The Coming Democratic Crackup?

Republican gains next week look to be substantial, and if my hunch is correct the GOP will exceed expectations and probably sneak up on at least one Senate race currently thought out of reach, like New Mexico or Michigan. And they’ll probably nab a few House seats that Democrats think are safe.

Then the question will turn to recriminations on the left. The Koch brothers will come in for the usual lambasting, though it appears that when the money is tallied up, Democrats and their “independent” affiliates will have outspent Republicans and their allies by a substantial margin. Fox News, alleged voter suppression, and bad karma will all get their innings. Obama will be largely off-limits, naturally. Because Obama. The One.

But not completely. And this is where it gets interesting for Her Hillaryship. There’s clearly pent-up demand on the Democratic Party left (yes, I know, I repeat myself) for the party to move much further left than Obama has taken it. My favorite example right now is Thomas “What’s-The-Matter-With-Kansas?” Frank, who laments at Salon that Obama is just too gosh darn moderate and non-ideological, like the long line of “moderate” Democratic nominees before him.   Obama is in fact like Jimmy Carter, Frank argues, for his lack of serious left-street cred. Seriously, you need to take this in:

The moral of this story is not directed at Democratic politicians; it is meant for us, the liberal rank and file. We still “yearn to believe,” as Perlstein says. There is something about the Carter / Obama personality that appeals to us in a deep, unspoken way, and that has led Democrats to fall for a whole string of passionless centrists: John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. Each time, Democratic voters are enchanted by a kind of intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.

We are such losers.

Needless to say, the “pragmatic, not ideological” stance that all these Dukakasoid left-liberals try to put forward is the disguise for their leftism (cue Jonah Goldberg here), and somehow it even takes in Frank, who seems like a nice enough fellow in some ways. Frank certainly is amusing. Is he a Fox News plant on the left?   I wonder sometimes.

What this means, however, is clear: there’s going to be significant enthusiasm on the left for a vegan-meat populist candidate in 2016 (since for Frank, Hillary is part of the problem), so get your Elizabeth Warren and/or Bernie Sanders lawn signs ready. A Massachusetts-Vermont ticket is just what the country needs!


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