When Donald Trump becomes President, the Democrat establishment and their loyalists will whine endlessly about how the voters betrayed them, how the voters are stupid or short-sighted, how they can’t believe the voters would do this. They will frame the loss as something that happened TO them, not something for which their disrespect for the electorate was directly responsible. This is what they always do, and upon ushering in a fascist regime they will no doubt resort to the same trite victim blaming as in every loss they suffer.
From Trump to Sanders to #BlackLivesMatters to David Duke’s Senate run, 2016 is the most obviously populist election cycle since 1968. 2016 is in many ways a worse version of 1968: Vietnam is now pretty much the entire Middle East; the police violence at the 1968 Democrat National Convention has simply expanded to the institutional, systemic police brutality nationwide against which #BlackLivesMatter protests. And our political leaders seem to be attempting to repeat the 1968 campaign as closely as possible.
Donald Trump doesn’t have the Wallace problem, he is running Nixon and Wallace’s campaigns as one
In 1968, establishment figure Hubert Humphrey took the Democrat Presidential nomination after beating one left-populist on the campaign trail and having the good fortune that his other left-populist challenger, Bobby Kennedy, was assassinated. Richard Nixon, running a right-populist campaign on the backs of his “silent majority”, was hurt by the third-party right-populist campaign of notorious segregationist and white supremacist George Wallace. But there was enough populist anger throughout the electorate that Nixon still beat Humphrey, despite losing a HUGE number of votes to Wallace.
Donald Trump doesn’t have the Wallace problem: He is running Nixon and Wallace’s campaign as one, while the Democrats, having undermined and beaten the left-populist Bernie Sanders, are still running Humphrey’s establishment strategy, and running it hard, proving an astonishing inability to learn from history.
20,000 leaked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee (about as ironic a use of the word as the Democratic People’s Republic of China) show that they actively worked to influence the primary elections toward the more conservative establishment candidate. And when that candidate became the nominee, she chose for her Vice President a straight, white, male, pro-Wall-Street, conservative establishment figure (who is actually a really nice guy, just for the record). It didn’t help that immediately after DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schulz was ousted (due to pressure from the party’s left wing) for her role in influencing the primary in favor of Clinton she was given a top job on the Clinton campaign. In pursuing this course, the Democrats once again ignored the obvious populism of the electorate and sacrificed the remaining fragments of the party’s left wing in the name of capturing the #NeverTrump conservative establishment of the Republican party.
Hillary Clinton Republicans will be even more rare than normal crossover Republicans
The thing about this run-to-the-right strategy is that it never works for the Democrats. It didn’t work for Obama in his first term as President, and it has repeatedly failed for congressional and Senate Democrats. It simply pulls the whole party further to the right and lets the Republicans get away with going all the way to crazy-town right-wingnutness. The idea that it will somehow work differently for the woman who has been the Republican party’s Public Enemy Number One for two decades is delusional.
Democrats cross over regularly to support Republican candidates. Reagan Democrats, Bush Democrats, that’s a semi-regular phenomenon, but the opposite is a rarity: According to Nate Silver, Republicans seem anywhere between half to a third as likely to cross over their support as Democrats. Those one or two Republicans who the Obama administration found to speak in favor of the Affordable Care Act were a statistically negligible outlier. In the same way that perhaps certain left-wing Democrats could have been won over by the “lesser evil” argument had Clinton chosen Warren or Brown or Cummings, the establishment Republicans will take Trump as their lesser evil after he chose Pence. Hillary Clinton Republicans will be even more rare than normal crossover Republicans, since Republicans have been so thoroughly trained to hate her for a generation.
The Democrats have decided, in the most populist election since 1968, to make 2016 the choice between Trump’s populism and Clinton’s establishment. It will not have been the people who failed the party. It never is. Regardless of whether the Weimar Democrats can see it, it will have been Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Establishment who ushered in the reign of Donald Trump.
Image: tommy japan