Monday, June 10, 2019


In The Atlantic, Jemele Hill writes:
Trump Has Killed Democrats’ Sense of the Possible

To former Vice President Joe Biden’s benefit, electability has become the unofficial buzzword of the 2020 presidential campaign.

While it’s still early, most polls show Biden as the clear front-runner among Democrats.

... Biden’s elevation to front-runner is a testament to how much President Donald Trump has shaken the faith of those who believed the White House could better reflect what America looked like.

This is perhaps Trump’s most critical victory yet: successfully persuading Democrats—especially African American voters—not just to lower the bar, but to abandon the idea that inclusion and bold ideas matter more than appeasing the patriarchy.
Hill focuses on Biden's strong showing with black voters in most polls, even as Kamala Harris is rejected, in part for her criminal justice record -- which can't compare to that of Biden, who voted for the 1994 crime bill and still defends parts of it.

Are Democrats (of all races) too cowed by fear of electoral defeat to take a chance on Harris -- or Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or someone else who's more progressive than Biden? Are they now too timid to back a woman, a non-white candidate, or a gay candidate? There were good numbers for Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Harris in the latest Des Moines Register poll of Iowa, but Biden is still out front. Timidity might be the problem.

But does Trump deserve all the blame?

I don't think so. It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible after watching Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O'Rourke go down to defeat in 2018.

It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible as voting rights are curtailed, minor errors in voter registration drives are criminalized, and gerrymandering runs rampant.

It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible when Sandy Hook, Parkland, and dozens of other mass shootings have had no effect on gun laws except in a few deep-blue states, and pro-gun politicians have never been punished at the ballot box for their absolutism.

It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible when police brutality is captured on video every week or so, with no apparent impact on white public opinion or on public policy.

It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible when red state after red state is taking aim at Roe v. Wade, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans don't want it overturned, and again, most of the politicians spearheading these assaults on Roe will be handily reelected.

It's hard to maintain a sense of the possible when every progressive Obama administration initiative -- the Affordable Care Act, the warming of relations with Cuba, the Iran deal, the Clean Power Plan -- is under relentless assault from the Trump administration. It was also hard to maintain a sense of the possible during the Obama years -- the years of birtherism, Benghazi, dozens of votes to repeal the ACA, and massive resistance to the closure of Guantanamo, not to mention two wave elections that hamstrung Obama for the last six years of his term, even after he'd deferred to conservatives and centrists on health care reform, the stimulus, and regulation of the financial industry.

I could go on and on. I'm pleased that some progressives -- Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Jay Inslee -- inspire a belief that real change is possible. But bigots, throwbacks, and reactionaries continue to run rampant. The fact that more than 40% of Americans -- including a majority of white people -- still support Trump is dispiriting enough. But this comes on top of many years -- maybe half a century -- of right-wing backlash. And for black Americans, there was barely a moment of uplift before the backlash came.

So if Democratic voters are having trouble maintaining hope, you really can't blame them, and Trump is not the only reason.

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