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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Democrats Divided

For John, BLUFI have been hearing about how "this is the end" for one party or another, from my youth, but differences of opinions make political parties happen.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From TheNew York Review of Books, by Mr Michael Tomasky, 26 March 2020 Issue.

Here is the lede plus four:

In early January, as Democratic voters began to focus more intently on the approaching primary season, New York magazine published a profile of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  The writer, David Freedlander, spoke with her about the divisions within the Democratic Party, and asked what sort of role she envisioned for herself in a possible Joe Biden presidency.  “Oh, God,” Ocasio-Cortez replied (“with a groan,” Freedlander noted).  “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”

This was in some respects an impolitic, even impolite, thing for the first-term politician to say.  AOC, a democratic socialist, had endorsed Bernie Sanders the previous October, so it was no secret where her loyalties lay.  Still, Biden was at that point the clear front-runner for the presidential nomination, and freshman members of Congress don’t usually make disparaging remarks about their party’s front-runner.  Her comment thus carried a considerable charge—a suggestion that if Biden were the nominee, this luminary and her 6.3 million Twitter followers might not just placidly go along.

And yet, she is correct.  In a parliamentary system, Biden would be in the main center-left party and AOC in a smaller, left-wing party.  So her comment was an accurate description of an oddity of American politics that has endured since just before the Civil War—the existence of our two, large-tent parties battling for primacy against each other, but often battling within themselves.

At the moment, as the Democrats struggle over their future, one can legitimately wonder whether the poles of the Democratic tent are strong enough to hold.  The divisions are stark.  This historical moment is often compared to 1972, when a youth movement similar to the one Sanders leads today took over the party and nominated George McGovern.  But if anything, today’s divisions run far deeper.  Then, the party was split chiefly over the Vietnam War.  There were other issues, to be sure, and the New Left—the 1960s movement of student radicals that spread from Madison to Berkeley to everywhere—pressed a broader critique of American society; but McGovern’s was fundamentally an antiwar candidacy.  And while the Vietnam debate was shattering to the party for a few years, wars eventually end, as indeed that one did, not long after the 1972 election.

Once it ended, and once the Watergate scandal mushroomed, the party was able to stitch itself back together with surprising ease.  In the 1974 midterms, both liberals and moderates were able to run aggressively against Richard Nixon, and the Democrats made historic gains that year.  Then, with the country still agitated over Nixon and Gerald Ford’s pardon of him, and with a sunny southern moderate vaulting over several better-known and more liberal senators, they recaptured the White House in 1976.

Then, this sentence to describe the current issues of division:
The current divide is not about one war.  It is about capitalism—whether it can be reformed and remade to create the kind of broad prosperity the country once knew, but without the sexism and racism of the postwar period, as liberals hope; or whether corporate power is now so great that we are simply beyond that, as the younger socialists would argue, and more radical surgery is called for.
And there we have it.  The United States is a nation that has prospered due to good natural resources, a working economic system and a political system that does a good job of reflecting the opinions of both the majority and minority—the political majority and minority.  This is reflected in the fairly routine replacement of one party by the other in our highest office.  And it is facilitated by our willingness to move on.  Southerners were forgiven.  No one today blames Puerto Rican’s for the Capitol being shot up post WWII.  Moving on and succeeding is our mode, and the best revenge.

The threat to the American system and success is our fascination with the allure of socialism.  These United States has its flaws, and they need fixing.

A question for the voters:  Do we go with steps of progress or do we go with a revolution?  The problem with slow steps of progress is you never actually get to that ideal State.  The problem with revolution is that the minority, which thinks it is going too fast, will resist and sabotage, and the only path of resolution is suppression.

It is said that in the implementation of socialism in the last Century there were 100 million deaths.  That is a lot of resistance crushed.  Did it happen everywhere?  No.  It didn't happen in Israel or the Scandinavian nations.  But, they backed off before it hit that tipping point.  On the flip side you have Russia (Soviet Union), China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and a couple of African States.  We don't count Italy and Germany, because Benito Mussolini had rejected Communism early on in favor of a more nationalist approach.

You may think this time will be different, but when you have the map to Utopia in your hands you are unlikely to want to listen to people with alternative ideas.

Regards  —  Cliff

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