I am a Democrat."
- Will Rogers
"The right thinks the left is stupid.
The left thinks the right is evil."
- Charles Krauthammer (paraphrased)
To make it clear, I don't think Democrats are bad people, given that I've identified more with them for much of my life; no more bad or BAD than the average person, anyhow. As an institution, however, it's tough to figure out what they stand for nowadays - bar obstructionism and random corporate interests.
This might be best illustrated with reference to a movement closely connected to supposed Democrat ideals, the Women's March. Note, I broadly support gender equality - if a female, or any being identifying appropriate-pronoun-self on any dimension of genderness does the same work as a cismale (normalized by hours, mind), that person should be paid the same. All sentient citizens, regardless of genital preference or lack thereof, should hold the basic rights to vote, to worship any deity-monarch of their choice, to assemble sporting any headwear they like, and to openly lambast any other individual or group they so desire, on Twitter or otherwise.
No, the objections here are not against particular objectives, but on logical consistency. Consider the issue of abortion - the Women's March has been chartered to be pro-choice, but one finds it difficult to believe that a significant percentage of women aren't pro-life... which, as it happens, about half of them are. Are their views, as women, not to be respected? On the other hand, their inability to draw sensible boundaries has seen them exalt oppressive religious head coverings unlike those actually compelled to wear them, while delivering leadership to an anti-Semite, because inclusiveness. Moreover, they have just cancelled a rally for being "too white"; this is evolution culling the herd in real time, folks. But back to the main course.
Despite routine midterm election gains in the House (nowhere near the purported "Blue Wave", given they actually managed to lose ground in the Senate), the Democrats remain stricken with no coherent narrative, because they have become essentially two at-odd factions rolled into one: the Third Way Clinton-Obama establishment corporate Dems, and the radical Progressive wing of Bernie, Warren and of late, Ocasio-Cortez.
...but we'll unite against the GOP, right? Right?
This is the root of Democrat ineffectiveness. On the surface, they are a smiling Big Tent - all are welcome, none to be turned away. Underneath this idyllic facade, however, lies a mess of serpentine self-consumption. As explained in our analysis in 2016, American political history - and successes - are founded on factional alliances and compatibility. Precious little of the latter exists in the present-day Democratic Party.
Consider the GOP. By and large, their situation can be summarized as follows: they have a bloc of single-issue voters, say on abortion (pro-life). Then there is another bloc of single-issue voters, say on guns (out of my cold, dead hands). Simplifying, the first bloc generally doesn't have strong opinions about the Second (sure, guns, why not?), and the second bloc is fine with the core beliefs of the first (I kinda like babies too). Thus, each of their factions yields something they don't mind much, in return for support over what they really want. This is willing compromise, and makes for a cohesive unit.
Compare Democrats. They espouse various minority and social rights, but seldom deign to acknowledge that these interests are often fundamentally incompatible. For instance, they may embrace certain supposedly-marginalized religions, disregarding that their mainline stance on LGBT remains rejection at best and death at worst, despite hopeful presentations to the contrary (Singapore's still stuck, btw). This may be good for at least spurring some superficial contact between disparate groups; not so good for actually getting votes.
The major break within the Dems, without question, remains that between CorpDems and Progressives - the Hillary/Bernie divide. This rift doomed them in 2016, and as we march towards 2020, I see it only widening. The Progressives have again been loud and energetic, but the sad truth is that they really aren't that liked, outside certain self-reinforcing echo chambers - and for good reason, given that their policies tend not to make practical sense. This hasn't stopped them from openly trying to oust the Pelosi CorpDem leadership, of course, and if we're fortunate enough, this timeline could witness an official splintering of the Democrats soon. As it is, Pelosi seems to have picked gun control as their hill to perish on, demonstrating yet again the Dems' commitment to principled losing.
Bernie Or Bust, replayed
At this point, we might also come to ponder: why is it so acceptable to disparage TRUMP supporters, to the extent that admitting to being one can be grounds for cessation of discourse? One doesn't find it fair to tar all Democrats just because a small minority of their number goes about spreading violence and anarchy, so why is the presumption of racism bigotry sexism etc for their opponents, all but the default? Maybe it is, as we pointed out in our play-by-play of the Republican primaries, primarily a disagreement on economic realities, and only tangentially on race and other stuff?
Rewinding, the unchallenged ruling philosophy had been, for some decades, been that of neoliberal globalization. Trade's not a zero-sum game, the wisdom went. Grow the pie, and everyone will get a larger slice when we divvy it up. The trouble was that, while the pie might have grown, the workers' share of it declined if anything. The CorpDem (and CorpGOP) response was largely to shrug their well-padded shoulders - it's the free market. The Progressives at least registered it as a problem, but their solution was to Tax The Rich, not recognizing that they would just scoot offshore. Only TRUMP had a viable long-term solution - Take It Back From China (And So-called Allies). In doing so, he captured a good chunk of the now-uncool working class faction, that once was loyal to the Democrats.
Which brings us to the rise of nationalism, which some of the more liberal-minded can't seem to wrap their heads around. It might be instructive to consider the perspective of the poor, i.e. the "common man". Not for him the extensive social support structures of the upper and middle classes. He has no professional societies or guilds to speak for him; unions have long been in decline. No club or lobby or fellowship solicits his custom. However, he did use to have at least one entity to have his back, to look out for him, the friend of last resort. This was his birthright, paltry as it was. This entity was the nation-state.
What is globalization to such a common man? Globalization is his country telling him that he's on his own; that he will have to pay rent for a thousand-dollar-a-month apartment competing against Third World labour. Globalization is his leaders welcoming said labour into his home, to further drive wages down and prices up, as its proponents have belatedly acknowledged. They tell him it is for his own good - he doesn't feel it. He just sees rich f**ks poncing about jurisdiction shopping for the lowest taxes, while his is the sense of pride and accomplishment getting conscripted to guard their assets.
So he votes for a change. And now he's racist.
Environmental Sense (and Nonsense)
The love of globalization also produces yet another deep contradiction, this one pertaining to the environment. Suing one's government over climate change is the hip in-thing now, so it seems, and it is also a characteristically leftist approach - identify a problem, get behind unrealistic or pointless solutions. Recalling Krauthammer's earlier quote, perhaps it is not that the Right are fundamentally self-destructive Nazis out to burn the planet? Perhaps they do what they do because, you know, it's the best compromise? Or, to employ a concrete example, maybe the gilet jaunes aren't ignorant knuckle-dragging climate change deniers, but just ordinary fellows placing slightly less weight on tomorrow, as elsewise they would not survive today?
Amidst all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over climate change, and the eager dumping on TRUMP about his Paris Agreement no-show, the simple truth of the matter, as far as I can make out, is that the change is inevitable... and has been for some time. Not only that, the fine print of the Agreement is kind of a joke, as explained before. Just for example, China gets to set a target that is above their current projections, and expects to get rewarded for it. If one is to be honest about it, the agreement's something like requesting the orchestra of the sinking Titanic to throw their instruments overboard. In theory, it technically helps, and I wouldn't fault them if they complied (as with plastic bags and straws). Then again, I wouldn't be too arsed if they just continued playing music, either.
Looks like a feel-good conclave
So, is this it? It's the end, then? Hardly, I would say. Humans have survived far worse, and frankly, we'll probably keep living at the edge of sustainability and winging it. Mainstream discourse on climate change seldom directly touches upon population, and the implications of improving standards of living for the developing world. Can't have it all, it seems... but wait, isn't the situation fixing itself naturally in a way, through falling birthrates - and eventually, total population - in developed countries? But guess what do even "responsible, pro-environment" governments do in such circumstances? That's right, import people. For economic growth.
I'm not proposing that nothing be done, just to make it clear. I'm just asking that the actual impact and costs of actions be considered objectively, and not judged by their uplifting label (e.g. "social enterprise", in the local context). This is often in short supply when it comes to environmental issues, for instance the distaste for nuclear power (Singapore gets a bye here, for obvious reasons). Callous as it may sound, the most responsible advice for those living on low-lying Pacific islands, or on certain shores, would be: prepare to move, since it's probably happening, magical Paris consensus or not.
Such inappropriate reasoning and appropriation of blame was well in evidence for the recent California wildfires. The Democrats' line has been to stick them on climate change - a massive, abstract, global threat - and declare it the enemy. TRUMP's argument, however, was rather more enticing:
The timing of the relevant tweets probably wasn't sensitive, given the loss of life involved, and the reflexive FAKE NEWS response was expectedly that TRUMP was stupid and wrong - forest management had no part to play, they were urban interface fires... which, I don't know, might conceivably be interpreted as a private forest management thing. Referencing Krauthammer a third time, the heart vs. head dichotomy again appears to be in play. And indeed, after the initial passions cooled off, the Governor would quietly tweak his forest management laws, ample evidence would surface of past mismanagement, and sorta-respectable news outlets would gather the courage to tell the bitter truth - it's the management, stupid.
But not, so it seems, the NYT FAKE NEWS.
And hey, we might science our way out of disaster again. Or the experts could be wrong, after all. It wouldn't be the first time.
2019 In The Dankest Timeline
Anger. it's not been in short supply, in this political climate. Many feel powerless, and attempt through outrage to regain a sense of control. Longstanding institutions are failing. Those with the requisite credentials - reporters pushing manufactured narratives, economists pushing free-market globalization, foreign policy experts pushing war - are no longer being deferred to. To some, it must feel as if it's all coming apart.
Contrary to appearances, though, I can be quite the idealistic optimist. From this perspective, all this anger, all this conflict, serves to reaffirm one very important thing - American democracy is working as intended. It has ever swung between the right and the left, and what is happening is merely the pendulum making its way rightwards again, as it well should; for under the pendulum, is a pit, and within that pit is chaos without a ladder, and if the pendulum should stop swinging - if the people are forced, by violence or social pressure, to converge upon a single acceptable view - it will surely not be long before the pendulum falls.
As the New Year arrives, perhaps give the other side a try-out? It'll be fun, and there's plenty of space!
Unlike the opposition, we're upfront with intentions;
in honour of the Babylon Bee's Christian of the Year 2018
Next: Why This Pursuit
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