I bring you this story from NBC News, where the wealthy and almost-wealthy alike have gathered to try to figure out how to stop a popular uprising– one might even call it “democracy”– from happening in the Democratic Party:
While the energy and momentum is with progressives these days — the victory of rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, buzz about Democratic Socialism and the spread of the “Abolish Ice!” movement are a few recent examples — moderates are warning that ignoring them will lead the party to disaster in the midterm elections and the 2020 presidential contest.
That anxiety has largely been kept to a whisper among the party’s moderates and big donors, with some of the major fundraisers pressing operatives on what can be done to stop the Vermonter if he runs for the White House again.
But the first-ever “Opportunity 2020” convention, organized here last week by Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank, gave middle-of-the-road party members a safe space to come together and voice their concerns.
That’s right– with actual fascism on the rise in America and left-wing economic solutions proving to be popular enough campaign planks to defeat it, the Democratic Party is concerned with… beating back its own popular voter movement and clinging to power no matter what. (The Iron Law of Institutions never fails.)
Third Way, of course, is the think tank behind the rise of Bill Clinton and the governing and electoral strategy that the Democrats ought to move rightward. Their philosophy has guided the Democratic Party at least since Clinton’s rise, if not sooner (ref. Listen, Liberal for examples of how, as far back as 1968, the Party has been moving away from its base of workers, unions, and minorities, and increasingly chasing white educated professionals while assuming the rest of its base will come along anyway). Yet, despite their total failures to maintain national power or to defeat Republicans, their fear (and their donors’ fear) of a movement that might actually do that with a real change in message, policy, and philosophy, has them scurrying to spin the current situation as one only they can solve.
The gathering here was just that — an effort to offer an attractive alternative to the rising Sanders-style populist left in the upcoming presidential race. Where progressives see a rare opportunity to capitalize on an energized Democratic base, moderates see a better chance to win over Republicans turned off by Trump.
The fact that a billionaire real estate developer, Winston Fisher, co-cohosted the event and addressed attendees twice underscored that this group is not interested in the class warfare vilifying the “millionaires and billionaires” found in Sanders’ stump speech.
That’s right– despite the fact that constantly catering to money and trying to win over these mythical “moderate Republicans” has been the strategy for decades now, the same strategy that managed to cost the Democrats the House for the first time in forty years in 1994, the same strategy that’s turned a bunch of formerly reliably Democratic working-class strongholds Republican… they intend to double down on this strategy, rather than rally a base that’s checked out from voting because the party no longer represents them.
Say what you will about the Republican Party, but they at least recognized where popular sentiment was going (see the Tea Party) and adjusted their messaging and strategy in order to whip up their voters and keep themselves in power. The Democratic Party as an institution, and the people who run it, are increasingly revealing themselves to be a bulwark against left-wing change, to actually prevent the kind of popular uprising that’s happening now, to keep the party in the hands of capital. The Republican Party has made a deal with its voters– we’ll give you all the cultural resentment you crave and then openly dismantle the government and sell it off to the wealthy. The Democratic Party has a different arrangement with its voters: We’re going to tell you the things you want are stupid, childish, and unrealistic; we’re going to do most of the same things the Republicans want to do; and then we’re going to yell and scream at you that you have to vote for us anyway to stop the Republicans, that you owe us your vote. Despite this strategy’s proven failure (see: 2016), the party seems intent on doubling down on it, and the only reason I can think of is “We would rather lose and keep our donor pipeline than win, even at the expense of letting the Republicans destroy life as we know it.”
The Democratic Party has to change radically or it’s going to crumble and fail as an institution. Unfortunately, with the way fascism is increasingly taking hold in America, if it doesn’t happen in 2018 and 2020, it may be too late to matter.