have spoken” in a distant presidential election"

Will the Dems have the cojones to add more Supreme Court seats? How about more federal judiciary seats?  My take is most of the current Dems in power - namely Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi  - will not go that route because they will regard it as "extreme".  In this case, we can only expect more Dem losses because the two dem leaders regard our politics like a college debate society as opposed to political war. This is also precisely the criticism leveled at the last generation of D leaders by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their book, Banana Republicans | PR Watch

Baker has this further warning for any Dem leaders, including Schumer and Pelosi, prepared to tolerate more GOOpr ruthlessness as opposed to taking the bastards to the mat.

"Lawlessness, long tolerated, has a way of coming back on one’s own party. Democrats, ruminating upon what meat doth our Caesar feed, may be dumb, but they’re not stupid. They understand that the Gorsuch coup was another escalation, another coarsening of democracy. They get that McConnell’s silence and McCain’s pledge about not approving a Hillary nominee, period, was a clear suggestion that any Democratic president would be considered illegitimate—and that should one be elected, we can expect a four-to-eight-year Republican blockade of any Supreme Court nominees, and nominees to other vital government posts as well. "

So, in other words, Trump and the GOP have already declared a state of war- against the Dems. The latter perforce will now have to muster the will to fight like rabid Tasmanian Devils to stop the further destruction of our Republic and its devolution into a One Party state that Rampton and Stauber have warned about.

But again, is there the will?  My bet is the Dem party will need to tilt far more leftward in Antifa-style to mount the will to fight on the scale and intensity needed.

Baker again:

"Judging by the events of the last year—and the last 30—that crisis may soon be in the offing. The tactics formulated by the right, and eagerly adopted by Trump, have proved so successful that their opponents would be foolish to forswear them. And if Democrats still don’t happen to possess more than a knife to bring to this gunfight, they seem at least to recognize that it is a gunfight."

Fine. But I still want them to not only recognize the "gunfight" but to bring an Uzi and an anti-aircraft cannon or two.


"Just three days after this column appeared, Trump sandbagged a meeting with Republican and Democratic senators to devise a bipartisan immigration bill, by bringing in some of the worst anti-immigration bigots in the Congress and announcing before them all that he was for more immigrants from nice countries like Norway, and not from some “shithole countries.” In short order, all the president’s men were insisting that they had heard nothing, nothing at all; other Republicans were denying he had said anything bad or claiming that he had actually said “shithouse countries” (a befuddling distinction); and Trump himself was insisting, once again, that Democrats wanted to let murderers and drug dealers into the country to kill us all in our beds.In one fell swoop, the president had inflicted on Americans a vulgarity that we had never before seen in our daily newspapers or heard on our newscasts and followed it up with his usual tsunami of lies, coerced perjury, and lethal smears. The sad truth of the matter is that it was years ago that one political movement in this country obliterated the “rules”...…. What the United States is immersed in now is not politics as usual but something much worse, with as venal, as vicious, and as openly racist a group of individuals as have ever controlled its government."

In other words, we are in the midst of a political upheaval, a war for all intents, and every manjack who wants to see the end of Trumpism and the GOP quisling enablers - needs to act like it's a war - not a college debate.

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