The Democrats: How do they rebuild?
“The Republican civil war was supposed to start this week,” said Jonathan Easley in TheHill.com. Instead, in the wake of Donald Trump and the GOP’s stunning election win, “a ferocious struggle has erupted on the Left over the smoldering remains of the Democratic Party.” To Bernie Sanders supporters, Hillary Clinton’s defeat represents the clear, final failure of “neoliberalism,” in which the last two Democratic presidents prioritized globalization and pro-corporate policies over the economic security of working people. Much of the party establishment, meanwhile, is pointing to the narrowness of Clinton’s defeat—she won the popular vote by more than a million votes—as proof that all the party needs is a new crop of younger, less compromised candidates with centerleft appeal. The battle for the party’s soul will begin with looming leadership contests, said Katie Reilly in Fortune.com. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress and far-left leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is running to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, against moderate former chairman Howard Dean, while Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is mounting a populist challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats’ “existential crisis” is just beginning.
If the Democrats are going to change, said Ryan Cooper in TheWeek.com, “it might as well be in the direction of social democracy.” Clinton lost because Trump’s angry populism won over a white working class whose welfare and protection was the Democratic Party’s “original reason for existence.” In an age of still-widening inequality, the Democrats’ obvious move here is to stop promoting globalization and giving reassuring $225,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs, and return to their roots as the party that defends the poor against the rich. “But Democrats should be “wary of overcorrecting” in a play for workingclass whites, said Conor Sen in BloombergView.com. The U.S. population is only getting younger, browner, and more urban. Why should Democrats reinvent themselves when they can just “hold on to the growing Democratic base?”
The belief that demographics would save the Democrats is “the god that failed” in this election, said Sean Trende in RealClearPolitics.com. Are white voters declining as a share of the electorate? Yes, but that percentage is still about 70 percent, and getting most of those votes will still “win a party an awful lot of elections.” The thricemarried, womanizing Trump even won 81 percent of white evangelicals’ votes, because “they are scared” they’ll become powerless pariahs in a Democratic-dominated nation. If Democrats want a comeback, they’d better rethink their aggressive “overreach” on cultural issues such as contraception, baking cakes for gay weddings, and religious freedom.
Democrats do need more white voters, said William Galston in The Wall Street Journal, but they have to give them “a clear, coherent alternative” to Donald Trump’s populist nativism and Bernie Sanders’ quasi-socialism. In this election, Democrats foolishly conveyed their “satisfaction with the status quo.” As they plot their revival, they need to come up with policies that assure workingand middle-class Americans there will be good jobs for them in a globalized, technological world. Democrats also need to drop their obsession with identity politics, said William Saletan in Slate.com. We can continue to fight racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia. But as long as Democrats define themselves by their opposition to prejudice, and dismiss the economic and cultural concerns of rural, white America, they will “keep losing elections.”
Only in America
▪ A substitute gym teacher in Los Angeles was caught on tape the day after the election telling Hispanic students that if their parents are undocumented, they will be deported by President Donald Trump. “Your parents gotta go and they gonna leave you behind,” said the teacher. When one sixth-grader asked how authorities would find them, the teacher replied, “It’s all in the system, sweetie. When they come and there’s an illegal, they gotta go.”
▪ A group of students at the University of Virginia is demanding that the faculty be forbidden to quote Thomas Jefferson despite the fact that Jefferson founded the school. Since Jefferson owned slaves, the group said, any reference to him in official communications “undermines the message of unity, equality, and civility that you are attempting to convey.”
Good week for:
The mainstream media, after The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal saw a 300 to 400 percent surge in subscription orders in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. “A lot of people feel compelled to respond in one civic way or another,” said Richard Tofel of the investigative website ProPublica.org.
Going out in style, after developers in Texas announced plans for a $300 million luxury resort community for doomsday preppers, with underground condos connected by tunnels. “It’s going to be a five-star resort with DEFCON 1 preparedness,” a spokesman said.
Product placement, after Ivanka Trump’s jewelry company sent a “style alert” promoting the new first daughter’s “favorite bangle,” a $10,800 diamond bracelet she wore during her father’s post-election interview on 60 Minutes.
Bad week for:
Leaving the dishes in the sink, after a French survey revealed that the No. 1 cause of infidelity cited by married women was their husband’s failure to do his fair share of the housework.
Drawing parallels, after a California high school teacher was suspended for a lesson in which he compared the rise of Donald Trump to that of Adolf Hitler. “Everything I talk about is factually based,” said Frank Navarro, a 40-year veteran teacher. “If I’m wrong, show me where I’m wrong.”
Foreign ticket sales, after Qatar’s World Cup organizers announced that drinking will be banned during the 2022 soccer tournament. “There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares, and public places,” said one official, “and that is final.”
Boring but important
Obama gives up on TPP
The Obama administration abandoned any hope of ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement last week, after GOP leaders in Congress said they would not vote on the deal before Donald Trump takes office. Obama made the agreement with 11 Pacific Rim countries a major priority of his second term, saying it would strengthen U.S.-Asian alliances and check the growing economic clout of China, which was not included in the deal. But it became a political lightning rod on the campaign trail, as Hillary Clinton disavowed it and Trump promised to withdraw from it. U.S. retailers and farmers had largely supported the pact, arguing that it would reduce foreign tariffs on goods they buy and sell overseas. Critics claimed it lacked sufficient protections for U.S. workers.