Chuck Schumer has been much remarked upon, even praised in many quarters, for stating the obvious — that Hillary Clinton should stop blaming the sun, moon, and stars, and, of course, Russia for her demise and look to herself for her failure to win the presidency. She was a wretched candidate with no obvious reason for running. Indeed, the WikiLeaks from her campaign operatives are rife with emails searching for some justification for her candidacy other than gender.
The New York senator is clearly correct in his criticism but he has a larger unacknowledged problem that is ultimately far more serious: Hillary’s loss didn’t occur entirely due to her own ineptitude. She is not alone. Her party has no useful programs anymore. As Gertrude said of Oakland, there’s no there there. All they have is Trump bashing and, with the help of their media pals, that’s all they do — and the country knows it.
Yes, as we also all know, the Republicans have their issues, to put it mildly. For a party controlling practically everything, they are remarkably inept and self-destructive, but at least, beneath it all, they have the potential to come together and move forward. (Who knows if they will?) For the Democrats it is another matter. They are hamstrung on all sides.
On the left, they have the Bernie Sanders contingent. At first glance, these people are stuck in 1968, but in truth, they are stuck in (roughly) 1932 or is it 1867? (The publication of Das Kapital.) Bernie’s ideas are ye olde and moribund. He doesn’t even seem to understand (or admit) that the Europeans — whose version of socialism he continually touts — have been deserting that system right and left for years, going more free market than the USA currently is, particularly in the area of corporate taxes.
Bernie is Margaret Thatcher’s admonition about socialism eventually running out of other people’s money writ large. Sure, some young people are seduced by his seemingly idealistic palaver (actually it’s the reverse) but if he — or a younger clone — does run in 2020, one word will spell disaster for them: Venezuela. All socialist roads sooner or later point that way or to something even worse — the Soviet Union, China, etc. It doesn’t take a genius to point that out, nor to demonstrate the catastrophic deficits his proposals engender. (Hillary, scared of alienating his supporters, was terrible at this.) And the young people who vote — those concerned about jobs, not the sad Social Justice Warriors who have, unwittingly, already given up on life — will react accordingly.
But what about the centrist Democrats? What do they have to say? Well, not much. That was Hillary’s dilemma. Yes, she was about as charismatic as yesterday’s sushi, but even if she wasn’t, what could she say? Promise more things to black people? She already had their vote, more or less.
This reliance on reactionary identity politics is the root of the Democrats’ problem — a Faustian bargain that like all such agreements turns out badly in the end. LBJ’s original plan may have worked for the party (until now) but it has been a disaster for African-Americans whose communities and family life have been hurt significantly rather than helped.
Yet the Democrats cling to this cultivation of individual groups as if it were their only policy. Not surprisingly, these groups are finding themselves in conflict with each other, spelling problems for the Dems who have no way of reconciling the complaints of each. (The ludicrous construct of “intersectionality” has appeared because of this.)
This leaves the Republicans to pick up the pieces of a doomed Democratic Party if they can simply get it together to show the public of all races and orientations that we are all Americans first, that we will all do better that way. Can they do it? Your guess is as good as mine.
UPDATE: After writing this piece, I heard George Stephanopoulos interviewing Schumer about his extraordinarily boring so-called “Better Deal.” He’s promising better jobs for higher pay. Does that mean everyone’s going to work for the government, because that’s the only way he could guarantee that (and even then)? We all know where that leads. If that’s the best he can come up with, the Democrats are in worse shape than I thought.
I’ve parodied Preston Sturges before and I’ll do it again: “Liberalism” is not only dead, it’s decomposed. (I’m speaking of modern liberalism here — not classical liberalism, of course. Long may that live.)
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. He tweets, Heaven help him, @rogerlsimon.