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marylandblue's Journal
marylandblue's Journal
December 27, 2016

How to fight Trump with Progressive Populism

This should be required reading for all Democrats. Really gets to the heart of Sanders surprise appeal, and more importantly, how to respond to Trump.

Progressive populism is worlds apart from right-wing populism, but it is nonetheless susceptible to its own kinds of blind spots and dangers, especially concerning racial justice. To be clear, in an anti-establishment era like the one we’re in, the alternative to building progressive populism is to cede the “populist space” to dangerous reactionaries, which is a far more dangerous prospect for the interests of both racial and economic justice. Incidentally, that’s precisely the situation we’re in at the moment. But if and when we regain the populist momentum, we have to do better than previous struggles have done. The central fissure that has prevented progressive political alignment throughout the history of the United States is the tension between racial justice and economic justice frameworks. That tension played out in 2016 — dramatically in the Sanders campaign — and it will continue to be a very real tension for a long time to come. But we can step up to navigate it conscientiously and strategically. We can build a progressive populism that centers both racial justice and economic justice, and whose leadership reflects the diversity of a multiracial alignment of social forces. The millennial generation, with its promising new wave of social movements — from Black Lives Matter to immigrant Dreamers to Occupy Wall Street — may just produce leaders capable of doing this better than others have been able to do in the past. It will not be easy, but that is the task.

But how can this be the path forward not just for progressives but also for the Democratic Party if the party establishment is actively resisting such a direction? There are only two answers to this question: We’ll have to either persuade them or replace them. More precisely, once we prove capable of replacing some of them, we will have the power to persuade others. We have to start right now.


December 12, 2016

The Uncomfortable View from 1824

Or, what our real problem is

"Americans elites in 1824 successfully prevented a demagogue from assuming the presidency. The demagogue, Andrew Jackson, won a clear plurality of the popular votes and a small plurality of electoral votes...This elite success was short-lived. ..Jackson, who received only 41 percent of the popular vote in 1824, received 56% of the vote in 1828... Jackson and his allies in Congress sponsored a genocidal removal of native Americans from the south, substantially increased national support for human bondage, created a recession by destroying the national banking system, put an end to internal improvements, and scuttled plans for a national university. Jackson’s bellicosity set in motion the events that led to the Mexican War and probably, the events that led to the Civil War...

"American elites were right to perceive a constitutional crisis in 1824, but they misperceived that crisis. Jefferson, Madison, the Adams clan, and other persons associated with the framing generations loathed Andrew Jackson, a person they correctly regarded as constitutionally unsuited for the presidency because of his bigotry, proclivity to violence and lack of knowledge about public affairs. The actual constitutional crisis in 1824 was that a substantial percentage of American voters enthusiastically cast their ballots for a person constitutionally unsuited for the presidency because of his bigotry, proclivity to violence and lack of knowledge about public affairs....

"The lesson 1824 should teach 2016 is that the approximately 47% of voters who cast ballots for Donald Trump on election day is the most fundamental crisis of our time rather the accidental outcome that a person grossly unfit for the presidency was elected this time. A nation in which 47% of the voters are willing to vote for a person patently unqualified to be president of the United States (or Treasurer of the Linden Community Civil Association for that matter) is a nation in deep constitutional trouble regardless of whether by accidents of timing and whether that candidate wins or loses...

"we need to follow Abraham Lincoln, who spent almost no time during the 1850s persuading the already persuaded that the three-fifths rule was unfair and a good deal of time persuading crucial voters (by the rules of the time) that both their principles and their self-interest were better served by Republicans than Jacksonian Democrats. One hopes this lesson is learned in less than thirty years."


Edited to correct title

December 3, 2016

I found this article soothes my fears

Suggests that Donald Trump will be a "disjunctive" president, where conservativism finally fails and he is the sort of president who ushers in a surprising shift to dominance by the other party. Not that a Trump presidency will be a bed of roses, far from it, but if history is a guide there is light at the end of the tunnel.-


November 21, 2016

Donald Trump as the last Reaganite

Series of two articles on 4 possible ways the Trump presidency may play out and how it would look if he is the last gasp of the Reagan regime. It's good news for 2020 Democrats, but it will be a very bumpy ride in the meantime.


How will we know whether Trump is a disjunctive president or is a reconstructive president who is about to establish a new Trumpian regime? We really won't know for some time. But the central difference is that in reconstructive presidencies, the new leader unites an energized party around a common set of values, interests, and agendas that overwhelms the political opposition. In a disjunctive presidency, the new leader can't keep his party's coalition together and so it is every person for him or herself. This lack of unity allows the opposition party to grow stronger and enables the opposition to seize the political agenda in the next election. (Again, think of the period between 1976 and 1980, or between 1824 and 1828)




November 18, 2016

Matt Bai's postmortem

Basically, the party’s leading funders and operatives decided that they didn’t have to pander to white people living outside of cities anymore, because with each passing year their voters were cementing a new majority and redrawing the electoral map. Every election now was going to be a turnout election; get the people who already agree with you to the polls, and you don’t have to worry very much about persuading anyone else...

...And so this was Hillary’s driving theory of the race. Her campaign was effectively nothing but a giant turnout operation, crunching data on reliable Democratic voters while simultaneously keeping the candidate herself from saying anything remotely interesting. She ran on a database, rather than on an argument; the more Trump alienated and motivated her base, the less she felt the need to make any discernible case...

...But the Cult of Demography was built on some very flawed assumptions...

... even if you buy that a Democrat can maximize turnout among minorities and the already converted, it doesn’t mean you can simply forget about everyone else. In politics, how well you do among your own constituencies isn’t all that matters; there’s also the question of just how poorly you do among the groups you can’t win.

An analysis by The Hill newspaper found that while Clinton actually performed better than Obama in the most densely populated counties of states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, she trailed him by much larger margins in the all-white rural areas, which sealed her defeat.

Why? Because she never so much as looked in their direction...



November 16, 2016

Clinton lost because she's an insider

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's an enduring myth in American politics, we always want outsiders to come in and fix things. Five of the last six presidents have been Washington outsiders when they ran for their first term. The only except was Bush Sr. Obama was a Senator, but he was barely two years into his first term when he announced his candidacy. I think he realized that his best shot was before he got tainted as just another Washington politician. Now in this election, we had the ultimate outsider vs. the ultimate insider. This dynamic worked against Clinton when Trump kept asking, "You've been there for 30 years, why haven't you fixed everything?" Of course it's a stupid question, but Clinton didn't have a good answer.

I edited this post to remove the comment about Bernie, because he isn't really the point. It's about insider vs. outsider.

November 8, 2016


Hi, I've been lurking here for years, and finally decided to join. I'm very nervous about today and I need a friendly place to post instead of the mixed party swamp I usually post at.

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