If our curent economic woes continue for, say, two years or if the economy crashes to new depths, a populist backlash is almost inevitable. As I have argued ( here, for example), the conduct of the Democrats since taking power will intensify that backlash, and cement the Democrats’ status as its main target. That conduct includes the selecting for high office of wealthy individuals who did not comply with the tax law; promptly reneging on promises of bipartisanship; and rushing through legislation (before anyone but the lobbyists had a chance to read it) that is laden with pork for Democratic special interests.
Michael Lind senses the danger, and captures it well in this possible epitaph for the Dems: “First they came for the bankers; then they came for the CEOs; then they came for the liberals.” Lind reminds us that the white-collar liberals who dominate the Democratic party are inherently vulnerable to populist resentment, given their “remarkable ability to dress up their own economic interests in the rhetoric of globalization and anti-racism while attacking the motives and assaulting the characters of Americans who are far less wealthy and privileged.” (Obama himself did this in his infamous remark about Americans who cling to guns or religion.)
Throw in a depression or prolonged recession on their watch, and there will be hell for the Democrats to pay.
Lind urges the Democrats to “stop the suicide.” But the Dems can’t be expected to stop being Dems, particularly in the midst of the “we won” euphoria. This, after all, is their moment, and they are the ones they’ve been waiting for. Only a sustained recovery can save liberal Democrats from themselves.
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