Change is Coming, Little Butterfly

In the past I have heard conservatives say that, though they disagree with Bernie Sanders about almost everything, they nevertheless respect him a little bit for, at the very least, sticking to his guns and remaining ideologically true to his principles. I get this, sort of, but in the end I find it difficult to respect a man whose principles are not merely wrong but demonstrably, obviously so: Bernie may believe the same things he’s consistently believed for four decades, but they’re stupid things, and he should know they’re stupid things, and the fact that he has chosen not to know renders him a bit, well, stupid in my eyes.

He does, however, have one string to his bow that makes him, if not respectable, then at least occasionally tolerable and sometimes worth listening to: he is not afraid to criticize the idiot brigade of the modern Democratic Party. I suppose it’s understandable that, after the corrupt, Clinton-rigging Democrat machine chewed Bernie up and spit him out last year, he might be willing to take the gloves off when it comes to the donks. But give him credit, he’s right about this:

Fresh off his “Unity Tour” alongside Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Sunday that the Democratic Party needs to change. “I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing,” Sanders said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Why does the senator have such a dim view of the party that almost turned him into a presidential candidate? Because it keeps losing. “We have a Republican president who ran as the most unpopular candidate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of governor chairs, and in the last eight years they have picked up 900 legislative seats. Clearly the Democratic Party has got to change.”

As far as the Vermont senator is concerned, the Democratic Party should become “a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations.” Once the party really takes up the issue of standing up “to the billionaire class,” then turnout will soar and Democrats will start winning again.

Sanders is right that the Democrats need to change, but he is wrong in believing that it’s a matter of becoming “a grassroots party,” and he is doubly wrong to think it will happen either way. Why? Because for the Democratic party to change in any meaningful sense—for a Democratic change to have any practical value at all—the shift will have to be ideological, not financial; the party would have to effect an entire change of philosophy, at which point they would stop being Democrats and just start being, well, conservatives, or at least small-r republicans.

The Democratic Party is failing because it is running a dead platform of dead ideas: centralization, massive government, high taxes, high spending, overregulation, vicious racial identity politics, literal dead babies. This is how the modern Democratic coalition is construed; these are the hills they die on, even—especially—the one about dead babies: while Bernie campaigned on behalf of Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello last week, DNC head Tom Perez threw Mello under the bus for not supporting “a woman’s right to [abortion].” So this is the Democratic Party of 2017: if you’re a corrupt career politician or a crazy old crank socialist you have a decent shot at the presidency, but if you believe it’s wrong to murder innocent human beings then you won’t even get any help in an Omaha mayoral race.

Bernie is right: this needs to change. But how likely do we think the Democratic Party—intellectually exhausted, run primarily by old white people, increasingly intolerant of even the mildest and most inoffensive instances of dissent or unorthodoxy—will change? Do you see someone like Elizabeth Warren moderating her stance on anything, or Tim Kaine returning to his hallowed centrist roots, or Kamala Harris changing her mind about the weaponization of government for the persecution of dissidents? The likelihood of any of this changing over the short-term is entirely doubtful, and the prospects of Democrats look at the national, state and local levels look correspondingly grim. Poor old Heath Mello will just have to subsist on his own out there in Omaha. Maybe Bernie can knock on some doors for him before it’s too late.

3 comments

  1. David

    Daniel, you would be quite funny if you weren’t so much like every other young man on the planet. The notion that the Democratic Party has no hope of success unless it changes is reasonable enough but to continue on to state that “these are the hills they die on, even—especially—the one about dead babies” is quite humorous.

    We have already spent some time discussing abortion & the relative rights of the unborn vs the woman who might claim self-defense because she does not wish to spend major portions (if not all) of her life as a legal slave. We will continue to disagree & that’s ok. The only difference between us in that disagreement is that you wish to impose as law your belief that all human life is sacred & should have the protection of law so long as it does not create a burden to society vis-à-vis the government & I prefer to leave that decision to the woman whose life is in question. If she wants to give her life to the child she may do so. If she chooses otherwise, you is free to make that choice until the point when it is possible for someone else (either individual or group) who is willing to take that responsibility. I believe this is a fair summary of our positions & we do not need to revisit it.

    I say you are so much like most every other young man on the planet because you apparently have a difficult time discerning between what you believe to be right & the fact that significant portions of the rest of humanity do not agree with you on major issues. I only use abortion as an example because there is so much polling evidence out there to indicate just how wrong you are in holding your position regarding the prospects of the Democratic Party (http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx ).

    We could certainly consider other parts of their political platform but in general, a significant part of the electorate supports the Democratic Party & the majority of their platform. If the Republicans were winning elections by significant majorities, there might be more substance to your critique but the fact is that Democrats do quite well electorally in urban areas & a majority of voters actually do vote for Democratic candidates. It is just the fact that the Republicans have been doing better overall in the USA because our system of electing representatives is somewhat biased towards rural voters & the fact that the Republican strategists took advantage of Obama’s “overreach” to gain control of many state legislatures in 2010 & were thereby able to draw legislative districts that undermined democracy by ensuring that legislators could pick their voters rather than voters pick their legislators.

    The issue of gerrymandering is a recurring issue & both party’s have been guilty of it. I might be inclined to think that someone such as yourself, who seems to present yourself as a principled agent in the body politic, might be inclined to oppose a practice which is so clearly designed to undermine the democratic will of the people. But, then again, given your apparent willingness to confuse your personal beliefs with the beliefs of the general population, perhaps I am wrong regarding your principles & your primary desire is to just impose your will on the people?

    • Daniel Payne

      David. I believe abortion is *murder.* I.e. the deliberate killing of innocent human beings. Of *course* I want it to be illegal. Clucking your tongue and wagging your finger at me for wanting to “impose my will on the people” is an utterly meaningless tactic. Anyone who doesn’t want murder to be illegal—anyone who would refrain from “imposing their will on the people” when it comes to anti-murder laws, say—would be properly viewed as a sick psychopath and a dangerous person. This line of attack is silly and pointless and you should be embarrassed for adopting it.

      • David

        I guess that this is more evidence, as you pointed out, of my need to keep my posts more basic. The abortion question is secondary from my critique of your post. Your critique of the Democratic Party presupposes that the majority of the electorate agrees with your positions >>the party would have to effect an entire change of philosophy, at which point they would stop being Democrats and just start being, well, conservatives, or at least small-r republicans.<<

        Your evidence of this is flimsy at best.

        I discussed the abortion question only as evidence of where the mainstream disagrees with you. The imposition comment was not relating to the question of abortion but relating to your apparent assumption that your thinking should be considered representative of the mainstream. You are entitled to believe your thinking "should" be mainstream. Make your case & try to convince people. To assume it already "is" mainstream requires more evidence than you present.