I remember on election night when the film critic and political commentator, Ben Mankiewicz watched as Hillary’s fiasco unfolded and he said that, even if the Democrats squeak home, there won’t be a Democrat in the country who isn’t getting this and knows that they have to change. Well, they didn’t scrape out a victory, they lost, they lost miserably and they’re still not getting it. They’re not getting Sanders either because he’s a constant, jabbing reminder of their miserable failures. Liberals hate someone outflanking them on the left much more than they hate alt.-Mussolinis, it seems.
It’s partially just plain denial, as they thought that it was all a done deal from years out. The country’s demographic shifts strongly suggested a Democratic win was nailed on in 2016, indeed that was why the Republicans conducted their “autopsy” after 2012 because they could see it coming down the pike too. It’s partially that they like being the opposition and they like getting paid: all of that money while the Republicans have to run with the ball and make mistakes. They rather would have risked a Trump win than let Bernie go through because at least with Trump, they would keep their jobs. I’d have thought that the Democratic party big-wigs would have committed mass and public seppuku for managing to lose to the short-fingered, orange buffoon but they’re all still in positions of power.
Thing is, U.S. politics tends to be a pendulum. Yes, presidents tend to get a second term but Trump’s approval ratings are in the crapper to an historic, epic extent and they must be thinking that as long as they don’t run someone as toxic as Hillary again, it’ll be a shoo-in. A dangerous mindset: Trump – if he survives the Feds’, the media’s and CIA’s attempts to figuratively kneecap him – will have certain crowd-pandering rabbits primed to be pulled out of his hat at a time of his choosing and they could be enough for four more years of this maniac.
Bernie’s problem, progressives’ problem, is that they have no leverage, no crowbar to use against the Democratic party establishment. Nothing happens in politics without leverage: polite requests don’t work. No consequences, no forfeits are on the table. The party knows that they can treat the (actual) left like garbage because the electoral college dictates that the left has nowhere else to go. For all of the Democrats’ egregious whining about Trump’s electoral college win (suck it up: you knew going in that it was the ‘weapon of choice’. The popular vote win means nothing) the Democrats actually love the electoral college because it cements the Democrats as 50% of a two horse race. Without the electoral college, their useless party could splinter into liberals; neoliberals; greens; socialists etc. The electoral college acts as a gun to the head of all those left of the middle.
The establishment Democrats have the money and the media, they have the louder and bigger megaphone; they can set the agenda and can beat up on, and scapegoat, the left until their heart is content…..and they’ll continue to do so and I think they’ll win, get power back eventually and continue offering their milquetoast, morally bankrupt, neoliberal pablum.
However, search for ‘Nick Brana’, a guy who used to work for Sanders. He says that both the Republicans, with Lincoln, and the Democrats, with Andrew Jackson, came about from forming behind an already famous and successful figure. If Sanders did form a new party, if, say, Nina Turner, if Tulsi Gabbard, if Elizabeth Warren joined in then two things would happen. One is that, as we see in the article and the polls, Sanders kills with independents (more Americans now identify as independents than they do as ‘Republicans’ or ‘Democrats’). The new party would have much of the independents in their corner, the greens, many Trump Republicans (who’d like a real populist rather than a phony populist like Trump) and at least half of the Democratic party. Perhaps they could then make a real go at breaking the electoral college choke hold? The second possible result, though, is that the left would finally – finally! – have a crowbar, have some leverage to use against the Democratic party.
One of the many jokes of the 2016 election was when Hillary operatives and shills smugly drew attention to the American communist party’s endorsement of Hillary and the Democrats. How could Hillary be a “centrist Republican” if the communists support her, eh? She’s a progressive with wide appeal, no? Well, no. The CPUSA has always endorsed the Democrats for the past couple of decades because, again, it’s a two party system: you can choose any colour of hat – either grey or light grey – and no matter what the choices, one choice will be more amenable, however slightly.
The formation of a new progressive party, behind some widely-known names would, as a second prize, surely pull the Democratic party left. Then, once election time comes around, maybe then, like the CPUSA, they could deem a Democratic party who now have pledged, say, a green new deal; a restoration of Glass-Steagall, a single-payer health system, free college etc. worthy of support and direct everyone to vote ‘Democratic’ now that the Democrats have decided to actually stand for something, after having a figurative firearm put to their dome. It would be a coalition in all but name, run under the ballot access made simple banner of ‘The Democratic Party’.
I don’t think it would happen but I think that it’s the only way out of the cycle of big money dictating two corporate parties offering variations on a theme.