Saturday, November 12, 2016

STEPHEN CARTER ON THE DEMOCRATS: KICK 'EM WHEN THEY'RE DOWN

Yale law professor Stephen Carter notes -- with more than a little satisfaction -- the dire state of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2016 elections:
... a Democratic Party that as recently as Monday imagined it had forged an electoral coalition sufficiently solid to stand for decades now lies in shambles. In 2018, the party must defend an astonishing 25 seats in their Senate caucus, many of them in states that Trump carried. “It’s going to be a disaster,” said one Democratic strategist -- and that was back when people thought Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in. Republicans control a record 69 of 99 state legislative chambers, and wound up with at least 33 governorships, the most since 1922. In short, the Democrats’ exile is likely to be lengthy.
I don't know anyone who ever thought Democrats had "an electoral coalition sufficiently solid to stand for decades" in the states, or in Congress -- remember that the 2014 elections left Demovrats with control of very few statehouses and state legislatures. At best, Democrats hoped to reverse some of those losses this year. But go on, Professor Carter. I believe you're going to tell us that the Democrats' further losses are a good thing.
... the left has work to do, not only on policy and organization but also on attitude. Too many of my progressive friends seem to have forgotten how to make actual arguments, and have become expert instead at condemnation, derision and mockery. On issue after issue, they’re very good at explaining why no one could oppose their policy positions except for the basest of motives. As to those positions themselves, they are too often announced with a zealous solemnity suggesting that their views are Holy Writ -- and those who disagree are cast into the outer political darkness. In short, the left has lately been dripping with hubris, which in classic literature always portends a fall.

My friends on the left have come to resemble a little too closely my friends on the right...
So let me see if I understand this correctly: Democrats are struggling at the ballot box because they're arrogant and believe they know it all -- just like Republicans. In that case, why aren't Republicans struggling? Why isn't their belief that they know it all costing them election after election?
What I hope happens ... is that liberals of the present day rediscover the virtues of the ascendant liberalism of the 1950s through the 1970s that Democrats seem to want to emulate. These virtues included a toleration for disagreement, an effort to avoid reducing complex issues to applause lines, and a fundamental humility as they went about governing. This doesn’t mean the old-style liberals didn’t believe, earnestly, that they were right on the issues. But they accepted that their nation was a diverse place, that their opponents were entitled to their say, that government should not try to do everything at once, and that policy should be made in a way that could create a working consensus.
Professor, you do know that the Democratic nominee this year was Hillary Clinton, don't you? A woman who's always been eager to reach across the aisle? A woman who avidly pursued Republican votes throughout the general-election campaign? A woman who bragged about many endorsements from Republicans?
... the lesson for liberals is that they have to get serious again -- not just about winning elections but also about taking opposition as a mark of an energetic politics rather than the Manichean manipulations of the forces of evil. The mark of a healthy democracy is the preference for argument rather than invective. Those are the roots the left must reclaim.
And you do know that the victorious Republican presidential candidate this year was Donald Trump, don't you, Professor? Someone who portrayed his opponent as (in your words) a "force of evil" throughout his campaign? Someone whose campaign was fifteen straight months of invective? And you realize that in four straight elections -- in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 -- Republicans have vowed to "take our country back" from Democrats, as if Democrats are usurpers rather than fellow citizens who've won elections?

I guess we're going to get a lot of these "I'm not a conservative, but aren't liberals awful?" hot takes. They never go out of fashion, do they?

8 comments:

Ms. L.B. said...

Steve M.: Word.

Jimbo said...

Wow, Carter's doing some serious insulting. He appears to have missed the entire Obama Administration never mind, as you say, the Clinton - Trump Campaign. The '50s and '60s were not about compromise. We had the vicious Republican-led McCarthyism in the '50s and the Civil Rights movement in both the 50's and '60s (you'd think Carter would get that, right?). I'm not going to apologize for Clinton or the Democrats. The Republican Party does not - absolutely does not - have America's best interests and future in mind. On the contrary, they want to wreck the country because they know they can get away with it - having done so more than once.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
main street liberal said...


Carter believes it would be nice if liberals "accepted that their nation was a diverse place, that their opponents were entitled to their say, that government should not try to do everything at once, and that policy should be made in a way that could create a working consensus."

Sounds like the Affordable Care Act.

Victor said...

Ah, another assclown who wants to troll liberals, and tell us what'd best for us!
FUCK OFF, DOUCHE-CANOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Justice.
NOT, 'just-us,' you professor of knowing jack-fucking-shit.

petrilli said...

This guy should join No Labels since they're star is rising so bullishly in the new paradigm, lol.

John Taylor said...

I'm not so sure about this scenario. Trump and the Republicans have got total control, to be sure. This means that any mistep is totally on them. All the horrible policies they push through will have to be answered for in 2018.

irate1 said...

You weren't expecting the projection to end last week, were you?