Monday, October 9, 2017

The Democrats' George McGovern Redux for 2020

I love this piece, from Alan Greenblatt, at Politico, "Are Democrats Headed for a McGovern Redux?":

As Trump continues his Nixonian campaign of white cultural-grievance politics, Democrats appear consumed by the same squabbles that destroyed them in 1972.

Four decades ago, Richard Nixon lived out the fantasy many liberals harbor about Donald Trump, stepping down in the face of possible impeachment over a slow-moving scandal long before his term was up. Before that happened, however, Nixon was reelected by a resounding margin, in large part because progressives made strategic errors that Democrats today appear hellbent on repeating.

In 1968, as in 2016, Democrats narrowly lost the White House after nominating a relatively moderate, establishment candidate instead of a more liberal alternative who had inspired a raging enthusiasm among younger voters. Democrats spent much of the next four years arguing about what direction the party should take. White working-class voters—traditionally a Democratic bloc—were sluicing away, and progressives, convinced the party needed to change both its policy direction and its coalition of supporters, demanded a new approach: a “loose peace coalition” of minorities, young voters and educated white Democrats, as strategist Fred Dutton wrote in his 1971 book, Changing Sources of Power. One year later, the party’s presidential nominee, the ultra-liberal Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, went on to lose 49 states in one of the most lopsided victories in American history.

We’re a long, long way from 2020, but it’s abundantly evident that Trump will again run a Nixonian campaign, tearing down his opponent and presenting himself as the champion of an aggrieved coalition that Nixon called the “silent majority” and Trump calls “the forgotten men and women” of America.

Consumed by internecine battles and the idea of opposition, Democrats run the risk of again nominating someone like McGovern who pleases progressives but steers a course too far from the country’s center of political gravity to win, even as Trump continues his funhouse mirror impression of Nixon as the avatar of white cultural-grievance politics.

Politics today are much different than they were then, as is the shape of the American electorate. But there are parallels that Democrats should bear in mind as they nurse their hopes of driving Trump from the Oval Office. Trump is a culture warrior, and progressives today are perfectly willing to engage that sideshow—just as they did 45 years with Nixon.

Look no further than the recent controversy over NFL players’ protests over police violence and racism, which Trump has successfully portrayed for most voters as an insult to men and women in uniform, the American flag, mom and apple pie.

“If the Democrats become the party of those in favor of kneeling rather than standing for the national anthem,” says historian Jeffrey Bloodworth, author of Losing the Center: A History of American Liberalism, 1968-1992, “that would be a full McGovern.”
Well, the electoral map today looks nothing like Nixon's 49 state blowout in 1972, but the comparisons are more than idle speculation. The Dems indeed are moving way to the left, and, frankly, the party's so ideological koo-koo it's like they're practically begging for a second Trump term.

Lol. One can only hope.

Keep reading.