The Democratic Party Starts to Come Apart

sanderswarrenUnlike the Republican Party, which is a rock solid alliance between big business and cultural conservatives, there is a deep contradiction at the heart of the Democratic Party. On one side, you have affluent, mostly older liberals, feminists, parts of Wall Street and the military industrial complex, the corporate media, the permanent bureaucracy in Washington, and the African American elite that was bought off by the ruling class after the collapse of the Civil Rights Movement. On the other side you have millennials, downwardly mobile members of the middle-class like myself, the more culturally liberal part of the “white working class” in the Midwest and the Northeast, and younger, more radical blacks and Hispanics. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star on the Democratic Party left, remarked, “in any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party.”

Long simmering, this class-contradiction inside the Democratic Party exploded into open view during the Democratic Party debate on January 14th. A few days ago, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign went to CNN, which hosted the debate, with a report that last year, in a private conversation, Bernie Sanders made a remark to Warren that a woman couldn’t be President. CNN, a reactionary cable news network, which is as biased against the Democratic Party left in 2020 as they were against Michael Dukakis in 1988, not only featured Warren’s charges, they dismissed Sanders’ denial out of hand, maintaining that “it’s not he said she said but reported news.”  The next morning, both the Sanders and Warren camps were in damage control mode, trying to suppress a debate that Warren initiated and Sanders knows isn’t going anywhere.

To me, Sanders no longer seems a viable candidate to drag the party back to its New Deal roots. He’s too old, too tired and apologetic in the face of the “woke,” cultural left represented by Elizabeth Warren. The right way to have responded to Warren’s attacks would have been the way Trump would have responded. “There you go again lying Liz.” Instead, Sander’s stuck to his usual script. He defended Medicare for All, declared that he opposed the Usmca, the successor to NAFTA, and made a few lukewarm criticisms of American militarism, all good positions but none of which are going get Warren’s highly educated, wealthy supporters to support his working-class agenda.

While Sanders is reluctant to admit it, the cultural left is not an ally. Upper-class white feminists no longer care much about publicly funded abortion. Like Bill Clinton, they believe that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Amy Klobuchar has been praised for arguing against “free college.” Your plumber, she maintained, doesn’t need an English degree. The professional managerial class, that stratum between capitalists and the working class, those lawyers, bureaucrats, lobbyists and professional activists who can afford rent in the Bay Area or District of Columbia, see Medicare for All and other “universal” programs like social security and tuition free higher education, not only as “racist,” but as being against their own class interests. It not only means higher taxes. It means a loss of employment opportunities for their own kids, who will eventually become the lawyers, bureaucrats, and professional activists who will maintain means tested social programs like Obamacare.

In the end, the winner of the Democratic Party debate on CNN, not surprisingly, was the Republican Party and the American ruling class. While anything’s possible — Joe Biden might actually die in mid-campaign and still beat Trump in the general election — the Republicans, whether led by Trump or by Mitch McConnell, will retain control of the government. Indeed, at this point, Biden and older African American voters in the South, seem like the only thing holding the party together. A Warren victory in 2020 is likely to have the same result as the Clinton victory did in 2016. She may take the popular vote, but she’s unlikely to win back Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, or the electoral college. A Sanders victory in the primary will almost certainly mean mass, upper-class liberal defections to Trump, and active sabotage by the swamp in Washington, which, as of yet not drained, will see any further movement to the left as a threat to their livelihood.

The best outcome for the American people would probably be the end of the Democratic Party and the birth of a genuine left. A Trump Presidency, as bad as it is, is not likely to be as damaging as whatever “grand bargain” Biden makes with Mitch McConnell to destroy Social Security.  So let the fight between Warren and Sanders rage on. Burn baby burn.

9 comments

  1. John Thurloe · · Reply

    The general line of this analysis is very good and makes many excellent specific points. Allow me to sharpen this somewhat.

    The battle line within the Democratic Party used to be between the Liberal establishment – Wall St., the military, foreign imperialism, the police and spy apparatchiks, trade union bureaucrats – versus the rising Identity Movements – Blacks, women, gays, religious and ethnic minorities. The ‘multiculturalism Rainbow coalitions.

    This is history. The leaderships of these fading latter movements have been co-opted into, bought off. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Also, these are generals without an army. They simply can’t mobilize serious boots in the streets and the old vibrancy and grass-roots passion has died. The ‘progressives’ vainly try to breathe life into a corpse. All of this lot have no organic connections to the increasingly bitter, alienated and immiserated American working people. Tomorrows Yellow Vests.

    The establishment wants Biden and could live with Warren. Their problem with Sanders is that he’s not compliant with the standard hypocrisy of the party’s politics. He serves as a rallying point for serious dissidents. The establishment are Blairites and Sanders is Jeremy Corbyn. They can’t beat him on policy so they will destroy him by smears.

    Trump has shown a masterful ability to de-fang the Identity smear industry. He just concedes nothing and thunders back on the attack. But Corbyn and Sanders cringe, apologize, back-pedal and are crushed. Neither can bring themselves to openly break with, denounce and attack the dead progressives they grew out of. And because of this unwillingness to break with the Elites, the disgusted masses abandon them as they have across Europe and around the world.

    In the end, Corbyn and Sanders are the final gasp of any surviving faction within a major ruling party. Great! Let the Hubert Humphrey Democratic establishment blow off and insult the last dissidents. Who do they imagine will do the grunt work in the election run up? This will suck all the wind of enthusiasm out of the official candidate.

    Trump stands to win in a cakewalk. Baring the unforeseen which is always possible. But he’s like that Bozo The Clown weighted punching thing I had as a kid. He just keeps bouncing back. And there will be a very angry and bitter army of those betrayed that will pour out endless vitriol against the Democrat.

    If Trump wins round two the Democratic Party will likely, finally split. Trump will apply an enema to Democrats across government and dry up all their funding. Without loot or the prospect of it the racket is over. Plus, just for his added pleasure, Trump will likely go after the deeper layers in government that perpetuated the Russia conspiracy crap. And they will rat the whole business out in hopes of mercy.

    Destroying the Democratic Party means keeping it out of power. Wreck the Identity traitors racket and all power to building up and organizing the mass forces pissed off for serious change.

    And keep up your line of writing. You and Hopkins are the best.

    1. Trump has shown a masterful ability to de-fang the Identity smear industry. He just concedes nothing and thunders back on the attack. But Corbyn and Sanders cringe, apologize, back-pedal and are crushed. Neither can bring themselves to openly break with, denounce and attack the dead progressives they grew out of. And because of this unwillingness to break with the Elites, the disgusted masses abandon them as they have across Europe and around the world.

      Because there’s no class contradiction within the Republican Party. It was clear in 2016 that the corporate media wanted Marco Rubio (at least until he was humiliated by Chris Christie). Trump won anyway because the Republican Party is an alliance of big capitalists and petty bourgeoisie cultural reactionaries. Corporate media hacks hate the petty bourgeois cultural reactionaries but they see big capitalists as their future employers. So yeah they were going to push back against Trump a little but in the end they’re going to toe the line.

      Sanders wants to steal whatever “never Clinton” white working class voters abandoned Clinton for Trump in 2016, but the elites in rich liberal states like my own see them as the enemy. I’m quite frankly a little shocked at the quasi genocidal rhetoric I see from rich liberals about working class white men in the midwest and south. It almost makes me understand why they’re voting for Trump and stockpiling guns. Warren’s people do not want these voters in their party. Biden will take them if he can get them (and he’ll play up his roots in Scranton, PA) but will he get them?

      I keep thinking of the movie El Cid, where the heroic Spanish Christian knight dies but they tie him up on his horse and send him into battle anyway. It makes me think of Biden. The Democratic Party is an incoherent mess desperately holding onto the past. So they strapped senile old Joe up on his horse for one more ride before the city goes down in flames.

    2. Joe Biden riding into his final battle against the Republicans.

  2. John Thurloe · · Reply

    Oh, too much! The El Cid bit is smack on. Anastasia? Princes in the Tower? Hubert Humphrey? redux.

    The endless factionalism withing the Republican Party has subsided, so much is true. They would rather there was Other Than Trump. But, since the guy can’t be knocked down and play good old boy, they might as well shut up and let the Democrats break themselves against him. But, if he falters…

    The Democrats are crippled by their inability to face down the Identify smear artists. Let them tear themselves apart. Best thing for regular folks.

    1. I’m going to do what I did in 2016 — vote for Bernie in the primary than the Worker’s World Party in the general — but Bernie’s movement has clearly been transformed, flooded by young hipster professionals who see it as the next big thing. So the quarrel between Bernie’s people and Warren’s is as much a family quarrel between two factions of woke liberals as it is an actual class conflict. The original agenda of flipping Trump’s less fanatical supporters from right populism to left populism is becoming much less of a priority.

      1. John Thurloe · · Reply

        WWP. Back in the day, I had some friendly dealings with Sam Marcy. He came to Toronto and met with a group. I went to Chicago. Very hush-hush. Things didn’t come together but there were no hard feelings. A group with a most interesting history.

        1. I may also go with the Greens or the PSL. Trump doesn’t stand a chance in my state, so even if Bernie does get the Democratic nomination, it still pays to vote 3rd Party.

  3. John Thurloe · · Reply

    Trump is the enemy but the Democrats are traitors.

    1. I personally like professional wrestling analogies.

      Trump is the heel.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heel_(professional_wrestling)

      Whatever Democrat gets the nomination is the face.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_(professional_wrestling)

      It can all change overnight, as it in fact did when the Democrats all became Russia obsessed neocons in 2017,

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