Thursday, February 2, 2017

America's New Opposition: The Left Has Been Reborn

Well, I suppose there's something to the argument of a renewed left --- it makes sense with the Democrats out of power, and especially so in the aftermath of Donald Trump's crushing (extinction-level) defeat of Hillary Clinton. The collective left has gone insane. Our political system is in a constant state of partisan siege. It only makes sense that the most angry seeds of the leftist revolt will be found in the bilge of the progressive fever swamps.

From Jedediah Purdy, at the New Republic, "America’s New Opposition":

In late October 2011, I was volunteering at the Occupy Wall Street library in lower Manhattan. Tucked into a corner of Zuccotti Park, the library was staffed mainly by anarchists of an exceedingly orderly bent. If society were suddenly freed from coercive institutions like libraries, these people would gladly spend the morning sorting donated books by Dewey decimal number—as they were doing in the mild fall weather. I was there for only a few days, but one conversation with a book borrower has stayed with me. He was having trouble understanding why he kept returning to the encampment. He wondered: Had anything like this happened before? Were there books that could tell him who had done it, and why? I felt I was meeting a victim of a political shipwreck. In my mind, he became emblematic of a left that felt itself so unmoored from any shared past that it was puzzled by its own existence.

Now that Donald Trump occupies the White House, it’s easy to feel that we are all castaways in historical time. There is talk in some quarters of leaving the country, of turning blue cities and states into sanctuaries, not just for the undocumented, but for disillusioned liberals—a response that amounts to giving up on creating a just and inclusive democracy in this divided land. But such feelings of despair miss the deeper and perhaps more lasting political transformation that has taken place in the five years since Zuccotti Park.

Indeed, the irruption of radicalism at Occupy turned out to be prophetic. For the first time in decades, the left regained its focus and put down new roots. Fight for $15, the campaign for a higher minimum wage led by fast-food workers, made gains in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. Rolling Jubilee, founded in 2012, bought and canceled almost $32 million in medical and student debt. Black Lives Matter has forced America to reckon with police violence against black men and highlighted the economic isolation of many black communities. Last year, Bernie Sanders won more than 13 million votes. And recent polls show that a majority of Americans under the age of 30 now prefer socialism to capitalism. While it is unclear just what they mean by that, a renewed openness to radical ideas is unmistakable among young people. The mass protests in response to Trump’s policies, both at the women’s march and at airports around the country, in the last weeks show a sense of urgency and willingness to fight for robust legal equality and inclusiveness. At the very moment when establishment politics have been severely undermined—the GOP hijacked by Trump, the Democrats confounded by Hillary Clinton’s loss—the American left has been reborn.

For most of the 2016 election cycle, however, the left was told, implicitly or explicitly, that while they might be charming or admirable, they should leave real politics to the adults of the Democratic National Committee and the liberal commentariat. There was one candidate, we were assured, and one web of institutions and experts who understood how to get things done: They were battle-tested and ready to win, then to hit the ground governing. The rest of us had pretty sentiments; it was sweet that we thought the word democracy could refer to something larger in ambition and imagination than the current version of the Democratic Party; but politics means putting away childish things.

In the wake of Trump’s victory in November, the present leadership of the Democratic Party has failed to grasp the lessons of its own defeat. “I don’t think people want a new direction,” Nancy Pelosi insisted on Meet the Press just after the election. The DNC doubled down on that position in early January, announcing the creation of an anti-Trump “war room” staffed with Clinton operatives who will continue attacking Trump’s ethics, character, and speculative ties to Russia. This is the same strategy that failed to win the presidential election against a palpably flawed and eminently beatable candidate.

Though fragmented and incipient, this nascent left is now best placed to mount a convincing opposition to Trump, and to engage with the forces that brought him to power. With its focus on economic inequality and collective action, the left knows things that liberals have been reluctant to acknowledge, or in any event to say—knowledge that is necessary to embrace the populist moment, push back on its reactionary inclinations, and seize its progressive potential. The left is able to diagnose the malfunctioning of our democracy because, unlike the Democratic establishment, it starts from the premise that American democracy as it is currently constituted is profoundly insufficient...
An interesting, although profoundly mistaken analysis. Hillary Clinton ran far to the left, much farther than her 2008 campaign, and farther left than both of Barack Obama's campaigns.

The Democrats lost not just because Crooked Hillary was a disaster waiting to happen, it's simply that the electorate repudiated leftism. What we're seeing now, all across the board, especially with the increasing violence, is going to help the Republicans. For all of Donald Trump's flaws, and he's got many, he keeps winning. And it's so early. I do think we're in for perpetual outrage and the concomitant never-ending street protests. In the end what will matter is good governance. Democrats are making massive gambles at this very minute with literally unhinged obstructionism. The voters will see more of the same and punish the "establishment," which is best represented now by the progressive-collectivist elite.

But continue reading.