A rare sane and sober Democrat considers his party’s prospects for the future:
Gianforte’s decisive victory over Democrat Rob Quist on Thursday has provoked a fresh round of soul-searching from the same people who made too damn much of the Montana election in the first place. We have been told that Democrats must field stronger candidates and commit more resources, that Bernie Sanders does not possess some magic elixir that attracts disgruntled white people and that Donald Trump remains popular in places where people really like him. If that’s not quite enough Captain Obvious, Washington Post columnist Greg Hohmann devoted an impressive amount of research and reporting to the Montana aftermath before arriving at the diagnosis that there is “a growing tribalism that contributes to the polarization of our political system.” You don’t say!
Let me be clear that I’m indicting myself here as well: I edit political coverage at Salon, and I followed the Montana news closely. I knew perfectly well how it was likely to turn out, but one can always be wrong about that (as we discovered last November), and I shared some dim sense that it might be cathartic to experience an insignificant proxy victory in a state I have never even visited. But when I ask myself why I felt that way, even a little, the answers are not edifying.
For many people in, let’s say, the left-center quadrant of the American political spectrum — especially those who are not all that eager to confront the fractured and tormented state of the current Democratic Party — Montana and Georgia and 2018 seem(ed) to represent the opening chapters of a comeback narrative, the beginning of a happy ending. If what happened in 2016 was a nonsensical aberration, then maybe there’s a fix right around the corner, and normal, institutional politics can provide it.
First you chip away at Republican triumphalism, and the House majority, with a couple of special-election victories. Then it’s about organizing, recruiting the right candidates for the right seats, registering voters and ringing doorbells, right? Democrats picked up 31 seats in the George W. Bush midterms of 2006 — and will need 24 or so this time — so, hey, it could happen. For that matter, Republicans gained an astounding 63 seats in the Tea Party election of 2010, and many observers have speculated that Trump-revulsion might create that kind of cohesion on the left. So we sweep away Paul Ryan and his sneering goons, give Nancy Pelosi back her speaker’s gavel after eight long years, introduce the articles of impeachment and begin to set America back on the upward-trending path of political normalcy and niceness.
I suspect it’s pointless to list all the things that are wrong with that scenario, because either you agree with me that it’s a delusional fantasy built on seven different varieties of magical thinking or you don’t, and in the latter case I am not likely to convince you.
My position is that Donald Trump is a symptom of the fundamental brokenness of American politics, not the cause. Electing a Democratic House majority (which is 95 percent unlikely to happen) and impeaching Trump (which is 100 percent not going to happen) might feel good in the moment, but wouldn’t actually fix what is broken. Considered as a whole, the “blue wave” fantasy of November 2018 is a more elaborate and somewhat more realistic version of the “Hamilton elector” fantasy of December 2016: Something will happen soon to make this all go away.
The situation is actually worse for Democratic Party than most Democrats realize. The Asian-Hispanic alliance is already beginning to revolt against the Jewish-White-Black dominance of the Democrats, or as they will soon enough be known, the Not-American Party. And the Republican Party cannot easily return to its establishment cuckery, because the Alt-Right’s articulation of the dyscivilizational activities of the Not-Americans is continually pushing the Overton Window towards ethno-nationalism.
This is why I have repeatedly pointed out that the Alt-Right is inevitable. All of the trends, regional, national, and international, continue to point in that direction.