Do you get the sense that it won’t be enough?
Do you get the sense that after all of Donald Trump’s outrages, his deceptions, his lies, his depravity, his chicanery, it still won’t be enough?
Do you get the sense that three years from now, the Democratic Party will still be divided along “establishment” vs. “progressive” lines, and won’t be able to focus on removing Trump from the White House?
The creepiest aspect of Trump’s tawdriness is the prospect that he could well get away with it if the Democratic Party doesn’t have its act together. Recent history has proven that when the Democratic Party is divided, years of chaos–and irreversible damage to the country and world–follow. What if the lessons of history are ignored again?
Two weeks ago, I speculated that perhaps the only way the Democratic Party could avoid a divisive 2020 primary was by unifying behind a candidate who could appeal to both the “establishment” and “progressive” wings of the party; I suggested that Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown might fit the bill. Let’s say Brown and other progressives run, but fail to secure the Democratic nomination. (When’s the last time someone considered an undisputed progressive won the Democratic presidential nomination, anyway?) Furthermore, let’s say that the nomination is won by a Democrat who has been lambasted by some members of the party’s base as “not progressive enough”–New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, perhaps, or New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, or former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (who was considered an undisputed progressive when he ran for the Bay State governorship in 2006, but who is now seen in certain circles as a “corporatist”). Will Democrats unify around that less-than-ideal Democratic nominee? Or will some Democrats listen to the siren song of a progressive third-party challenger?
Resisting the Trump agenda means not allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. It means not allowing the same arguments made by progressive opponents of “centrist” Al Gore in 2000 and “centrist” Hillary Clinton in 2016 to once again gain traction. It means fighting the real adversary, not the perceived one.
Speaking of Clinton, it has become fashionable to denigrate Bill Clinton from a progressive perspective, to suggest that he surrendered to right-wing interests, to proclaim that Clinton never did a thing for progressives. It was that mentality that led to the aforementioned scorn in some progressive circles for Gore, his Vice President, and Hillary Clinton, his wife. That Clinton broke a twelve-year Republican stranglehold on the White House has been forgotten. That he appointed sound, reasonable judges to the Supreme Court and the federal district and appellate courts has been dismissed. That he had a competent Cabinet has been disregarded.
Ask yourself, though: wouldn’t you rather have Janet Reno back over Jeff Sessions? Wouldn’t you rather have Carol Browner running the EPA over Scott Pruitt? Wouldn’t you rather have another Ginsburg or Breyer on the Supreme Court, rather than Neil Gorsuch?
Elections mean things, and parties mean things. The next Democratic nominee may not be an undisputed progressive, but isn’t it of the utmost importance to have a President who will listen (and respond) to progressive concerns, rather than blithely dismiss them as Trump does? Doesn’t anybody see the big picture?
From health care to climate change to reproductive rights, there are stark differences between what the two parties stand for when they control the Executive Branch; they are not clones of each other. If that reality is ignored again three years from now, the 2020s will be off to a very grim start.