By ann summers
Machtpolitik, or power politics was certainly evident in the 2016 DNC not simply because of Wikileaks revelations meant to destabilize the continuation of neoliberal politics somehow in favor of a nihilistic Trumpian minarchism.
The true role of foreign interference with US elections has yet to be revealed, but even without those disclosures, domestic politics lost innovative enthusiasm on the Democratic side as the GOP’s usual reactionary appeals have so far won the day.
Discomfort with the continuation of a flawed Clintonian dynasty brought the otherwise hopeful feminist message of HRC in conflict with a DNC apparatus that often treated primary opposition with less than cooperative or collaborative energy.
In effect the primary clusterflop of 2008 repeated itself, partially by overdetermining the Democratic base and neglecting those indecisive voters more potentially disposed to Orange Gasbagger, (Dependency > Power). For example, a closer post-election analysis of that demographic at the district level in those key swing states might reveal how much anti-HRC votes were affected by the continuing possibilities of Bill’s participation in an HRC White House.
Trump is the reactionaries’ diametric archetype: a 1980s misogynist media image of Playboy magazine and James Bond film, elements that put to the lie any claim of post-feminism in their longevity as masculinist consumer products.
Trump’s self-dealing, self-interested ethno-nationalism has so far prevailed, although perhaps the #AuditTheVote forces may yet succeed in aligning the popular vote with the anachronistic notion of state voting power represented by the Electoral College.
In retrospect, a complete appropriation of the Sanders agenda rather than triangulated struggle over the platform would not have been capitulation for HRC but in conjunction with a more progressive running mate, winning all swing states could have avoided the current crisis over the less than 100,000 vote margin of Orange Gasbag victory in the Electoral College.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but as the choice has become truly existential, the Democratic party must return to more unified, sustainable messaging rather than the usual desire to encourage insurgent self-destruction in its primaries. If “Zach-Democrat” demonstrates anything, party discipline / unity seemed short in supply in an election that perhaps believed too much in aggregative polling. Brazilian whacks in the DNC leadership since 2008 have clogged an otherwise optimistic 2016 outcome.
Democrats seized upon a way of ingratiating themselves to western voters: Republican federal expansions in the 1860s and 1870s had turned out favorable to big businesses based in the northeast, such as banks, railroads and manufacturers, while small-time farmers like those who had gone west received very little.
Both parties tried to exploit the discontent this generated, by promising the little guy some of the federal largesse that had hitherto gone to the business sector. From this point on, Democrats stuck with this stance — favoring federally funded social programs and benefits — while Republicans were gradually driven to the counterposition of hands-off government.
From a business perspective, Rauchway pointed out, the loyalties of the parties did not really switch. “Although the rhetoric and to a degree the policies of the parties do switch places,” he wrote, “their core supporters don’t — which is to say, the Republicans remain, throughout, the party of bigger businesses; it’s just that in the earlier era bigger businesses want bigger government and in the later era they don’t.”
In other words, earlier on, businesses needed things that only a bigger government could provide, such as infrastructure development, a currency and tariffs. Once these things were in place, a small, hands-off government became better for business.
That will require not just new leadership but different leadership. The DNC needs a chair who has an intersectional and activist organizing vision like that of former Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone, who taught us that
“There is an elementary aspiration which undergirds the humane impulse in our history and our culture and binds us together as political activists. This is a simple, irreducible, indisputable aspiration. It is the ‘dream of justice’ for a beloved community, in which the level of terror in people’s lives is sharply reduced or maybe eliminated. It is the belief that extremes and excesses of inequality must be reduced so that each person is free to fully develop his or her full potential. This is why we take precious time out of our lives and give it to politics.”
Insurgencies in the Democratic party have energized the GOTV, but only when the GE made the alternatives clearer than what we had in 2016. That the DNC did not mount a more decisive effort to erase the candidate negatives allowed the GOP to achieve an apparent victory at the polling margins.
On June 6, the Associated Press reported that Hillary Clinton had earned enough delegates to clinch the presidential nomination, including superdelegates. It was revealed through leaked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta that the Democratic Committee had been working with the Clinton campaign to help elect her as far back as December 2014.“Neutral” DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign from her post following the leaked emails which showed open hostility toward the Sanders campaign and blatant collaboration and coercion of the media to ensure negative coverage for Sanders and positive coverage for Clinton.