Here he comes . . . our ace in the hole.
Now that it appears Hillary has finally clinched the nomination, the cries to come together to “stop Trump” will only intensify. However, I agree with Bernie’s reluctance to concede. He needs to keep the pressure on Clinton and the DNC until he receives concessions and promises to fundamentally reform the party’s commitments to achieving progressive ideals. Bernie’s meeting with Obama Thursday was a good start.
Meanwhile, the movement can’t succumb to hysterical pleas to “lay aside our differences” (a.k.a. principles), play the usual game, and support the status quo without iron clad proof of Hillary’s commitment to sweeping change. Ironically, Trump provides the perfect boogie-man for the Democratic establishment to keep our eye off the ball, and the prize. Once again, the status quo can whip up fear and implore us to choose the lesser of two evils lest we succumb to GOP darkness. Not that Hillary Clinton is evil, but the system is, and Trump represents a gift for Clinton if she wants to cling to the old way of doing things, because of the fear he incites.
If the Clinton pitch to Berners is only painted in an anti-Trump context, then she’s off the hook, because the focus shifts from policy change to fear of the Boogie Man, which has been the Democratic playbook’s ace in the hole for far too long. Elizabeth Warren, and even Bernie, are falling into this trap as Democrats begin to “unite” around Clinton with mounting choruses of: “we can’t let Trump be president,” which is a passive statement to begin with. In fact, this was Warren’s opening salvo when she endorsed Hillary, rather than: “I’m backing Hillary because she will push Bernie’s agenda.”
Remember, divide and conquer has been a staple of American two-party politics since its founding, and as long as we view elections through a bi-polar lens, Bernie’s platform is doomed. Bernie’s faction needs to leverage fear of Trump among Hillary’s grassroots and lust for power among party elders to adopt A LOT of Bernie’s big proposals, otherwise, we stay home and let the chips fall where they may. We need to make Trump OUR ace in the hole, and be truly willing to let those chips fall, without bluffing, unless we get real concessions. No more statements like: “I’ll bring my barf bag to the booth when I pick Clinton,” or “I’ll hold my nose and vote for Hillary,” because that’s the trap folks. We’ve been holding our noses and running for years; running from the Boogie Man instead of standing for something. Running while Rome burns.
Trump is scary, but how much worse would Trump be than George W. Bush, who presided over the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and plunged us into a phony war that killed hundreds of thousands of people? Who also allowed terrorists to execute the worst attack on American soil in our history, despite being repeatedly warned of an imminent threat. How much more de-regulatory action on food and consumer product safety would we witness under Trump than we did with Bush? Or soft-pedaling of civil rights litigation in the Justice Department? Or political purges of civil servants who deviate from neo-con orthodoxy (remember Valerie Plame?)? Or Mexican Walls (the first one went up under Bush, remember)? How much more right wing would Trump’s appointed Justices be? More conservative than Alito and Roberts, the architects of Citizen’s United? If we had a surplus, would Trump wipe it out any faster than Bush did? Would military contractors get richer off the blood of American soldiers, or the intelligence community more bloated? Would Wall Street get regulated any less? Big Oil? Would polluters pay less?
Yes Trump is more unpredictable than Dubya, but then Dubya’s “experts” generated 9-11, the Iraq War, and the Great Recession. How much unpredictability did those three disasters create? Obviously, we don’t want to even approach this level of incompetence ever again, but the point is that we’ve seen this movie before. Trump is just another disaster in a different form. The difference this time though is that the GOP is in disarray, and the Democratic establishment smells blood, which is leverage for us, not the DNC. For the first time in over 150 years, we could witness the disintegration of a major political party as the GOP goes the way of the Whig. Their race card is up, and after half a century, the Southern Strategy has finally come home to roost in the face of Boogie Man Trump. It’s Friday the 13th, and Jason has been unmasked.
So, the DNC just might be the only game in town come January, and that potential for power is intoxicating. They can taste it, and this is why Bernie must hold Hillary’s feet to the fire and call her bluff. Otherwise, what will we gain if the Republican Party falls and the Democrats squeeze into their shoes to fill the void? They’ve moved so far to the right the past forty years, it might not be such a bad fit. Then what would we say to the millions of millennials who held their noses at our behest, and where would they go? How about away from politics. Forever . . . with no young army to fill the yawning chasm on the left.
The stakes are high, but we hold the Trump Card, not the DNC.
“Boogie Man”: 1. Mythical creature used by adults to frighten children into good behavior. This monster has no specific appearance, and conceptions about it vary drastically.