Terry Jones of Monty Python passed on last month, but his spirit was present at the Iowa caucuses last night as “none of the above” emerged as the apparent winner. The combined efforts of the comedy writers of Tinseltown couldn’t have produced a sillier outcome. A technical glitch delayed the delegate count, but the contingent, in this case, reveals the necessary: The Democrats don’t have a clue whom they want as a presidential candidate, because the Democratic Party has become a suppurating stew of contending resentments. Do they want a recycled Communist to soak the successful and distribute the spoils to self-defined losers in the form of student-loan forgiveness or subsidized health care or a job-killing minimum wage? Do they want an eco-gender icon who flatters the faddish predilections of young urban professionals? Do they want a feminist standard-bearer with an aggressive redistributionist agenda? Do they want an African-American candidate to embody the rejection of “white privilege” and correct the supposed original sin of slavery? Or do they want an aged, empty vessel whose only qualification is a past association with a Democratic Party that once upon a time won elections?
Democratic voters don’t want any of these. No doubt the Iowa Democrats will release results eventually, although challenges and recriminations may persist for a while. But the actual vote, whatever it is, will show a degree of fragmentation among Democratic voters never seen since the party’s founding. The radical vote is big enough to block Biden, a shadow of the crafty, nasty politician who crushed Paul Ryan in the 2012 vice-presidential debates, a pathetic figure who says what his handlers made him memorize when you pull the string at the back of his neck. Bernie Sanders, the one candidate who came into the primaries with a national reputation and a field organization, lacks the credibility to unite the radicals, and Elizabeth Warren is too shrill, too extreme and too crazy to do anything but siphon votes away from Sanders. The black candidates have withdrawn from the race. Pete Buttigieg may emerge in front of the pack because he’s everyone’s second choice.
Thus pops the bubble of intersectionality, the calculus of resentment that was supposed to align the interests of all the oppressed of the world. Feminists ignore the vulgar exploitation of the Super Bowl halftime show because Shakira and JLo are Hispanics, and therefore oppressed people who are entitled to use their sexuality as an expression of power (they also ignore the misogyny of rap and endemic violence against women in the Muslim world for the same reason). Urban metrosexuals ignore the fact that the tax burdens of failing municipalities erode their prospects, because they don’t want to seem insensitive to the needs of the homeless or the problems of minorities.
Except they don’t. The young urban liberals who rally around Buttigieg are backing the great gentrifier of South Bend, the bane of minority residents. They didn’t vote for Cory Booker, who marketed himself as Obama Lite. They abandoned Elizabeth Warren because they actually pay taxes. Sanders has lift from the children’s crusade of university layabouts who never learned what socialism actually is, but can’t seem to gather a quorum of grownups. And none of the crew appeals to minority voters, whose degree of enthusiasm will determine the turnout, and possibly the result, of the 2020 presidential election.
The Democrats can’t unite because they have nothing around which to unite. Resentment is not a unifying platform, because the resenters resent each other as much as they do the opposition. The whole premise of left-wing politics has been daffy from day one, and the slapstick at the Iowa Caucuses is just life imitating art.