Last week, Jonathan Chait wrote an article, The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral. The argument that it makes is that there really is no lesson for the Democrats to learn from this election except, “Don’t nominate Hillary Clinton for president again.” Now I think this is wrong. I think that Joe Biden and Martin O’Malley would have lost — and likely in exactly the same way. But Chait couldn’t leave it at that and focus on the idea that the Democratic Party doesn’t really need to make any big changes. He had to spend a third of the article attacking Bernie Sanders.
Now if you read Chait regularly, you know why this is. Chait spent much of the primary talking about how it would be ridiculous to nominate Bernie Sanders because he would lose. Hillary Clinton was the smart choice. But now, she’s the dumb choice (in Chait’s mind). So he has to spend a bunch of time talking about how she was the dumb choice — just not as dumb as Sanders would have been. But this statement was hilarious, “Reporter Kurt Eichenwald, who saw the Republican Party’s opposition research on Sanders, called it ‘brutal’…”
Funny Opposition Research
Why do I find this funny? Because I’m sure that Reporter Kurt Eichenwald would have said the same thing about the Democratic Party’s opposition research on Trump. So it’s kind of hard to see how this makes any sense in an article that claims that, with a hat tip to William Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.” After all, Sanders could have lost the popular vote — getting 5 million fewer votes than Clinton — and still have been the next president. Brutal opposition research isn’t apparently as important as it used to be. (Actually, Bill Clinton showed that back in 1992.)
I’m not saying that Sanders would have won the election. I tend to think he would have lost for the same reasons that Clinton lost. I’ve blamed the loss on 1992 and the Democratic Party’s hard right turn. But I could as easily blame it on Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and their total disregard for organized labor over the past eight years. I think the Democratic Party has a branding problem. Was Hillary Clinton a bit too cozy with Goldman Sachs? Sure. But would that really have mattered if she had been running in the party of FDR? I don’t think so.
The Future of the Democratic Party
Of course, something is going on that isn’t being stated. There are a lot of people like Chait who really don’t want this election to be seen as a reason for the party to move to the left. And I really don’t want this election to be seen as a reason for the party to move to the right. I agree with Chait’s overall argument: there is nothing major to change in the Democratic Party. It has been moving to the left on economic issues and this is good. So we lost an election (even though millions more people voted for us)? So what?!
Now is not the time to go running home to the corporate “New” Democrats. They are not the future. All those black and brown people and all those followers of minority religions have something in common: they are mostly workers — and not terribly well paid ones either. The next time we get power (and it will be soon), we need to start producing for ordinary Americans. And guess what? They aren’t white; they’re brown. Welcome to the new America. Old white America: enjoy your last gasp.
Step one: get rid of that damned corporate logo and bring back the kicking ass!