It’s time to face the fact that politics is dead in America. What Trump proved by winning while breaking every rule of political campaigning except reading the mood of the people, what the Democrats proved by slavishly following those rules while ignoring that mood, is that there is no longer any real political sense in either party. Republicans have focused for so long on trying to manipulate the electorate rather than win them over that they have lost sight (if they ever had it) of their political goals to become a party of orthodox ideology. They try to bend people to their will rather than bend to the people’s. The Democrats, by contrast, have been taken over by functionaries who think they know what people want even though they’ve never asked them and refuse to listen when they’re told.
The failure of Democrats to beat a “vulgar talking yam” has occasioned no real re-thinking, realignment, or even reassessment in the party itself. Democrat operatives have so far seemed, rather, to be obsessed with pointing fingers outside themselves. To read their tweets and articles is to encounter a host of outside responsible forces – Sanders, Putin, a clickbait media, ominous “Third Party voters” (the Nader Effect), Bernie bros, Comey, and so on. It’s a long list that even includes a belated awareness that racism and misogyny may be more prevalent in the electorate than previously believed.
What the list does NOT include is either the candidate or the party itself, which is of course where the real blame lies.
Maybe you’d think that would be too much to expect from human beings – honest criticism of their own obvious failure – if it weren’t for one salient factor. This was politics.
Until recently politics in America has traditionally, historically been an exercise in practicality. A “politician” was someone who reacted to the perceived “will of the people” and adjusted her approach to include as much of it as possible, thus the myth of the Great Center. Perhaps the most glaring (because relevant) example was the Socialist/populist uprising at the beginning of the Great Depression when the success of socialist Eugene Debs, among others, caused FDR to absorb populist ideas into the Democratic party platform and his own campaign.
This past summer, the Democrat party faced a similar challenge. But instead of adjusting to the Sanders success and absorbing that success into their approach, they concentrated on destroying his candidacy. Then, having done that, they completely ignored what made it successful – the opposite of the political decision made by Roosevelt’s Democratic Party which led to 50 years of Democratic hegemony.
Politics is, perhaps more than anything else, the art of listening and then materializing what you’ve heard. This year both parties were so focused on their own agendas that neither could be bothered. Trump and Sanders were the only ones who listened.