Elections

The Democrats Break Left

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren appear on television screens in the press room during the Democratic candidates debate in Detroit, Mich., July 30, 2019. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
They were just telling us they were the ‘moderates.’

The times, they are a-changin’ . . .

Ah, the good ol’ days of . . . April, or so, when conservative critics of the Democratic party could still count on being lectured to about the enduring moderation of Team Blue and chastised for paying so much attention to such figures as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) and Senator Bernie Sanders (a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) and claiming that these self-described socialists are the socialists they describe themselves as being, who want to “abolish capitalism” (the stated mission of the Democratic Socialists of America) and the traditional family to boot (“democratizing the family to get rid of patriarchal relations,” in the words of the Democratic Socialists of America), all of which, the usual media scolds tut-tutted, was unfair. “The Democratic party is the party of moderates,” as Politico magazine editor Bill Scher argued.

Somebody must have slipped some psilocybin into the Democrats’ potato salad at this year’s May Day picnic. Open borders? Check! Eviscerating the Bill of Rights? Absolutely, with one of those weird barbed Uncle Henry gut-hook knives! What else? I hope that whichever debate moderator finally presses this crew about the limits of late-term abortion is over 35, because Elizabeth Warren was pretty clearly ready to roll up her sleeves and perform an impromptu D&E right there underneath the Art Deco adornments and heavy brocade curtains of the Fox Theater in beautiful downtown Detroit.

Just a reminder: I’m the Case against Trump guy, the one who described Donald Trump as a half-assed would-be caudillo with a sensibility halfway between Caligula’s and Liberace’s. My anti-Trump credentials are platinum-plated and cryogenically sealed. And I’m telling you: These people are bonkers.

But don’t take my word for it. Let us consult the poetically named Lili Loofbourow.

“To watch Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders dominate onstage against their more moderate foils was to realize that their positions are no longer marginal,” writes La Loofbourow in Slate. “The moderate positions, the hoary, respectable ‘sensible’ positions, have been evacuated of the pragmatism that once gave them force. And so, while Biden’s back-to-Obama positions (rejoin the Paris agreement that is now clearly insufficient, keep the Affordable Care Act) have enough appeal to put him in the lead, the positions staked out by the 20 presidential candidates — most of whom are to Obama’s left — suggest a new center of gravity.”

That’s going to be a heck of a campaign slogan: “Generic Democrat 2020: Because Barack Obama Was Not Left-Wing Enough for America!”

In case you were wondering — and I know you were! — this is, like everything else that’s wrong in America, the fault of Mitch McConnell.

“Mitch McConnell has made the idea of governing by reaching across the aisle not just unworkable but fantastic,” Loofbourow insists. “No serious person can entertain the possibility that Democratic priorities can be achieved with Republican cooperation.”

To summarize: Democrats have moved far to the left. The loopy nutters who once were on the fringe of the party are now closer to the middle, and the slightly less loopy nutters — the nice confused lady from San Francisco! — represents the dead hand of moderation and (angels and minsters of grace defend us!) centrism. So radical has been this break that bipartisan compromise is impossible to contemplate. And this is . . .  Mitch McConnell’s doing. “The modern GOP has made the left’s case for it,” Loofbourow concludes. How so? Because Ronald Reagan was recorded making an ugly racist remark in a conversation with Dick Nixon in 1971.

I’m thinking here of the immortal words of Chip Monck: “The brown acid that is circulating around us is not specifically too good. It’s suggested that you do stay away from that. Of course, it’s your own trip, so be my guest.” Pity they canceled that Woodstock anniversary concert. Would have been a fitting spectacle for these days.

Donald Trump is, in some ways, an unlucky guy. You have to be kind of unlucky to lose your pants in the casino business. The poor sap evaded Vietnam only to get ruined in a pissing contest with Merv Griffin. But he is extraordinarily lucky in his opponents. And the Democrats apparently are engaged in a 50-state manhunt for somebody next to whom Donald J. Trump, late of The Apprentice and president of these United States of America, looks relatively — relatively! —reasonable.

Strange days, indeed.

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