To a Democratic leader, defeatism is poetry. Failure leads to lethargy. It allows legislators to shrug sadly and mumble to voters, “We tried,” for policy or bills these legislators didn’t want anyway. The latest Charie Brown is the usually reliable Greg Sargent, who saw what happened during Tuesday’s vote for Amway heiress and charter school shill Betsy DeVos and saw only ruination. This proved a most welcome afflatus for a column shrouded in sackcloth. “One key takeaway here must be that it constitutes a brutal reality check for Democrats about the long and difficult slog they face in the near future.” The brutal reality check happened during the seconds when Donald J. Trump put his hands on the Bible to take the oath of office; I “took away” that if liberals were going to keep if not win new seats in 2018 they would have to kick the seats from under Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
The question is what will happen to the spirit among Democrats amid more demoralizing losses — and once it sinks in that the nonstop awfulness of Trump isn’t going away, which itself could exacerbate the demoralization. Indeed, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg tells me that Democratic lawmakers confide they are already worrying about this problem, based on what they are seeing back home. “It is clear that Democrats on the Hill are acutely aware of their challenge,” Rosenberg says. “They have very little power to block Trump, yet they are getting a clear message from their partisans back home that they expect results.”
After years of running this place, I have learned to distrust any sentence that begins with the subject-verb construction “The question is” — a hamhanded attempt to shove an unattributed opinion into a cluster of ostensible facts.
Worse, Simon Rosenberg may be a nice man who hands out Turkish delight to poor children, but he speaks in the boilerplate of an employee reading from the bosses’ script. Any Democrat “demoralized” by the losses is a Democrat who cannot face facts, which I’ll admit is a possibility because we’re dealing with the Democratic Party. The GOP has a comfortable minority in the House and a slim one in the Senate, its ephemerality proven during the DeVos confirmation when Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie on a Cabinet nominee for the first time in the Republic’s history. By repeating mothballed wisdom, Sargent is egging Democratic staffers into persuading bosses to ignore the urgency of progressive activists. The Democratic Party has been obliterated at the state level because their organizational prowess is non-existent and the upper echelons are corporatists not much different from the sitting members of Donald J. Trump’s Cabinet except they’re cool with guys kissing and supporting abortion access. I can’t disagree with Glenn Greenwald’s indictment against the party:
a defense of jobs-killing free trade agreements that big corporate funders love; an inability to speak plainly, without desperately clinging to focus-grouped, talking-points scripts; a petrified fear of addressing controversial issues even (especially) when they involve severe human rights violations by allies; a religious-like commitment never to offend rich donors; and a limitless willingness to publicly abase oneself in pursuit of power by submitting to an apology ritual for having told the truth.
Greg Sargent’s column is an affirmation of the fog of despair in which Democratic satraps want to enshroud activists just as we’re mobilizing our biggest shows of resistance.