After Hillary Clinton’s Defeat, The Battle For The Democratic Party’s Soul Begins

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Wealthy Liberal donors to the Democratic Party are debating whether to double down on their identity politics and victimhood culture-based strategy or to attempt meaningful outreach to the white working classes whom they so conspicuously cut adrift in 2016

And so the post-election autopsy begins, as analysts slice open the carcass of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign and methodically pick through the vital organs to determine what possible failure allowed a well-funded presidential campaign that has effectively been running for over a decade to go down in flaming defeat at the hands of Donald Trump.

Politico reports that the hilariously named Democracy Alliance (a group of mega-rich Democratic Party donors using their wealth to tilt the scales of genuine democracy every bit as much as the “evil” Koch brothers) is holding an emergency meeting at the Washington DC Mandarin Oriental hotel to thrash out the issues:

George Soros and other rich liberals who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton are gathering in Washington for a three-day, closed door meeting to retool the big-money left to fight back against Donald Trump.

The conference, which kicked off Sunday night at Washington’s pricey Mandarin Oriental hotel, is sponsored by the influential Democracy Alliance donor club, and will include appearances by leaders of most leading unions and liberal groups, as well as darlings of the left such as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Keith Ellison, according to an agenda and other documents obtained by POLITICO.

The meeting is the first major gathering of the institutional left since Trump’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in last week’s presidential election, and, if the agenda is any indication, liberals plan full-on trench warfare against Trump from Day One. Some sessions deal with gearing up for 2017 and 2018 elections, while others focus on thwarting President-elect Trump’s 100-day plan, which the agenda calls “a terrifying assault on President Obama’s achievements — and our progressive vision for an equitable and just nation.”

However, there are now murmurings of discontent among some of the Democrats present, who claim that persisting with the same tired, clapped out old ideas and electoral strategies will not reverse their sliding fortunes:

Yet the meeting also comes as many liberals are reassessing their approach to politics — and the role of the Democracy Alliance, or DA, as the club is known in Democratic finance circles. The DA, its donors and beneficiary groups over the last decade have had a major hand in shaping the institutions of the left, including by orienting some of its key organizations around Clinton, and by basing their strategy around the idea that minorities and women constituted a so-called “rising American electorate” that could tip elections to Democrats.

That didn’t happen in the presidential election, where Trump won largely on the strength of his support from working-class whites. Additionally, exit polls suggested that issues like fighting climate change and the role of money in politics — which the DA’s beneficiary groups have used to try to turn out voters — didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory.

“The DA itself should be called into question,” said one Democratic strategist who has been active in the group and is attending the meeting. “You can make a very good case it’s nothing more than a social club for a handful wealthy white donors and labor union officials to drink wine and read memos, as the Democratic Party burns down around them.”

This blog (and many others) have already written extensively that the cynical decision by the Democrats and the American Left in general to wage a relentless identity politics war against the Right is not only misguided, but actively polarising the country, as continued efforts to label working class white people as privileged “oppressors” will only further encourage them to form into a cohesive identity group of their own – the very one which elected Donald Trump as the next president.

Obsessing endlessly about the politics of race, gender and sexuality at a time when many Americans are either suffering economically or teetering on the brink of real economic insecurity is a privilege only available to the type of people who meet at the Mandarin Oriental to naively ask one another how anybody could possibly not have wanted Hillary Clinton to be the next president. To anybody else, the narrow interests and shrill, hectoring tone of the Democratic Party are an irrelevance at best and a source of supreme annoyance and alienation at worst.

People living in towns decimated by the loss of skilled manufacturing don’t want to be told that it is actually a good thing that their air pollution-causing factory closed down and took their job with it, or that they are borderline racists and bigots for not immediately adopting the latest social justice buzzwords spewing out of the university system. Yet the Democrats had little of value to say to the white working classes, the candidate herself clearly much more at home among the Wall Street and progressive celebrity class, spending the night before the election partying with the likes of Beyoncé rather than showing any empathy for struggling voters in the so-called rust belt.

Unfortunately, other delegates seem so wedded to the present profile of the Democratic Party that they believe that change is neither necessary nor desirable.

The Politico report continues:

“We should not learn the wrong lesson from this election,” said the operative, pointing out that Clinton is on track to win the popular vote and that Trump got fewer votes than the last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. “We need our people to vote in greater numbers. For that to happen, we need candidates who inspire them to go to the polls on Election Day.”

In other words – keep pursuing the SJW vote, even though many of these people have proven that the limit of their political activism is sharing a smug little meme on social media rather than taking the trouble to actually walk to their local polling place and participate in democracy.

This is abysmal advice, not only because it places the future hopes of the Democrats on the shoulders of people who have never once come through for the party, while many of those young people who were politically engaged are probably still smarting from the party’s frantic efforts to thwart Bernie Sanders and allow the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the eventual presidential candidate. That’s one very valid reason, but the other reason is that no party should actively seek to write off the votes of such a large constituency as the white working class. Even if the Democrats could win without the core of America, what does it say about the party that they don’t even bother with meaningful outreach?

Of course, one could level exactly the same criticism at the Republican Party, who for too long have been more than happy to cede the black and growing Hispanic vote largely to the Democrats rather than highlighting the many ways that conservative policy actually often meshes far more closely with some of their concerns (e.g. the Hispanic focus on the family). Indeed, the 2012 Growth & Opportunity Project report outlined a path toward better engagement with these communities and might have started to pay dividends in 2016 had the party not decided to tear it up and focus on complete obstructionism toward Barack Obama instead.

But while it is undeniable that the Republican Party has serious issues of its own – not only relating to minority outreach, but also a more fundamental question of how much to accommodate or push back against president-elect Trump’s authoritarian, big government instincts – it is the Democrats who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and who twice in two decades managed to lose a presidential election despite winning the national popular vote. The onus is on the Democrats first and foremost to work out what they stand for in 2016.

More encouraging than the billionaire talking shop underway at the Mandarin Oriental – a sign of just how disconnected the modern Democratic Party has become from its former roots – is defeated primary candidate Bernie Sanders’ efforts to wrest control of the party away from the dull, visionless centrists who have nothing to offer once you strip away the thin veneer of jealous identity politics.

In another Politico piece entitled “Bernie’s Empire Strikes Back“, we learn:

Supporters of Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential bid are seizing on Democratic disarray at the national level to launch a wave of challenges to Democratic Party leaders in the states.

The goal is to replace party officials in states where Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton during the acrimonious Democratic primary with more progressive leadership. But the challenges also represent a reckoning for state party leaders who, in many cases, tacitly supported Clinton’s bid.

“I think the Bernie people feel very strongly that they were abused, somehow neglected during the primary process and the conventions,” said Severin Beliveau, a former Maine Democratic Party chairman who supported Sanders in the primary. “In Maine, for instance, where Bernie got 70 percent of the caucus vote, they are emboldened and in effect want to try to replace [Maine Democratic Party chairman] Phil Bartlett, who supported Clinton.”

[..] The movement outside Washington to install new leadership — especially new leaders whose progressive credentials include support for Sanders’ presidential bid — mirrors the battle in the nation’s capital for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship in the wake of the devastating Clinton defeat and congressional elections where Democrats failed to win back either the House or the Senate. Sanders has endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison, leading House progressive and a prominent backer of his presidential campaign, to be the next permanent DNC chairman.

While this blog disagrees with Bernie Sanders on nearly everything, Hillary Clinton’s defeated primary opponent does at least correctly identify many of modern America’s ailments and propose more authentically (if flawed) left-wing solutions to them. And one can plausibly argue that Sanders has a greater ability to reach out to unionised or working class America than Clinton displayed (though one can only wistfully imagine how much better Joe Biden would have been in this role).

Better still, Bernie Sanders seemed to have comparatively little time for peddling in divisive identity politics. Rather than seeking to fracture America into a thousand competing victimhood groups, each one jealously guarding its own unique set of grievances against the common oppressor, Sanders has consistently more interested in the wealth divisions in society. And while playing rich and poor off against one another in quite such an overt way as the openly socialist Sanders comes with its own set of problems, on balance it is probably much less harmful to the fabric of America than seeking to divide and stoke up fear based on race, gender or sexuality.

Indeed, the fact that Bernie Sanders frequently found himself on the wrong side of Black Lives Matter and the gun control lobby only proves his resonance with the great core of working class America rather than the ultra-progressives. If only Sanders didn’t hug the S-word (socialism) quite so tightly in a country where people are (rightly, in this blog’s view) raised to be automatically suspicious of it, he might have prevailed over Clinton in the primary and taken the fight to Donald Trump on a number of very different fronts.

In short, as during the primary season, none of the options facing the Democratic Party are greatly appealing. Having taken conspicuously little interest in white working class concerns throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, any efforts to restart outreach will be met with scepticism at first, and take time to pay dividends.

But for their own sake, the Democrats must persist. The alternative – doubling down on their toxic identity politics strategy and continuing to carve America up into competing victim groups and seeking to make them all fear the Evil Republicans – will only inspire an equal and opposite reaction among America’s largest minority group, the white working class.

In 2016, this strategy brought us president-elect Donald Trump. Do the Democrats really want to roll the dice and bet that the same inputs will deliver a better outcome in 2020?

 

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Top Image: Wikimedia Commons

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OscarsSoWhite: The Self-Flagellating, Social Justice Academy Awards

Chris Rock - Oscars Monologue - OscarsSoWhite

Chris Rock’s opening monologue was brilliant – but bombarding Oscars viewers with four hours of social justice preaching was too much, and served the messengers far more than the causes they promoted

At the opening of Chris Rock’s excellent hosting of the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, the comedian made a joke which sets some very important and much-needed context for the #OscarsSoWhite and social justice-obsessed debate leading up to the star-studded ceremony.

From the New York Times transcript of Chris Rock’s remarks:

It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. O.K.?

You gotta figure that it happened in the 50s, in the 60s — you know, in the 60s, one of those years Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say ‘62 or ‘63, and black people did not protest.

Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.

You know, when your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.

It is great to see Chris Rock – incidentally, one of the many high profile comedians who now refuse to perform on American college campuses because of the stultifying and censorious climate created by Social Justice Warrior (SJW) activists – making this point, which frequently gets lost in our climate of perpetual outrage.

(Though sadly, because everything and everyone is “problematic” these daysand because Social Justice Warriors ruin everythingthe bien pensant criticism of Rock’s monologue is already gathering steam).

Is it perhaps unfortunate that there were no black nominees among the various acting categories? Maybe so – although it was hardly statistically unlikely, given the fact that African Americans make up just thirteen per cent of the US population. But the mere fact that we are now arguing about whether black actors (Hispanics and other minorities seemed to do quite well in terms of winning awards) are being systematically excluded from the ultimate expression of Hollywood elitism shows in itself just how far we have come.

This is not to negate the very real discrimination against black people which still exists, particularly in the criminal justice system and law enforcement – notably several high profile killings of unarmed black suspects by the police. This blog covered the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri and I offered my own sympathetic perspective from having spent many months and years visiting the St. Louis area.

But one has to go back only a few short decades to encounter a time when the threat to “black bodies” (a strange term which is increasingly fetishised in the media – particularly through use by writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, whom I greatly admire even when we disagree) was far more universal, and not primarily the concern of black teenagers murdered while committing a minor misdemeanor, or black actors shunned by the movie industry.

What became increasingly concerning as the Oscars wore on, though, was the fact that Chris Rock’s excellent, light-hearted but pointed acknowledgement of the controversy and the shortcomings of Hollywood, was only the first salvo in a barrage of social justice virtue-signalling and white guilt self-flagellation which ultimately consumed the entire ceremony. Every segment between awards seemed to have to involve conspicuous references to the #OscarsSoWhite drama, which became grating and unnecessary after awhile.

Some people were quick to sanctimoniously declare that this was deserved:

https://twitter.com/gmgannon/status/699455425633243137

Because not only does every occasion now have to be a teaching moment for the social justice agenda, the point must be laboured again and again. Not because it does anything to actually improve the availability of good roles for black actors in Hollywood, but because each presenter who touched on the theme was then able to imbue themselves with the same “I’m part of the solution, not the problem aura”.

This reached a heady climax when Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance on stage to introduce Lady Gaga and plug his campaign against sexual assaults at college. While every decent person should be able to get behind the idea that nobody should be raped while studying at university, or indeed at any other time, this was then followed by the pernicious idea that “It’s on us” (i.e. perfectly innocent members of the public) to prevent rape.

The organisation promoted by Vice President Biden, ItsOnUs.org, asks us to take the following actions in our own lives:

To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.

To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.

To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.

To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

The first pledge seems perfectly reasonable. But the remainder seek to transform us into perpetually vigilant informants and secret police agents, scanning crowds and charging to intervene in situations where we are uncertain that consent has been given, even when we lack critical context.

The idea that the average person will ever have the opportunity to “intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given” is particularly ludicrous – but these days, one can quite easily imagine squads of purse-lipped student “consent educators” roaming popular nightspots and breathalysing couples leaving bars and clubs to ensure that sexual relations do not follow the consumption of beer (heaven forfend).

But scroll to the end of the ItsOnUs website and you’ll see the only possible tangible outcome of the campaign – the ability to superimpose the organisation’s logo on to your social media profile picture, thus allowing those who take the pledge to ostentatiously parade their “I, too, am not a rapist” credentials before their equally vapid friends.

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The idea that college campus rape can be prevented by mandatory sexual consent workshops, “raising awareness” or taking online pledges in a blaze of self-promotion is utterly ludicrous. Nobody who has been raised since childhood to disrespect women or act in a sexually entitled and bullying way is going to be reformed or turned away from committing rape by being lectured by an earnest Social Justice Warrior. The revolution which must happen is in our homes, our morals and our family life, and will not be accomplished through lectures from the stage of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

But words are very much the SJW tool of choice, and the extent to which language is being weaponised in furtherance of a certain narrow agenda again became much clear later in the Oscars ceremony.

The BBC reported:

And oh, were there causes! A whole smorgasboard of enlightened liberal issues, as if everyone thought they had to live up to the tone of noble chastisement set by the diversity issue. Lady Gaga, seated at a starkly lit white piano, sang ’Til It Happens to You, the song she wrote for the campus-rape documentary The Hunting Ground, and though it’s a lugubrious number, her goggle-eyed manner seemed like an attack on the audience.

The movement for transgender rights was propped up by several mentions of the forward-thinking phrase “gender confirmation surgery”.

This, of course, is in relation to the film “The Danish Girl”, the biographical portrayal of the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of sex change surgery, who transitioned from male to female.

Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar nominated performance was by all accounts outstanding, and the issues raised about the prejudice, discrimination and abuse suffered by many transgender people are real and worthy of serious discussion. But this cannot come at the expense of our language and our shared perception of reality, and unfortunately the attempt to shoe-horn the new phrase “gender confirmation surgery” (as opposed to gender reassignment surgery) into the Oscars ceremony does just that.

You may recall attempts in the more conservative, right-wing media over the past decade to re-name suicide bombings as “homicide bombings”. This seemed to stem from the feeling that to focus on the suicide of the perpetrator gave undue prominence to the terrorist and detracted from the victims, which was of particular concern to conservative news outlets covering terrorist attacks against Israel and the West.

Unfortunately, the phrase “homicide bombings” also sows confusion, obfuscates reporting and makes it much harder for people to understand what has taken place. All bombings (or all successful ones, anyway) are homicide bombings by definition, since their purpose is to kill people. But not all bombings also involve the deliberate suicide of the perpetrator in the explosion. This is a characteristic unique to suicide bombing, and is what makes it distinct from, say, the IRA’s bombing of the 1984 Conservative Party conference in Brighton, England, where the bomber set the explosive device a month prior to the attack and was well out of harm’s way when it took place.

Regular bombing versus suicide bombing – an important distinction in terms of terrorist tactics is mirrored and emphasised by a difference in language. In the case of suicide bombing, the language rightly calls our attention to the unique aspect of that style of attack. Calling it “homicide bombing” makes such attacks indistinguishable from any other terrorist attack, and actively decreases our understanding. Some conservatives believe that this mangling of language is nonetheless desirable in order to express our particular disapproval of suicide bombing. Most sensible people would scoff at such a fatuous and superficial idea.

And this is exactly what we saw take place on stage at the Oscars last night. Not a suicide bombing, thank God. But an attempt to forcibly change the language we use, stripping away the most descriptive part of a commonly used phrase like “gender reassignment surgery” by substituting the word “confirming” instead, in order to bestow our further approval on the act.

Prevailing sentiment dictates – quite probably correctly – that transgender people are born into the wrong bodies, and that surgery which physically changes their genitalia and appearance is therefore merely correcting a mismatch between physical reality and mentally experienced reality. But now, it is no longer politically correct to talk about somebody changing their gender through means of surgery, because that sounds too drastic. Now we must say that the surgery merely “confirms” their existing, mentally experienced gender. Surgically removing a penis and creating an artificial vagina can no longer be described truthfully as a medically significant and life-changing physical alteration, but merely a “confirmation” of someone’s inner being.

Regardless of one’s thoughts about transgender issues, there should be no disputing that forcibly mutilating our shared language just to signal our approval or disapproval of an act – at the expense of clear meaning – is not merely an act of wishful thinking, trying to conjure a new reality by stating it loudly enough, but is also a bleakly totalitarian way to approach the issue. And yet this, too, was preached to us during the Oscars ceremony.

All in all, it was quite an evening.

White privilege-shaming in nearly every segment. Sexual consent shaming from no lessa figure than the Vice President. All capped off with a deliberate attempt to wrest control of the English language, bending it away from reality and toward to the will of the Social Justice Warriors and their remarkably intolerant form of tolerance.

And this is just Hollywood – that bastion of progressive opinion – talking to itself, preaching fervently to the choir.

If this is what they are prepared to inflict on themselves, God only knows what forms of indoctrination, shaming and corrective punishment lie in store for the rest of us.

 

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