For a distillation of the Democrat Party’s self-conception today, one could do worse than consult Nancy Pelosi’s recent pronouncement: “We don’t have a party orthodoxy — they [the Republicans] are ideological.”
For some time now, this view of the political divide — Democrats are consummate pragmatists, Republicans are rigid slaves to dogma — has predominated in elite liberal circles. Hillary Clinton, after all, centered her campaign on competence and experience far more than any actual conception of politics.
And despite the resulting disaster, this desire to have a politics without politics — this strategy to build a coalition bereft of any clear values or principles — has continued to animate liberals’ opposition to Trump. Democrats really believe, it seems, that they can subdue the reactionary right without articulating any alternative political vision beyond prudent governance. ... When attacking the Right, the Democrats are non-ideological and pragmatic. As soon as a challenge from the Left is sighted, however, the party suddenly stops being coy, and declares itself forthrightly in favor of capitalism. The result is an ever-rightward-moving political landscape that ends up abetting the very forces and figures that Democrats oppose — including Trump. ... Frequently, Democrats have tried to fell Trump simply by catching him in some act of hypocrisy. This reached a fever pitch immediately after Trump announced his initial travel ban, as liberals of all sorts rushed to accuse the president of excluding countries where he had business ties. Wisconsin representative Mark Pocan even raised the specter of impeachment over the supposed conflict of interest. Trump’s flacks wasted no time exploiting the awkward position Democrats had placed themselves in, snarking, “If people in the media would like to recommend additional countries to be added, you can send us your suggestions.”
And once again, Democrats had turned an opportunity to assail a noxious, unpopular political figure into a chimeric chase for a “gotcha” moment. Rather than pillory the measure as racist and xenophobic, they pursued an “apolitical” line of attack that looked no less partisan, while evading the real political issues raised by the ban. ... The liberal attempt to undercut Trump using some mythical higher standard, something “above politics,” risks undermining the very resistance that’s developed in opposition to his various initiatives.
Most centrally, this kind of strategy simply won’t work. Even as liberals like Lieu express horror at Trump’s outlandish behavior, it is plain that, for many of his supporters, Trump’s refusal to behave like a traditional politician is precisely what they find appealing. The endless articles condemning Trump for his “unpresidential” behavior were no salve for those suffering plant closures and stagnant wages, for whom Trump at least represented the possibility of a break from politics as usual.
Over the longer term, the fruits of the Democrats’ strategy are even more troubling. In framing their opposition to Trump as non-political, Democrats are perpetuating the crisis in American liberalism.
... Without any real challenge from the left, Obama never strayed far from the path laid out by the banks and tech companies that funded his campaigns. While his personal gifts allowed him to win very high approval ratings for a two-term president, his policies did little to alleviate the growing misery in many parts of the country. Obama’s inability to rewrite the political and economic rules of the game ensured that any candidate who lacked his talents would be unable to stitch together the same coalition.
This presupposes that the magical solution to the world's problem is a Leftist one.
Bernie had some good ideas. He also had some very bad ideas, like his anti-free trade stance. Bernie and Trump both scapegoated free trade as being responsible for massive manufacturing job losses. Under Bernie/Trump, USA has no far-reaching free trade agreements with Pacific countries - therefore China will move in, make free trade agreements with Vietnam/Cambodia/Korea instead, undercut the USA on supply line prices, and be able to make their goods cheaper. US manufacturers won't be able to compete with Chinese companies on cost, which means they'll have to slash jobs. US manufacturing still gets f***ed, and China reaps the rewards. Anti-free trade/globalization is idiotic and Bernie was an idiot for supporting it.
Bernie had his problems. The far left has its problems. The Democratic party isn't as centrist as it was eight years ago, or even one year ago. But it's gradually turning into Bernie's party.
The far left thinks the problem is policy. It's not. It's messaging. If Elizabeth Warren had run in 2016 and trumpeted Bernie's policies she would have put everyone to sleep and no one would have cared. Bernie spoke to the soul in a way Elizabeth Warren can't, and he electrified people. If Democrats run another Barack Obama in 2020 and not another Hillary you really think they don't have a chance of beating Trump?