Keeping the fires burning

Keeping the fires burning

Here are some data points from yesterday.

Illegitimate president Donald Trump and his Republicans are sinking fast in popularity. When Representative Jason Chaffetz gets hammered in his own townhall in UTAH, you know things are not going well. Add to that the massive protests which have erupted since January 20, 2017, and you have something not seen in American politics since just before the Civil War.

However, as we all well know, Americans have infuriatingly short memories. Democrats were leading in the generic ballot in 2013, only to be swept away in 2014 after the Snowden revelations came out. This time we have a perfect storm of a supremely unpopular president, and of a Republican Party which is doing nothing to check his excesses. But next year is a long way away, and we can't count on the majority of voters maintaining this anger. So, what do we do?

1. Keep protesting. If the past three weeks have shown anything, it's that the art of political protest is alive an well in America. The groundswell of opposition which has arisen in the wake of Trump's installation has been nothing short of breathtaking. This opposition will have to not only be kept up, but transformed into concrete electoral action.

2. Focus on the ballot. We have to turn the massive energy of the protesters into usable fuel for voting. Voting and winning elections are the only viable ways to regain power. I'm sorry to inform the Berniecrats and Steiniacs, but the only political revolutions most of us are interested in are peaceful ones. We already had a violent one from 1861-1865, and the Republic's fate was a close-run thing. The revolution began with Barack Obama's election. As his heirs, it's our job to continue and expand on that revolution, to make the Union more perfect.

3. Reach those who are reachable. As I wrote earlier this week, we can't waste our time with those who are unreachable. The Deplorables, of both the Right and Left, are that way for a reason. They want to burn everything down and emerge into a post-Götterdämmerung New World. They're not our target audience. We have to reach those who may feel disaffected from dominant political discourse, but don't want to wipe away everything to a clean slate. We have to reach the vast majority who are not nihilists, just discouraged by the vitriol at which the Right and the fringe Left excel, poisoning the body politic. We have to show those who sit out of the political process that we offer the way of compromise and comity, of an improved commonwealth, which will only improve by taking in their ideas and concerns.

4. A fifty-state strategy. It's no secret that the most successful stretch of Democratic electoral politics was from 2005-2009, when the party had a strategy in which strong candidates were put forth in all congressional districts. Did they all win? Of course not. But we hadn't seen such Democratic majorities in Congress and in states since the halcyon days before 1994. There are very few things on which I will disagree with Pres. Obama. But the atrophying of the local Democratic organizations is something which we have to rectify, and fast. Relying solely on Electoral College politics has worked to our detriment. If we don't at least begin to offer an alternative in places like Mississippi, we'll always have to fight the same battles over and over again. And, of course, a Democrat in Kansas is not going to be the same beast as a Democrat in California. And that's fine. We are the big tent party. We have held on to the great American tradition of political parties being broad coalitions. The GOP has become an exclusivist right wing party like the National Front in France. It has become foreign to our traditions.

We have to ride the energy whirling about and direct it to a purpose. If we can manage that trick, we may be able to prevent Trump and his party from doing too much damage, damage that we, again, will have to clean up.



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