Democrats are unlikely to oppose their own Donald Trump

A couple of weeks ago, a dinner with some family friends was interrupted by a knock at the door. A Democrat was collecting ballot-qualification signatures to run for the state assembly. In my thirteen years in this once-heavily Republican neighborhood, this was the first time I had seen a Democratic candidate. It was a promising development, with a twist.

Our guests were serious Democrats, happy for a chance to ask a few questions of the candidate. With their first question they asked whether she would protect reproductive rights. Their second question – would this candidate challenge the notoriously corrupt House Speaker, Mike Madigan? Her hedged, evasive answer was sobering.

The candidate’s “pragmatic” response shed light on an important reality. Democrats are no more ready than Republicans to clean their own house. Faced with the challenge of their own Donald Trump, I have little hope that they would perform better than the GOP.

That challenge seems a certainty, perhaps in the near-term. Today’s post at Forbes explores that question, with considerable skepticism.

73 Comments

  1. So, just reading on CNN about how the puppet tyrant told one of the widows of the four soldiers “he knew what he signed up for”.

    Tell me Chris, exactly what democrat candidate, in any universe, would say that to a widow of a soldier? Actually, what other human being? This monster needs to meet a bullet, the sooner the better.

  2. EJ

    I’ve been thinking this point over for a few days, and here is my considered response.

    Trump’s presidency can be used as a byword for many things: for someone who does nothing, for someone who misuses Twitter, for someone who intentionally aggravates every foreign leader except the very worst ones, and so on. In his excellent comparison to the Clintons below, Ladd uses him as a byword for petty corruption on a large scale, and his argument is pretty convincing.

    However, I think these are not the right thing to compare Trump to. There have been venal presidents before, and presidents who were bad at communication, and even presidents who didn’t implement their manifesto. What makes Trump new is the extent to which he has, in the eyes of many, invalidated the authority of the presidency.

    To a large number of Americans, the simple fact of Trump’s occupancy of the White House is a daily outrage. Even if he does nothing (which is often) he is still Donald Trump, and that alone is unendurable. There is no negotiating with him because there’s nothing that can be offered or conceded, just the constant need to resist him at every turn.

    This outrage creates a siege mentality which means that it’s impossible for his supporters to have a conversation about any legitimate concerns they may have. A Trump supporter who feels that Trump has failed on infrastructure or on “draining the swamp” has no room to discuss this without the others turning on him as a traitor to the cause, or worse, a cuck. Mainstream Republicans have either defected (as Ladd did) or made a deal with the devil. There’s no middle ground and no respect for institutions. The office of president is not sacred while an asshole like Trump holds it.

    As the Americans say, “I’ve heard this song before.” The Democrat version of Donald Trump was Barack Obama. For eight years, his mere existence in the White House enraged everyone who saw him as a “food stamp president” or “affirmative action president” whose actions had to be stopped at any cost, constantly. Meanwhile, his conduct over Guantanamo Bay and bank bailouts alienated many of his supporters, who nonetheless felt they had no option but to continue supporting him against the tea partiers and birthers.

    It may seem strange to equate Obama to Trump: Obama is a brilliant academic and a gifted diplomat, while Trump is a belligerent thin-skinned bully with a large inheritance. To me, this makes Obama the obvious better man. However, I say this as an Obama supporter. To a Trump supporter, these same traits would read in reverse: Obama is a spineless effete elitist while Trump is red-blooded, manly and aggressive. We agree on the two men’s personalities, we just disagree on whether these are the correct personalities for the job or not.

    In my view, the Democrats have already had their Trump. The Republicans are now having theirs. The question is, will there ever be a non-Trump president again, and how do we get there from here?

    1. except the weight of ignorance among supporters remains very heavily on one side. one must be ignorant to sincerely claim obama was not competent to assume the presidency. i don’t think mere partisanship is enough to justify your claim; nor do i think that is the intent in projecting a “democratic trump”.

      1. EJ

        Sadly, in the last two years we’ve learned that for a lot of people there are two tests that determine whether you’re competent to be President:
        1) Are you White?
        2) Are you male?

        To them, Obama fails this test and is therefore incompetent to be President. I would disagree with the validity of these tests, but then I disagree with these people in lots of other ways too.

        One of the recurring threads we saw in the runup to the election was people complaining about having a female President after having a Black one. “Why do we need another demographically significant President?” some asked. “Can’t we go back to having a normal one again?” It was easy to overlook at the time, and most of us just wrote it off as the witterings of a few fringe extremists… and yet, the fringe extremists won the election and here we are.

        To these people, Obama’s brilliance and erudition made him less competent to be President, not more. He was not only not White, but he was an effete urban intellectual who loved Europeans, talked respectfully to minority groups and was careful to be polite to Muslims. These things didn’t just make them hate him, they made him unsuitable to be President.

        Again: these people are not a fringe group. They won the election. They will almost certainly be emboldened to vote again in the next election. If Trump doesn’t stand, then they’ll find another leader to vote for.

        This is why, with respect, I will disagree with your position. I genuinely wish that America was a place in which everyone would regard Obama as extremely competent to be President; but it seems not to be, and in a democracy the mob speaks loudest.

      2. Or, the “ignorance” could be simply be a complete and total crock carefully cultivated, totally disregarding fact….In issues which look at the bigger picture, it is a bit more difficult to distort truth. But, the GOP still does. They’re doing so to justify tax reform that fundamentally benefits the top 1% in complete disregard for how this will widen the income/wealth divide.

        Take a good long look at this report and see if you think the basis upon which the GOP is selling its tax cuts and tax reform has credence. I don’t. Would meaningful, balanced tax reform be a help? Certainly, but that is not what is being proposed nor are the justifications accurate. “Figures never lie, but liars often figure….”

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/10/18/trumps-still-wrong-claim-that-the-u-s-is-the-worlds-high-taxed-developed-nation/?

    2. EJ, it is rare that I disagree with your posts, but I find the comparison of Obama as a counter to Trump a bit much. If you focus purely on policy (or in Trump world, executive orders), Trump has been fixated on repealing Obama’s legacy, more so than offering his own….except for Le Wall. I accept the polar opposite positions on policy as a matter of intelligence and good judgement – In these areas, these two men are, indeed, opposites.

      Personal qualities are what we should focus on in comparing polar opposites of conservative and liberal represenation. The Trump era will be remembered for its crassness, sloppiness, autocratic delivery, ineptness, and control; whereas, the Obama era will be viewed for its dignity,, patient deliberation and genuine empathy and concern for the office he occupied and those he served. Which is not to say at all that Obama did not make mistakes, but I do not think they were made to hurt people or the country or office he held.

      I think your comparison model is a stretch even as I understand what you were trying to achieve.

  3. the late joe bageant’s “deer hunting with jesus” goes a long way to explaining trump supporters. even more than love, we need to be seen. 45 loved the uneducated, hrc deplored them; and it’s hard, REALLY hard, as an educated person, to find common cause with the ignorant, especially those wilfully so. they are their own worst enemy and they’re ready to take it all down with them, just to finally get some f*cking attention.
    also: i’m becoming more worried about the sandcastle-kicker-in-chief, every day. he is the uber narcissist. he wants a godwin score of 1, and more: it is insufficient even that the comparison be instantaneous. he wants to be the comparandum. he wants to push that button. he needs to be removed, impeached or assasinated, before HE takes it all down, slim pickens yee-hawing his way into the nuclear alt-night.

    1. Trump doesn’t love the uneducated, he uses them. In lawsuit after lawsuit, small businesses fought for payment from this man for work they had done for him. The first group that has been thrown under the bus by T are the poor, working class people. He made vacuous promises to curry their votes then just as quickly has broken them. Who do you think health care cuts hurt most? SNAP cuts? CHIP cuts? The budget he’s proposed? Who is benefiting from T’s actions?

      No, Trump uses people, and he loves the uneducated only because they are so easily manipulated. Then he throws them away without a backward glance.

  4. IMHO, the last election produced the worst possible candidate the Dems could have fielded. Anyone else would be an improvement next time around. Trump was begging her to run again yesterday.

    Trump got elected by stupid people that think there are simple answers to very complex questions, and got helped by others that just could not vote for HRC. Any other candidate could have beaten Trump.

  5. This is speculative fiction, as far as I am concerned. The reality of the situation is that Bill Clinton and Obama were respectable-to-good *centrist* presidents. Sanders is a far cry from Trump. Why are we talking about this? There’s a friggin maniac in the Whitehouse and two chambers of congress full of enablers. This piece strikes me as the type of false equivalency right-wingers are inordinately fond of.

    Anyway, love the blog and the Forbes pieces. The false equivalency thing is a pet peeve of mine.

    1. We need to talk about this because, whatever one thinks of Chris’ examples, he’s absolutely right in that there are larger forces at work than just what’s going on in the Republican Party. Polarization’s a two-way street, and too many Democrats are moving more and more to the left as Republicans have moved so far to the right that one has to be genuinely shocked that the mental strain they’ve pretzeled themselves into hasn’t left them like vegetables drooling into a cup.

      Whatever you think of Sanders and his politics, it’s dangerous that so many buy into what he’s selling, seemingly without question. Medicare for All sounds good on its face, but it’s not going to solve all the problems with our healthcare system. It’s just not, and yet Democrats, in their seeming impotence, have been left just playing catch-up to Sanders, let alone actually pointing out the serious flaws in his thinking.

      Yes, Sanders and Trump are worlds apart on any number of issues, but they’re similar in a lot of ways too and particularly with respect to just how fervently their true believers stick with him come hell or high water. Make no mistake, that’s not a phenomenon brought about solely by their efforts. The utter failure and weakness of our political parties gave them the opening they needed, and that’s not good for the health of the Republic.

      It’s a small miracle that Trump’s as utterly incompetent as he is, but that truth foreshadows a potentially disastrous future if we’re not careful. Just imagine someone who could tap into the same forces both he and Sanders have, and actually be smart about it and have a plan in mind. The sheer scope of what such a person could do is frightening just to think about.

      Dangerous as Trump is, he’s a warning. He’s not the worst that could come to pass, not by a long shot.

      1. Then do explain how Democrats seem to be embracing a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist’s agenda without moving at least modestly to the left. Are you saying they would’ve done that in the 90s if it had been brought up? Serious question.

      2. EJ

        I’d agree that the Democrat party contains more Left-wing people than it did ten years ago. This may be because my generation are further to the Left; it may also be because old-school Lefties are coming out of the woodwork and joining the Democrat party (as did Sanders himself.)

        Part of it may be something else, though.

        During the Apollo Project, the scientists had a picture of the Moon on the wall. Whenever anyone doubted what the end-goal of all their work was, they would look at that picture and the doubt would be removed. Where are we going? To the Moon!

        In the same way, the modern Fascists have a moon-picture: they want White ethnostates in which all media is Fascist propaganda and Left-wing ideas are banned. The religious fundamentalists have a moon-picture, and it’s called the Book of Leviticus. The neo-confederates and the libertarian-anarchists have their moon-pictures. Even the laughable neo-Reactionary movement has one.

        The Left have them too: communists have the same moon-picture as they had for the whole of the 20th century. Socialists have theirs, too. Movements like feminism and minority rights have clear moon-pictures. The SJW movement has been as successful as it has precisely because it has a strong and compelling moon-picture.

        What is the Liberal moon-picture? What is the centrist one? There isn’t one, really. To an extent this is because we won, and have implemented our moon-picture to the best of our ability, and now have nothing we can promise people except an eternity of trying to keep it going. There’s no shining tomorrow that we can build, just a repeat of today.

        People won’t fight for that. People will fight for dreams. Unless the centrist wing of the Democrat party has a moon-picture to inspire motivation and unity, it’s no mystery as to why people will pass it over in favour of the more inspiring, more hardline movements within that party.

      3. A small correction, EJ. Bernie Sanders stated (when pressed) that he would become a Democrat, then when he lost the nomination, he demurred. Which is his right. I fault the Democratic Party which should never have allowed an Independent candidate to run on the Democratic platform. Bernie usually votes with the Democrats, but part of his appeal is his streak of independence.

        As for the Left becoming more “left” – I’m an older person (74) so my understanding of younger people in the Millennials and GenXer groups is admittedly mostly from reading. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understood they were socially liberal but fiscally more conservative….most notably in that they are not materialistic. I recognize there is a radical left group out there but please tell me where I am incorrect.

      4. I appreciate the value of looking back, but I am waaay more worried about right here, right now. With the return of Sen. Thad Cochran to D.C. today and Sen. John McCain’s announcement that he will vote to approve the Budget Resolution, not to mention what’s happening with the Iran Deal, N.Korea, NAFTA, DACA, the ACA….(lord, I know I missed plenty of other “crises”)…it’s important that we focus our attention where the fires are, not were.

        Passing the Budget Resolution is no guarantee that Tax Reform and tax cuts will pass (even with Reconciliation), but take a look at where things are in regards to this one issue. ” Republicans still haven’t written a tax cut plan, they haven’t identified trillions of dollars in tax deductions they plan to eliminate, and they haven’t sorted out how to ensure that the majority of any tax cuts don’t benefit primarily the wealthy.” Still, none of those things would have mattered if they failed to pass a budget resolution, which they appear to have locked down.

        “A budget resolution lays out nonbinding spending priorities, but it also clears the way for the Senate to later approve $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years with just 50 votes. Republicans control just 52 votes in the 100-seat Senate, and they would normally need 60 votes to win passage of such sweeping changes. ”

        Where’s all the “balanced budget” right wingers? I realize that passing these tax cuts and tax reform is the holy grail for Paul Ryan and the GOP, but a $1.5 Tax cut by Reconciliation? You know that any objections to deficit spending even with a 10 year hocus pocus plan will require cuts to entitlement programs…Rand Paul even folded after his dinner and golf game with Trump and said he’ll vote for the Budget Reconciliation….such principle! Wonder what he got for his vote? Oh, well…enough pain for one night.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-one-step-closer-to-approving-tax-cuts-after-vote-to-open-budget-debate/2017/10/17/f3815740-b351-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?

      5. EJ

        Mary:
        One of the things I’ve discovered talking to members of my own generation, especially Americans ones, compared to members of other generations is how different our worldview can be at times.

        Much of this is, I think, down to our circumstances. We’re poorer than our parents, have less economic mobility, and many of us have no feasible way to change this. As such, there’s less comfortable complacency. There’s also a widespread agreement that the accumulation of wealth (whether inherited or in the finance system) is not our friend. As a result, traditionally Left-wing policies of the sort that we would call Social Democracy here in Europe are popular. People cannot reasonably hope for a better future if things continue, and so they do what people without hope have always done: they get angry, get organised and push for change.

        One of the interesting aspects of this, something I’ve encountered before but haven’t found any academic writing on, is what I think of as the Bullet Principle. Americans of my generation seem unwilling to accept their own benefit at another’s cost. For example, if their company needs to fire some people, then those who do not get fired will be as annoyed as those who do. If house prices rise until they become unaffordable for some people, then even those who can afford them will see it as an outrage. In some cases this sympathy stops at international borders, but in other cases it doesn’t: witness the PR difficulties that Apple and Nike have had with the way they treat their overseas labour force.

        Because of this, I think the American Left is in a situation of both great advantage and great peril. It’s an advantage because it may cause a wider shift Leftwards; it’s a peril because if the Democrat party (in particular) is too set in its traditional ways to be able to adapt to Millenial customs, then it may alienate them and cause the sort of fracturing of the Left that has doomed Hungary, amongst other countries.

        As we age, my generation may grow out of this and become more selfish. Certainly, Clemenceau’s famous saw about age has been true for many people in the past. But we live in a strange world, and strange things have happened.

      6. Ryan– re explaining the “socialist” phenomenon. In reality, Sanders and Clinton voted alike 93% of the time when they were in the Senate.

        (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/upshot/the-senate-votes-that-divided-hillary-clinton-and-bernie-sanders.html)

        The “socialist” label seems to me to be a marketing ploy to appeal to the immature and disaffected. Which, as far as maturity/reality goes, does share something in common with Trumpism. I agree with that.

        But the difference is the respect for the institutions and customs of our government. Sanders may be a rabble rouser, but I don’t get the sense that he would endanger the republic. He just wouldn’t. He’s also not an ignoramus. That, to me, is why there’s a false equivalency. There is no comparison with Palin, Bachman, Trump. Sander knows and respects the laws and customs of the country. It’s a world of difference.

        The claim of equivalency is an excuse for right wingers to disavow themselves from a half-century of dog-whistle politics. All Republicans are complicit in these and it has to feel bad. As it should.

  6. I think what’s missing in thinking about a possible Democratic Trump is that Republicans, or at least a controlling segment of them, are essentially nihilistic about government. Democrats aren’t. Both sides may have their pathologies, but they lead in different directions.

      1. Mary, given the american exceptionalism and Pax Americana view that so many of the republican party ascribe to, I am sure they will set their sights on so many other targets, like their “socialist” neighbor to the north, who are sitting on all that oil and fresh water (and yeah, thanks to global warming, the U.S. is in real trouble when it comes to fresh water) that was given to the U.S. by God himself, and it is only due to some celestial clerical error that it sits inside Canadian borders.

      2. “What will be their next target?”

        History makes clear the next step of totalitarianism after ‘the movement’ supplants ‘the parties’ is genocide.

        It starts with purging ‘undesirable’ elements of society, wherein the definition of ‘undesirable’ includes whatever the next weakest link in the social ecology is. Totalitarian societies have shown no endgame or point where that stops, as they’ve always either self-destructed or been stopped by external forces.

        Pay close attention to Bannon and the alt-right and how closely they adhere to calling their actions ‘a movement’ and how much they complain about ‘parties.’ Arendt defines political parties as representatives of interest groups and institutions — their function is to construct legislation and organize social coherence. Movements represent nothing other than a constant march toward an ineffable and always distant ‘future’ defined almost explicitly by the destruction of the present — their function is to purge,

        endlessly.

      3. Yes, you are likely correct. I have never stopped watching Bannon since he appeared at Trump’s side. Evil incarnate.

        Here’s an interesting article about the “never, never Trump” conservatives…This leftie is still holding out hope that there are people on the right that will hold the line….And, I need to know who they are and what their red line is…

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/10/17/the-nevernevertrump-conservatives-worth-following-on-twitter/?

    1. The Republican Party sold its soul to its nihilistic and racist base for power. Would the Democratic Party sell its soul for power? Some would say they have, to “interest groups” of various kinds. The result, of course, was sausage-making in various degrees. And in an extreme case, we had Huey Long. Given even all that, I’m still having a hard time imagining a Democratic Trump. Clinton doesn’t come close, for reasons a number of commenters have given below.

      1. One of the greatest strengths as well as greatest weaknesses of the Democratic Party is how inclusive it is. Their big tent philosophy may protect them from being taken over as Republicans have been. When you allow multiple points of view to coexist, that may dilute one’s message but it also creates room for disagreement. The Republicans have been in a lock-step death march for a number of years…I don’t feel sorry for them one whit but I do feel sorry for America. They are not doing their jobs. They’ve sold out as a party. The few brave men and women are to be commended from within the GOP but even they can usually be counted upon when things get really serious.

      1. How about Gen. McMaster’s comments supporting Trump’s dual insult/negotiation with NK and his coyness regarding pulling out of the Iran deal? I had hoped for better from him but guess the air is toxic in the White House.

  7. Chris,

    For what it is worth, I have a low opinion on the voting public in general regardless of party affiliation. Over forty years ago it was the first or second time I was old enough to vote (probably the 1976 Ford/Carter election). I was really trying to determine which was the better candidate including debating with those I worked with. The day after the election, the attitude of the winners was “see, we were right”!

    Unfortunately, I believe we are getting the government we deserve. Too many people encourage politics to be like WWE wrestling.

    Kudos to you Chris on voting for a “Clinton” as the least worse choice. I encouraged friends and families to get out an vote by telling them they didn’t want to feel guilty about being responsible for what I feared was going to happen.

    Would the country have been better off if G. H. Bush, Bob Dole or Ross Perot had become president instead of Clinton?

    Chris, out of curiosity what do you think of Al Gore?

    1. The problem, as I see it, is that politics is all about winning at all costs now. I see this even more from the far right. They don’t care how they win as long as they do. Russian collusion? “Meh, who cares? WE WON!!” They then proceed to stick their fingers in their ears and “lalalala, I can’t hear you” when presented with facts that their orange messiah is a lying, cheating, traitorous piece of shit. All they can come up with is MAGA!

  8. Ok, here goes.

    If the Democratic Party has the slightest shred of a hope of avoiding its own Trump, it starts with some minimal capacity for self-assessment. That isn’t easy. It’s a challenge that Republicans failed time after time as the party descended into its Neo-Confederate nightmare. Yet, it is the only force that can arrest this slide.

    How will you know it’s working? When Democrats can finally have an honest conversation about the Clintons.

    Until Trump, the Clinton administration was the sleaziest spectacle in modern political history, perhaps ever. These people sold nights in the Lincoln bedroom. Think about that. Throughout their careers they were always on the make, though they were seldom any good at it, partly because they’d been stuck so long in a southern backwater soaked in poverty. The only time they were able to turn their political corruption into serious cash was when a donor turned them on to a corrupt deal in cattle futures. Their hamfisted real estate shenanigans were corrupt and shady, but they were also consistent failures. They were lousy, small-time crooks.

    Bill had a reputation as a sexual predator stretching back decades and no one cared – especially not Hillary Clinton who needed that man to fuel her own ambitions. No, this is not Kennedy-esque stuff. Kennedy was never accused of pressuring employees into sex. Somehow, the whole country converted his creepy behavior into a charming character quirk. Think about that. Think for a moment about the political impulses that inspire people even today to look back on the career of Bill Clinton and treat him like a victim.

    Consistent with their real interests, the Clinton administration began the weakening of the SEC and federal oversight of securities markets that would accelerate under Bush. They were absolutely enamored with Wall Street, in a way that still seems icky and weird. They were trashy then. They are trashy now.

    Much like the Trumps, they were blessed with an abundance of fantastically corrupt associates. The McDougals stand out, of course, but they weren’t the worst. They were part of the Clinton’s pathetic small-time redneck mafia days in Arkansas. Once in DC, the Clintons graduated quickly up to more profitable shady associates. By the end of his term, Bill Clinton actually pardoned a major donor who made a fortune smuggling for the Iranians. He pardoned a wealthy health care scammer with ties to his redneck brother. Nobody remembers any of this.

    By the end, the Clintons were surrounded with appreciative billionaires and they profited accordingly. From nearly nothing in wealth at the time Clinton took office, they are now worth more than $100mn. Again, think about that. Without ever holding a real job in a real company, they accumulated a nine-figure fortune in just over a decade. They supposedly earned this money from book deals and speaking fees. We’re supposed to believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton earned a Harry Potter-class fortune in literature on their own merits.

    In 2013, the two of them earned more than $20m just from speaking fees. Now, let’s talk for a moment about “speaking fees.” If you think that companies are paying people like the Clintons deep six-figures just to hear their golden insights, then I’m sorry. I just can’t help you. Those speaking fees are bribes. Period. That’s all they are. In the years between the Clinton campaigns, the Clintons could command fees 8-10 times higher than other similar “speakers” because people know what they were buying.

    Big companies want access to influential people. In some cases, they expect little more than a chance to network. With the Clintons, everybody knows the game. They know what Mark Rich got for his money. They know that you never know what you might need. You could write a 40K check and hear an interesting speech from Colin Powell, and get little else for it. Or you could write a 400K check (plus a long list of other quiet costs) and get access to someone who might help you with something valuable when you need it. The Clintons are coin operated. Again, if you refuse to recognize that reality despite all the evidence to the contrary, I can’t help you.

    I voted for Hillary Clinton even though I despise her for the same reason I would have voted for a re-animated Richard Nixon – the alternative risked the collapse of the republic. My vote was a vote for an operator who knows how things work. Had she won, we would be treated to a day by day drip of sleazy Clinton scandals. My God, I shudder to think what we’d be learning right now about the operations of the “Clinton Foundation” right now if she were president and someone cared. However, we would also have a Nixonian don in charge who might have held this creaking vessel together just long enough for us to get our act together. Keep presenting people with this quality of choice and expect similar outcomes.

    The Clintons are reptiles. There are times when you have little choice but to place such people in authority, but there’s no reason you have to pretend they are anything other than what they are. If your response to this claim is to talk about Republican hypocrisy in the Lewinsky scandal, then you’re basically demonstrating my point.

    Here’s the gist of this rant: If you can kid yourself into thinking that the Clintons are merely good-hearted, persecuted public servants, then when the time comes you’ll be able to convince yourself that the Democratic Trump is a national hero. The same tribal logic is at work in both scenarios. I stand by the comparison without reservation.

    1. And actually, this additional point probably merits mention – not all leadership figures are revolting on a personal level. Both GW Bush and Barack Obama are, by all reasonable accounts, truly decent human beings. Going back farther, the same can be said for George HW Bush and many other prominent contemporary figures like Bernie Sanders or Mitt Romney. There is no rule that we must necessarily promote vile people in order to get capable leadership. Don’t imagine that personal flaws on a massive scale are something we must inevitably reward.

      1. I agree with Ryan. Competency is the first order of business. Quality the second. Then character. In a stack up among candidates, those are what I look for. Once I’ve sorted the first out, I look at the second, and then the next.

        45 has literally none of those things, in a profoundly obvious way. He so clearly doesn’t that I do, in fact, have a very difficult time ’empathizing’ with his voters in a way I’ve never had before. I understand voters who voted for Mitt Romney, I nearly voted for McCain myself (until Palin came along — see Competancy), and to a degree I could understand the “He seems like the sorta guy I could have a beer with” described of W. Bush even though it frustrated me on the Competency level. But I struggle to grasp how anyone could have voted for such an abject collection of misery bundled into one meaty frame like 45.

        Because of that, I don’t know how a ‘Trump of the Left’ would look and I can’t tell whether I’d end up falling for it somehow, but it’s very hard to imagine. The comparison between he and Bill Clinton fail for me on the level of competency, sure, but even on sheer charisma. Ol’ Bill was a charmer, clearly, even if that was disgusting, but you can even see in photographs when people stand near the Don they don’t even want to be in his presence.

        Furthermore I agree that Hillary’s presidency would have been a slow drip of ‘scandals’, but that is now assured for any Democrat in office ever, and 90% of these scandals are trumped up or fake. You even mention the whole speaking contract at Goldman Sachs drift, as if important qualified individuals with insight into the inner workings of the federal government shouldn’t be considered valuable speakers at multi-billion dollar companies; or the Clinton Foundation, whose money has been mostly tracked and registered and gets high ratings from a wide variety of third party charity trackers.

        Bill’s sexual assaults should have been prosecuted, as should have 45’s; Hillary’s ‘enabling’ of them is far more difficult to determine the nature and responsibility of, due in no small part to the terrible quality of public discourse on the subject as a whole. Part of what I outlined below is that that sort of behavior, common and eye-rolled at but mostly ignored and untreated as soon as 20 years ago, is no longer getting easy passes. Though people say that the fact that 45’s ‘grab her by the pussy’ comment didn’t end his political aspirations shows that there is no culpability or risk to men for sexual assault, what I think we may be seeing is that the culture of sexual assault as a whole is starting to get more directly punished BECAUSE it didn’t stop 45 in his tracks. Women saw him ‘get away with it’ and got fed up. Now they’re on the streets, speaking to journalists, and holding people accountable. And good thing too. I hope it continues.

        The rest of the Clinton Scandal Media Franchise stuff is varying levels of bullshit, in more cases than not exemplifying behaviors and relationships at ‘the top’ that no single member of Congress could possibly claim to be free from on either side of the aisle. Half the shit we hold Hillary accountable for would clear out Congress like a United States Lavo Jato.

        I’m not necessarily even against that premise, but if we’re to hold to it, the danger is that it would create a vacuum for ‘new faces’ to appear, which is what Americans are always saying they want, but experience has taught me that these ‘new faces’ are largely old political failures who had terrible platforms only now considered palatable for the sole purpose that they’re ‘anti-establishment’. This group of con-artists and grifters have character ailments much deeper and more disturbing than any Clinton, and they don’t even have the quality of ideas or experience necessary to execute them. Fuck that.

        So until a new political generation of ethical technocrats are nurtured, ‘the same as always’ is a better alternative, just like you said. The Clintons of the world are much more preferable to 90% of the dogs biting at their muzzles because they smell the red meat the Clinton’s left trailing.

        As to that ‘new generation’, I’m working on it. Please help by consigning the Clintons to the past and looking forward instead.

      2. Aaron – concur. The Clintons were competent bureaucrats who at least tried to serve their country while serving themselves. Make of that statement what you will. Trump is far, far worse. He has committed all of the acts ascribed to the Clintons and more. His arrogant pattern of personal abuse of others in his business and personal life is simply without comparison. Trump takes pleasure in hurting people, in destroying things without concern or thought of the consequences. I was disappointed when Clinton lost not only because I knew Trump would be so bad for our country, but because I believed (and still do), that Clinton – in spite of her flaws – cares deeply about our nation and its people. I would not shed one tear if anything bad happened to DJT. I have equal disdain for Republicans who “use” religion for political gain, make sanctimonious, hypocritical stands to the religious right while defiling the Christian “values” they purport to stand for. In their support of Trump, the religious right has lost all moral standing to me. They deserve one another.

      3. >] “45 has literally none of those things, in a profoundly obvious way. He so clearly doesn’t that I do, in fact, have a very difficult time ’empathizing’ with his voters in a way I’ve never had before. I understand voters who voted for Mitt Romney, I nearly voted for McCain myself (until Palin came along — see Competancy), and to a degree I could understand the “He seems like the sorta guy I could have a beer with” described of W. Bush even though it frustrated me on the Competency level. But I struggle to grasp how anyone could have voted for such an abject collection of misery bundled into one meaty frame like 45.

        Regrettably, the cultural forces that are driving so many Trump voters make it virtually impossible for others to emphasize with them. It’s a clash of fundamental beliefs that leave effectively no room for reconciliation. Compounding this problem further is that a majority of 45’s voters aren’t overt racists, and yet the decline of white supremacy and the economic conditions that it gave birth to have left millions with their prospects dimmed, their wages languishing, and their futures on hold.

        How do you reach out to people that, by all rights, didn’t do anything wrong and yet just want their old life back? It’s a terribly frustrating situation that there’s no good answer for. All we can do is create a new economic compact for everyone, one with opportunity and security for all, and it’s a world that’s going to look very different from what anyone’s ever experienced before.

        Put simply, this is one helluva headache that’s going to take a long time to sort out.

      4. Ryan, this piece from The Republic aptly fits your concluding statement, i.e., “…this is one helluva headache that’s going to take a long time to sort out.

        The really dangerous element in what is happening now is the arrogant slap-down of direct Democracy however fledgling it presently exists. The air of impunity from consequence is striking in its arrogant disregard of the people’s will as a reading of the article establishes. I can only hope that there will be a backlash in 2018 that is broad enough to restore more balance to the democratic process while agreeing that it is going to take a long time to sort out. For all who profess such love of the Constitution, the framers never intended for one party to dominate all branches of government, nor for the people to be so completely disenfranchised. Of course, until the people figure this out and then get to the polls and force change, things are guaranteed to get worse…

        “Democrats should do whatever they can to protect the initiative process. But by definition, ballot initiatives are a tool of the powerless. If you have to try to pass a law yourself, it means your political party has failed. In the end, ballot initiatives are no substitute for Democrats finding a way to win control of state legislatures.”

        Might I suggest that if you govern by Executive Order, both president and majority party have failed. Still, Republicans control the reins of power from top to bottom and they know it. The real question is how long will it take for there to be a backlash from the American people that is sufficiently broad to change this imbalance and how much damage will be done in the interim.

        https://newrepublic.com/article/145006/gop-lawmakers-ignore-will-people-voters-passed-liberal-ballot-initiatives-republicans-throwing-them-out

      5. I’m going with what Aaron said. Well put. As far as Clinton’s womanizing, I always said that was between the two of them and he wasn’t the first sitting president to have an affair nor will he be the last. As long as they are doing their job with some competence, I don ‘t care who they are sleeping with as long as it’s consensual.

    2. Good Lord, man, you despise the Clintons (and not without due cause). Message received, loud and clear.

      That said, it’s helpful to remember that Americans, even as Clinton was leaving office and with a booming economy, didn’t believe he was honest and trustworthy, by a lopsided margin of 58%, iirc. More than that believed he’d be remembered for his own personal scandals more so than anything else. And as for Hillary… well, obviously we all know how much people trusted her and how well that worked out.

      Our problem is that, in spite of all that, he still did his job as president (in ways people cared about most). For voters, what he could do for them outweighed whatever personal faults he had.

      Put another way, you’re flashbacking me to Dole’s infamous post-96 “where’s the outrage?”

      That said, there’s still a lot to unpack here, and I’ll have to get back to the rest later. Essentially, we’re trying to get back to a place where people weighed a president’s competency with moral clarity. That’s a tall order, particularly in a society as polarized as ours, and it’s going to take a helluva lot of work.

      Btw, what are your thoughts on a Biden run? For? Against?

    3. I have to say, Chris, your comment above reflects why I’ve never arrived at a character judgment about either one of the Clintons.

      I was never sure where negative information about them was coming from, even if it appeared in a main-stream medium.

      A mild example:

      Consistent with their real interests, the Clinton administration began the weakening of the SEC and federal oversight of securities markets that would accelerate under Bush. [disagreement about steps taken by politician]

      They were absolutely enamored with Wall Street, in a way that still seems icky and weird. They were trashy then. They are trashy now. [simultaneously meaningless and gratuitously vitriolic].

      Nothing to trust or build upon to form a judgment about the Clintons. Plus, I always wondered if Republicans who wrote similarly were consistent about taking their blood pressure meds.

      1. Agreed Bobo, I have said the same during the Clinton years and later. And it’s not just “whataboutism”, the enemies of the Clintons were doubly vile. So should we believe that they killed or had killed dozens? including a friend and made it look like suicide? Should we also believe that Hillary was evil for doing her job as a public defender of a accused rapist?

        We were never allowed to come to a conclusion because, we were always defending them from the opposition’s idiocy.

  9. I think your point is a worthwhile one to consider. Especially since I am a Bernie supporter so, according to lots of people, I’d be most susceptible to supporting a Democratic Trump…

    That said, I’m not entirely convinced yet of your argument.

    What horrified most Democrats (and most sane Republicans, I suspect) about Trump was his sheer incompetence. The sexual assault and harassment charges were just the icing on the cake. As long as a politician is effective at implementing his policy, whatever skeletons are in his closet are typically deemed private and people have always overlooked them.

    Let me put it another way: if Donald Trump never sexually harassed or assaulted anyone, and was faithful to his first wife, but was otherwise just as filled with paranoid delusions, bigotry, ignorance, and incompetence, do you think anyone opposing Trump today would all of a sudden support him? I doubt it.

    To take a better example, Democrats like me were horrified about George W Bush’s re-election (I thought he was an idiot the first time around, but a benign idiot; after lying about Iraqi WMD and the creation of the surveillance state, my opinion was not so benign). The reactions were strikingly similar as the ones to Donald Trump. And yet, in his personal life, Bush was exemplary. Yes, he partied too hard in his youth, but afterwards, he became a devout Christian, never drank or took drugs, was faithful to his first wife, and by all accounts was a great father to his kids. But that didn’t temper my opinion. I was still horrified.

    To Democrats, competence in running govt well matters. It’s actually our core belief, that govt *can* help, not in all situations, of course, but in many (BTW, I think republicans believed that too at one point, but no longer, which is why Reagan is a Republican saint and serves as a counterpoint to the Dem’s FDR).

    So what happens when our politicians aren’t perfect? I grew up in Chicago, and the feeling there is, we’re willing to tolerate a little corruption as long as our politicians get sh*t done. That’s why Richard Daley was mayor for life, while Michael Bilandic, the squeaky clean one, got booted when he couldn’t keep the roads open during a major snowstorm.

    Quite frankly, when Elliot Spitzer was found to have hired prostitutes, I told my friends not only should he not have resigned but that I’d happily buy him a night with an escort if that meant he’d still be around to take down the Wall St. crooks that no one else was going after. While that’s an exaggeration, I’d happily vote him for President, and still believe his use of prostitutes is a matter between him and his wife.

    But the operative word is a “little” corruption. What constitutes “little” has changed. Ronald Reagan was the first divorced President of our country, and lots of people thought that would kill his candidacy because divorce was such a moral failing at that time. Now, we scarcely care (unless the reasons *why* they divorced are salacious enough cf. Jack Ryan in IL’s senatorial race against one Barack Obama). Same goes, I’d argue, for recreational drug use. Bill Clinton was the first guy to admit trying marijuana (but didn’t inhale), and this was an issue for months. Barack Obama admitted to cocaine use and most people barely shrugged.

    OTOH, other issues have become more relevant. Sexual harassment is one of them. Slapping a secretary’s butt a generation ago, or firing them if they got pregnant (sometimes if they deigned to get married), was acceptable behavior not that long ago (witness Mad Men). Roman Polanski was convicted of statutory rape against a 13 year old, fleeing the country to avoid jail time, and many people thought it was no big deal compared to his artistic talent. Nowadays, as Weinstein and Ailes and Cosby are discovering, this stuff doesn’t fly any longer (which is a good thing).

    But this is where your Bill Clinton example falls apart. You’re trying him with current morals, similar to people who criticize Jefferson for owning slaves (not the same degree, but an apt analogy, I’d argue). In his time, consensual sex with an intern was not a big deal, and a private matter for the president and his wife to deal with. Even the perjury charge, people understood as a gotcha that didn’t mean anything (how many people would tell the truth about their sexual affairs?). In most people’s eyes, in the 90s, Clinton’s corruption was “little” and could be tolerated in exchange for his competence in public affairs. Today, sexual harassment and assault charges like the Paula Jones case would probably not be tolerated (I say probably since the 2016 elections disagree with my statement).

    So would I support a Democratic Trump? No. Because his first sin is incompetence in public affairs, the real red line for most Democrats. It’s why lots of Dems didn’t support Bernie despite supporting his positions (they didn’t think he had the political skill to get anything done). And actually, your example of Madigan proves that point: Madigan in private life is fine. An amazing US Attorney who managed to bring down 2 governors couldn’t touch Madigan, who had been in Springfield for far longer. And yet most Democrats around the state hate him (me included) to the extent that many people voted for Rauner, because the Dems couldn’t or wouldn’t counter Madigan’s power.

    So in the end, I think you’re looking at the wrong thing: as odious as Trump’s private life is, it’s not the most odious thing about him, nor the part that’s currently inflicting great damage on the country. It’s his incompetence, and — hopefully — Dems still draw a line at that.

    1. For all the personal faults of Bill Clinton, as noted by several, he was competent. As or more important to me is the fact that Clinton respected the position he had – in fact loved being president – and this respect transferred into how he worked within the process. When Newt Gingrich pulled the rug out from under him, Bill Clinton was criticized roundly for making a deal with him on several key conservative issues. I won’t delve into what I think about welfare reform, but if we’re talking about crass hypocrisy and poor moral character, Gingrich goes to the absolute top of my list. Yet, look at where he is and how small a price he had to pay from his party or this nation for his bullying, coarse, immoral behavior.

      We all live in glass houses – some bigger than others – but, as Americans, we always insisted upon a modicum of class from the scion in the penthouse – until now. What’s really tragic is that I find it very difficult to separate my complete disgust for Trump from those who support him. (present tense) It matters deeply to me that on some basic level, I surround myself with people who share basic core values and respect for the democratic process. I admit that I choose to spend as little time as possible around people (including family) who refuse to acknowledge Trump’s behavior. It’s personal.

      So, there you have it. It is a good thing Democrats gave Republicans Bill and Hillary Clinton so that they would always have a whipping post to rally their base. Of course Barack Obama was/is morally superior except for his sin of being born black. It’s unfortunate for Republicans that race isn’t an impeachable offense. ….. Guess they’ll correct that little problem through Reconciliation too.

    2. This is pretty much my thinking. Madigan is corrupt, but he’s not publicly corrupt or disgraceful, so he’s not a direct threat to norms of behavior. Saying you’d prefer a corrupt but sane and competent individual over somebody proposing disastrous policies is a reasonable tradeoff. Trump is a far worse character than Madigan, and literally threatens both democracy and the country in a way that Madigan doesn’t. The State of Illinois will be fine when Madigan is gone; it’s not yet clear the US will be fine when Trump is although it is looking better than it was 9 months ago.

      We also know the left wing is more resistant to the nuts than the right wing is. The Macedonian fake news factories tried both right-wing and left-wing fake news, and found that the left-wing news didn’t do well because the lefties fact-checked too much. The righties, OTOH, would basically swallow anything (seriously, Pizzagate? How could anybody be that gullible?) In the lefty blogosphere the crazy “Sandernista” types (as opposed to those who liked Sanders but would still support a mainstream Dem) seem pretty rare, and the majority I suspect are Russian trolls/agents because they are STILL trying to defend Trump from various accusations long after any plausible debate is over.

  10. While I don’t really disagree with the broad outlines of Chris’ argument, his continued reference to Bill Clinton’s very real flaws feels like weak sauce. Much as I adore the man, JFK (rest in peace) cheated on his wife plenty and I’ve never heard so much as a peep about his defiling the office of the presidency. A difference in degree, you might retort? Fair enough, but if we’re going down the proverbial rabbit hole of flawed presidents, we’re going to have to go a helluva lot further back than Clinton.

    Conversely, President Obama, despite being the remarkably scandal-free president he was (to which he should be forever given his deserved credit), did not suddenly restore the office to its previously unassailable heights. Why is this so? Because was it was a mistake to ever place the presidency on a pedestal in the first place. Figures like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Ike and others are the exception, not the rule.

    None of that is to say that we should just get used to deplorable behavior, but we should focus our efforts on a more informed and active citizenry that sees it as their role to punish the president when he/she does things they shouldn’t. Apathy is a far graver threat to the health of our Republic than some asshole who gets into the White House.

    Furthermore, if a Democratic Trump (which, if it ever DOES happen… well, I’ll send you a postcard from Montreal, everyone!) occurs, what does that even look like? I honestly have no idea. The conditions that allowed Trump to execute a hostile takeover of the Republican Party wouldn’t work in the Democratic Party. Sanders is the most recent and relevant example we have, and whatever you think of him or his politics, he’s a damn saint compared to Trump (not that that’s that high a bar to clear, but you get the point).

    That said, the reality that Trump happened and the daily horror we’re enduring as a result of it would, I think, have us all examining our presidential nominees much more closely in the future and holding their asses to the fire when and if they’re elected. We’re see it on a regular basis now, more and more regular citizens getting involved in the political process, recognizing the necessity of a government of the people and for the people. Granted, I could be overly optimistic here, but I think the odds of another Trump happening are less than you might think.

    1. Ryan, agree with pretty much everything you have said, except the last paragraph. I believe that the puppet tyrant has opened the door for someone, or some regime, far far worse. And the tyrant may not have even been the vanguard.

      A case could be made for Reagan as the first celebrity president who broke the mold of establishment politicians, though clearly Reagan had some pretty serious bona fides before he became governor, and then president. (I just shake my head to think that today, Reagan would likely run on the democrat ticket, given how far to the right the entire political spectrum has moved).

      But Reagan is really a poor example. What the tyrant has opened the door to is the bannon’s of the world. I always thought rove and cheney were the epitome of evil, but bannon is worse. He will most likely find someone to run for the presidency that make trump look like a teenage football jock running for high school student council.

      That person will far more circumspect in their private life, just as capable of appealing to the lizard brain of the ill-informed and bigoted, far more intelligent, and worst of all, laser-focused on turning the u.s. into something seen in the Handmaid’s Tale, or 1984.

      Can you imagine what happens when bannon and his protege actually start running the country with a highly competent group of like-minded ideologues behind them, as they also take over the republican party as well? Sound like something that the world has seen before?

      1. In hindsight, I should’ve been more specific in that last paragraph. My fault. I didn’t mean it to come across as the prospect of a Democratic Trump being negligible, not by any stretch of the imagination. You’re correct when you say that the door’s been opened. The point I was trying to make is that there’s a good chunk of the population, IMHO, that’s also had its eyes opened to the tactics and path that made it possible for him to be elected at all; not so different from how Americans felt about communism and authoritarianism in the aftermath of WWII.

        At the very least, hopefully we’re going to be able to put up a better fight (and win) the next time this happens. If we can’t even do that much, well…

      2. “just as capable of appealing to the lizard brain of the ill-informed and bigoted, far more intelligent, and worst of all, laser-focused on turning the u.s. into something seen in the Handmaid’s Tale, or 1984.”

        This is a very real fear for many. I have friends with gay children and several gay friends. They are very frightened for their futures. Trump has shown himself to be no friend to the LGBT establishment and his little mockery of Pence as “wanting to hang all of them” was a scary look into a possible future. A year ago I would have said it couldn’t happen but when you have alt-right groups staging rallies and being called by the President “some good folks”, it’s as if we’ve entered into some surreal alternate dimension.

        There is a show on Netflix called Black Mirror and our reality today reminds of an episode of that show.

    2. I think a Democratic Trump would look like a celebrity social justice warrior gone berserk. That was Chris’s warning in previous posts, and I’d agree.

      FWIW, we did see the beginnings of this in this election cycle, with attacks on Hillary’s use of the term “super predator” in describing urban violence in the 90s, or the attempt to label all Bernie supporters as anti-women (even female Bernie supporters, according to Gloria Steinem).

      Mix with our own conspiracy theories about the GMO Agricultural Industrial Complex poisoning us, the Medical Industrial Complex keeping us sick (with our children being especially targeted by the Vaccination Industrial Complex). Finally, throw in a fervent belief in the healing powers of homeopathy, chakras, and moon crystals over evil pharmaceuticals, and there you have it.

    3. Here are two articles that raise interesting points about the increasingly extreme actions Trump is employing to remain politically relevant. What does this signal? Nothing is sacrosanct to this man. And, a third article, that looks at Bannon and what he is planning for Trump’s coronation.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-turns-to-executive-powers-in-bid-to-force-congress-into-action/2017/10/14/54a48dd4-b06f-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?

      http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/calm-before-the-storm/5517/

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/10/14/its-not-my-war-this-is-our-war-bannon-threatens-mcconnell-corker-and-gop-incumbents/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na&utm_term=.dfbfed00f15b

  11. Maybe.

    On the other hand, the Republicans police the Democrats hard core, in effective ways. Anthony Weiner did not get away with it. Clinton did not get away with it. Menendez is still on the line.

    In Silicon Valley, at least some level of reckoning is happening with Travis Kalanick only the front end of a purge of bad behavior. In Hollywood, the man most famous for being the man most famous for controlling everything is getting kicked out of the Academy — an action so without precedence, that the Academy previously did not see fit to do so with Mel Gibson, not after his antisemitic rant and even not after his abuse of his wife a couple-three years after. This is big — official Academy stance is that the Academy only exists solely to deal with the merit of the work, regardless of any personal or individual malfeasance, so dumping one of the strongest ‘career-makers’ in Hollywood shows a distinctive change of values.

    Sometimes the smaller moments of South Park can point out something big. In the 2016 fall season, there was this hilarious episode where “Bill & Bill” (Clinton and Cosby) go on a school tour to lecture elementary students on improper treatment of women. At one point Bill Clinton manages to escape and tell the South Park kids that there’s more underlying the Hillary Clinton campaign than they imagine. He says, specifically, “I pushed my wife too far, and now… now she’s piiiiiiiiisssssseeeeedddd.”

    That episode was written when the South Park guys were operating under the assumption that Hillary was going to win. But most of my network is left of center and lefter, and a lot of what I see right now is a lot of resentment of women specifically regarding ‘Bernie-bros’ and the many excuses they made around Clinton’s character that women perceive as pure sexism. A tweet that gets shared often is, “2016 proved that people will more readily believe the worst rumors about a woman than the worst facts about a man.”

    Men’s treatment of women isn’t the only area that Democrats suffer moral slippage, but it’s worth pointing out that when conservatives criticize their own, it’s about not being conservative enough; whereas liberals think ‘liberal’ is just about as much a bad word as conservatives do. This changes the whole calculus. Both sides have ideological puritanism, but the right seems to give ideological pass to those who win, whereas the left seems to be willing to let their side lose if they don’t make muster.

    In other news, this is precisely why I don’t bother to commit to an ideology or a party. I don’t think individual voters should be able to. I think parties should only be platforms where politicians decide on a common set of policies to pursue, and then all of them decide which party to join after the platform is written. I don’t think voters should believe that they’re ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican.’ Doing such makes them think they have to fit into boxes arbitrarily determined but whatever rich fuckwad joins the party and says whatever.

    I know which party I currently align more with, but I don’t want to join them because some day I might not.

  12. You pose a fair question and an astute observation, to which I can honestly say I try to vote first for country, before party or self. One always hopes for quality choices. If you are attempting to prep us for the 2020 “Celebrity POTUS Free-For -All”, the same commitment would hold. As for the question about celebrities on the left who might seek the presidency, there are thoughtful celebrities who I believe could govern capably, should they choose to run. The bar doesn’t need to be set terribly high to be “better” choices than our current POTUS, but hopefully we’ll have choices that reflect more experience, character, and integrity.

    Media has an important role as well, which frankly, they abdicated for ratings pushes in the 2016 campaign primaries. Solid business experience and/or legislative, gubernatorial and/or national governing experience are invaluable.
    Yet, the public depends upon the free press and other media to assess the personal character, earned reputation, and conflicts of interest of the candidates. This was all attainable, as the media is now exposing but the information was offered way too late in the process to impact public opinion. Moral integrity matters to me as does a president who understands and respects America’s role in the world. For those for whom these are less important than falling in love with their candidate, please stay home.

    A separate but important question is whether the democratic process can be strengthened to filter people like T (and other unqualified celebrities or individuals) from running. It is difficult to absorb the important lessons from the current situation while being constantly buffeted by the daily turmoil and crisis management we are witnessing. It’s all-consuming. Chaos is everywhere as I watch assault after assault on the institutions of America on an unimaginable scale.

    Yet, like many others, I persist in believing in democratic ideals and doing what I can as one individual to offer my help.

  13. Sorry Chris, I’m not buying it. The defining characteristics of Trump are his ignorance, bigotry, vindictiveness and open financial corruption. Sure you can point to run-of-the-mill State level Democrats who are corrupt, but none of them have any shot at the party’s nomination for President. (And of course such low-to-mid level corruption happens in both parties and is pretty much a feature of any power structure where the opportunity for graft and back-scratching exists.)

    Bill Clinton should have been subject to standard legal consequences for his behavior – as a normal defendant after his term as President was over. But instead, Republicans tried to use the issue to destroy an entire Administration. You’ll note that once he was no longer President, all the high profile support for his accusers suddenly dried up. Considering that Dennis Hastert was the R Speaker of the House …

    I’ve spent a while trying to come up with a description of a Left Trump … and it’s laughable. There are some quirky outsider billionaires on the left or only maybe on the left, Oprah, Zuckerberg, Musk … who, *if* elected, *might* prove to be financially corrupt, but as far as I know, none of them subscribe to conspiracy theories about Chemtrails, none of them would try to destroy the Iran nuclear deal, or start a twitter feud with Kim Yong Un (or Puerto Rico…) and most importantly: none of them have a real shot at the Dem nomination.

    Certainly I will be supporting someone with a real political record and who is hopefully also on the left half of the Democratic party, whether that’s Warren, Gillibrand, Hickenlooper, Murphy …

    1. Here’s a big picture view of the differences between the two parties that explains why the Republicans suffered a Trump while the Democrats are much less likely to suffer a Trump. We all agree that the two parties have become more ideologically consistent over the past few decades as conservative Ds became Rs and liberal Rs became Ds. But “ideological” is just one kind of “logical”, and that ideological consistency also reflects a logical consistency.

      Democrats (as a party, not all of their voters) have mostly standardized on a scientific worldview. Global warming is real and human caused; LGBTQ identity is not a choice; Keynesian economics is a more accurate description of reality than the alternatives; downward redistribution is necessary because large-scale capitalism naturally concentrates wealth; there is no such thing as a superior race, etc.

      The Republicans have largely chosen … another path. Once one is willing to reject the scientific worldview on one or two points, it’s just as consistent to reject it all and fully embrace magical thinking. Saying “tax cuts will pay for themselves” will make it so; the science of greenhouse gases can be simply ignored as the product of adversaries; people can be divided into the inherently good (straight cis-gendered people of a certain background) whose crimes can be forgiven, and others who must be suppressed and never forgiven, etc.

      It’s pretty obvious then that one of these groups is much more vulnerable to scam artists, whether the scam is selling them gold coins/certificates, survivalist gear, guns, or a Presidential candidate.

      1. “Democrats (as a party, not all of their voters) have mostly standardized on a scientific worldview.”

        I think what’s most interesting is what you leave out of that description. We still have a lot of positions that are not necessarily scientific. New Age thinking is the left version of evolution denial. The leftist critique of power structures allows good things like breaking down racial privilege, but it also leads to bad things like blindly viewing *all* power structures with contempt, including those based on expertise e.g. science, medicine, etc. It’s not coincidence that the most fervent anti-vaxx believers are liberals who think the medical world is just another corrupt power structure to overthrow.

        While we like to tout that nobel laureates commonly write joint letters in support of climate science, we’re curiously quiet when 110 nobel laureates write a joint letter telling Greanpeace to back off on its attacks on GMO food: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/us/stop-bashing-gmo-foods-more-than-100-nobel-laureates-say.html

        I agree that these aren’t nearly as big pathologies as the Republicans’ wholesale science denialism. But it is something to keep an eye on…

      2. Agreed WX, which is why I had to say “as a party, not all of their voters”.
        The anti-GMO folks tend to be on the left. There are anti-vaxxers on the left and on the right (*probably* more on the left) but what you don’t find is prominent Dem politicians espousing these points of view. (I’d claim pretty darn few obscure ones either!) Whereas, as you acknowledge, it’s hard to find any elected R who isn’t officially in complete denial on climate change, and many of them make other claims contrary to science, up to and including young-Earth creationism. It’s that difference in official stance that I argue demonstrates that the Democratic party will be more successful in rejecting their own Trump-like figure, should one emerge.

        To be fair, it’s sometimes really hard to say “this power structure is corrupt, while this one isn’t” without a broad understanding of the field in question. For example, GMOs are not inherently dangerous, but the use of GMO patents in agribusiness can look rather corrupt. Nuclear power is better than fossil fuels, but the industry has such a history of cost-overruns and accident cover-ups that I understand people not trusting them. Anti-vaxxers, though, they’re just loony. 🙂

      3. Re – WX and Greg’s observations about the Left – left. Many who fall into this group were/are Bernie supporters, and still are bitter about how their candidate was pushed out of contention by the Democratic establishment. Without getting into the merits of this argument, many (not all) among this group of mostly Gen-Xers and Millennials, profess major distrust for the institutions of government – of all kinds – banking, FDA, the party organizations (Dem/Repub), health care and educational opportunity and inequality. This concerns me a great deal because it feeds into the Bannon plan to destroy individual confidence in traditional institutions, which I value and is on perilous footing. Already angry and disconnected, many of these younger Americans have lost their sense of responsibility to vote much less fight against the abuses we are witnessing at the highest levels of government. They are agitated and looking for a fight and to the best of my knowledge, they are fed up with both parties. Their “guy” got screwed and with it, their passion and belief in the “system” working for ordinary Americans. Who will successfully tap into this well of discontent and channel it? Bannon? Democrats? It is reported that independents outnumber (as a group) either registered Dems or Repubs. A scant 4 million votes separated Clinton and Sanders in the primary final vote count, with Clinton garnering almost 17 million to Sanders 13 million. Mid-terms in 2018 are going to be pivotal for democracy. I hope Americans of all stripes will vote even as I worry where their votes may take us as a nation. Only 62% of registered voters cast votes in the 2016 presidential election….let that sink in as we approach 2018 and beyond.

        Chris’ animosity for the Clintons, is exhaustively recounted whereas my animus and disgust for T is more recent. I have watched T for years but never thought it possible that someone of his ilk could ascend to nomination as president. To Chris’ credit, he was able to recognize and support the person he felt would do the least harm to our country, despite his personal loathing. I’ve been a registered Democrat for over 56 years, voting in too many elections to count. I have crossed over to vote for the better candidate when the opposing party fielded a more solid option. Yet, I have never felt that the Democratic Party was as duplicitous or prone to selling out as the Republican Party has demonstrated. I also never felt the Democratic Party was without fault.
        More time will have to pass before my personal judgement and cynicism can be validated or disproven. We live in the present and what I see is horrifying. In the last decade and one-half, the majority of threats to Democracy are coming from the right.

  14. I voted for Bill the first time he ran. Being attracted to his promise to return to fiscal responsibility. I did not the second time because of his breakage of promises on social issues. I became a Republican until the primaries of 2016 and the rise of Trump. So yes I will resist the rise of a Democratic Trump.

  15. Some rings true, but I think the specific case of Bill Clinton is not good example. I do not think Bill Clinton could get a nomination today. Look at John Edwards.

    Nevertheless, as he is alive and often kowtowed to, Bill will continue to be a thorn in the Democratic party’s side.

    As you’ve written, events around 1996-2000 were pivotal for both parties (ref: Rick Perry). But perceptions and baggage change slowly…more slowly than elapsed in one generation, it seems. The Democrats are the party of “family values,” now, modulo the traditional prescriptive roles for women, and yet following the social science research, being pro-early childhood interventions…pro-marriage, even.

    All fine old-timey Republican traditions, re-cast in a secular and minority-including way.

    If there is a pathology for Democrats, I think it lies in the gratuitously anti-market, anti-business, impatient, conspiratorial wing that tend to be malcontents under the regime of tinkering of the technocratic wing of the party. Often, these people are less kind than polite critics of some of Obama’s actions. There’s also a certain amount of suspicious self-dealing among the moderately well to do here: *free* (as opposed to cost-control, or means-tested…) college would surely help some, but some straightforward modeling suggests it is enormously expensive and not going to accelerate our pipeline of improving the lot of the most Americans.

Leave a Reply