By Jenkin Benson ’17
Sometime in the latter third of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party lost its vision. A managerial enclave of neoliberals that have eschewed redistributive campaigns in favor of free market idealisms, police apparatuses and cosmetic multiculturalism has replaced the Social Democrats of the modernist era. The ideological transition from the symbolically socialist Great Society to grievously centrist Clintonism is an inauspicious shift that has drastically reduced the national power of Democrats since the beginning of the 2000s.
Democrats have lost over 1,000 state and federal positions in the elections following 2008.
There is an obvious decay at the very core of the Democratic Party, an incapacity to inspire and mobilize. The Democrats present themselves as the party of the working, the marginalized and the less fortunate, but the political reality is undeniable: they primarily represent the monetary interests of the coastal bourgeois. The 2016 election cycle encapsulated their fundamental detachment from the American.
Following Hillary Clinton’s historic loss to arguably the worst candidate in modern, if not the entirety, of American history, the flaws of the Democrats’ center ideals and elite allegiances became glaring and yet, the party and their media allies refuse to concede to any form of valid criticism. Instead, they proffer defensive narratives of how Clinton’s loss was the result of international subterfuge and expert conservative strategy, both of which are most assuredly untrue.
For months now, Vladimir Putin has become a Cold War-esque bogeyman in the establishment consciousness. While there is no doubt that Russian authorities intended to sway the American electorate it in some form, possibly through collusion with the Trump campaign, it must also be acknowledged how convenient that excuse is. For Clintonites, even the more insubstantial and dubious pieces of evidence incriminating Russian officials absolves their campaign of its many flaws. The ominously looming ideation of Putin has been functionalized as a scapegoat for the failures that stemmed from Hillary Clinton’s lack of message, tactless elitism and dynastic self-aggrandizing. Would the otherwise forgettable malfeasance of Clinton’s emails have mattered if her campaign was motivated by economic redistribution as opposed to proclaimed entitlement?
Clintonites are exceptional at psychologically resisting any challenge to their ideology. In their worldview, politics is a debate or game between individual actors, just like an intricate round of chess. They have a vested interest in maintaining this conception of the policy realm because if they accepted the actuality, that politics is the exertion of power between classes, they might have to meaningfully address conflict between the material needs of the American people and the capitalist benefactors of their party. The relationship between Trump and Bannon altogether exemplifies how the Democratic elite views political competition. Rehashing the Bush/Cheney dynamic, Clintonites have already characterized Trump as a hapless puppet for Bannon’s subversive proto-fascism. Despite the fact that Trump has no real political background and is unilaterally hated by every major actor in Washington D.C., there are a slew of pundits that have depicted Bannon and him as devious Machiavellians bent on initiating a coup. This is complete nonsense. Trump, a reality tv star and glorified used car salesman, is most obviously not adroit with political maneuvering. Bannon is equally witless. Leaked White House reports and their thoroughly incompetent executive orders are more than enough evidence to understand this.
In the Clintonite imagination, Trump and Bannon are calculating masterminds at the ready to incite a new era of American fascism. Who else could have bested Hillary Clinton’s faultless progressive campaign? The two have to be shrewd politicos and not bumbling retirees without any knowledge of American political channels.
The 2016 election cycle should have been a layup for the Clintonites, but as history has proven, elitist liberalism cannot defeat hard right populism, even Trump’s pathetically meandering movement. While the upper echelon of the Democratic Party retreats into their fantasies and refuses to reckon with the inarguable weaknesses of their ideology, organizers across the country have begun to reject Trumpism as a revitalized left. It’s time to shrug off the centrist illusions of the Democratic Party and work for real progress.