Thursday, January 02, 2020


Here's an exchange I keep thinking about:

In Alice's dichotomy, I'd probably be categorized as a "Resistance liberal." I'm not planning to vote for Bernie Sanders; I still intend to pick Elizabeth Warren if she's in the race when the New York primary rolls around. Yet I didn't think America in the Obama years "was basically fine." I fault Obama and his fellow Democrats for not pushing the country further to the left, but I lay most of the blame where I think it properly belongs: with Republicans and the white voters who just keep electing them, and with media centrists who insist that Democrats should always meet Republicans halfway (or more), even though the centrists make no similar demands on Republicans when they're in power, and even though Republicans keep moving the goalposts farther to the right.

I'm no angrier about Trump than I was about George W. Bush during in his presidency or about Ronald Reagan during his. Reagan ended the gains working people had made in America since FDR; our present inequality results from his assaults on the tax code and the union movement. Bush continued that work. He also started two wars we can't end, the second of which was a ruinous war of choice, while making America a proud torturer -- and, of course, looked the other way while the masters of the universe crashed the global economy. Trump is awful, but he has a way to go before he's done as much harm as those presidents.

And none of it is exogenous. The Republican Party, which has been radical and extreme for at least forty years, is the way it is because American capitalists made it that way. Republican before Trump used dog whistles to stir up the nativist anger Trump appeals to overtly.

I didn't think America was fine under Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. I thought it was a country made much worse by Republican ideology. I was grateful for any improvements. I'll feel the same way if any Democrat -- including Bernie -- is elected in 2020. That Democrat won't fully heal America. It's too grievously wounded with every exercise of power by a Republican.

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