Is The Mush In The Middle Our Destiny? Damn, I Hope Not!

This morning, The Hill published an opinion piece by Bill Schneider, author of Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable. Schneider was demonstrating his book's premise: Why our parties can't govern, both generally and specifically. But he also makes the case I'm been advocating for this week: a three party system that would start with the atomization of both parties-- the fascists taking over the GOP outright, which is already happening-- with any mainstream conservatives left being pushed into a corporate-friendly conservative mushy middle. Meanwhile, the progressive would either take over the Democratic Party or leave and form their own, while the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (the Blue Dogs, New Dems, Problem Solvers, No Labels, Third Way... all the corrupt, elitist factions, joining with the mainstream GOP conservatives in that middle mush. That would give us two movement-oriented parties: the progressives on the left and the fascists on the right, with the mush in the middle, for Wall Street and the media to kvell over.

Schneider explained the difference between a coalition, as the mush in the middle would be, and a movement, as the progressives and the fascists would be, although, oddly, he never uses the world "careerist"-- or even implies it-- when explaining coalitions.

"In a coalition," he wrote, "you are expected to agree on one big thing. If you support the party’s candidate-- for whatever reason-- you’re one of us. No further questions. In a movement, you’re expected to agree on everything-- not just which candidate you support, but also positions on government spending and foreign policy and race relations and vaccine mandates and filibuster reform. Disagree on anything and you can be banished from the movement. You’re not one of us. Our parties started becoming more ideologically uniform a long time ago, back in the 1960s. Democrats embraced civil rights and made it clear that racists-- who had been tolerated in the Democratic Party since the Civil War-- were no longer welcome. The anti-Vietnam war movement said the same thing about war hawks. At the same time, Barry Goldwater defined the Republican Party as an exclusively conservative party and embraced the radical right (“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”). Since the 1960s, liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have gone the way of the dodo bird. They have become nearly extinct in their native habitats (liberal Republicans in the Northeast, conservative Democrats in the South)."

I hate to quibble, but, as much as I may wish it to be true, conservative Democrats are anything but extinct. Not only are we burdened with a conservative Democrat in the White House, but how does one explain Joe Manchin, Josh Gottheimer, Kurt Schrader, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Scott Peters, Abigail Spanberger, Jared Golden, Robert Garcia, Tom Carper, Maggie Hassan, Hillary Clinton, Stephanie Murphy, Jim Cooper, Tom O'Halleran, Mark Warner, Dianne Feinstein...? (I didn't include Sinema because only a psychiatrist can explain that mess-on-two-legs.) All of them would be destined for the conservative, corporate, careerist, corrupt center coalition (The Mush), along with dodo birds like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Adam Kinzinger, Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, John Katko, Mario Diaz-Balart, Chris Smith, John Thune, David Valadao, Rodney Davis, Brian Mast, David McKinley, maybe even Mitch McConnell, Shelley Capito, Nancy Mace and Lindsey Graham...

The trend toward ideological conformity didn’t start with Donald Trump, but he accelerated it. These days, if you want to be a Republican candidate, you don’t just have to embrace Trump: You have to accept “the big steal”-- the view that Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election but was denied victory because the election was rigged. Otherwise, Trump will find a primary candidate to run against you no matter how much it damages the party’s chances of winning.
...[E]xtremism has found a home in the Republican Party. How else to interpret Republicans’ acceptance of what was effectively a coup attempt on Jan. 6, 2021-- an effort to nullify an election and keep Donald Trump in power? What saved democracy was the fact that U.S. military leaders refused to intervene.
It is difficult to think of a coup anywhere that has succeeded without the active or tacit support of the military. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had said before the election, “We have established a very long, 240-year tradition of an apolitical military that does not get involved in domestic politics.” Thank goodness that tradition held in 2021.
Trump seems to have complete control of the Republican Party right now. That could be a problem for Republicans because Trump has little support outside the conservative movement. The best Republican strategy for dealing with Trump appears to be to ignore him. Move on. That’s how Republican Glenn Youngkin won the race for governor of Virginia last year.
...Democrats, however, need Trump-- to mobilize their base, especially if they see Biden as a disappointment. That is very likely why President Biden put aside pleas for bipartisanship in his speech on Jan. 6 and accused “the former president” of spreading “a web of lies” about the 2020 election and putting his own interest above the country’s interest.
Republicans want the 2022 midterms to be a referendum on Biden. That is what midterms have always been. As a result, Democrats are very likely to lose their bare majority in the House of Representatives. The slightest tilt could give Republicans control of the Senate as well.

Biden, wrote Schneider, is viewed as an unacceptably weak president. The only reason he won the primary was because Obama and Clyburn manipulated the system behind the curtain and the only way he won the general was... well Trump. Ironically, the only thing he did completely right was getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan, which has been labeled by a media bending over backwards towards partisan conservatism as another example of his abject weakness. If you're a regular DWT reader, you know our premise here has always been that Biden would be the second worst president in contemporary history, right behind Trump, neither of whom being considered a legitimate president by nearly half the country.

But without Trump, Democrats have nothing to offer. The party is captive of its conservative minority which has scuttled everything-- from raising the minimum wage to lowering the price of drugs and the age of Medicare eligibility, not to mention ending student debt, dealing seriously with Climate Change or even protecting the Democratic base from being systematically disenfranchised. The Democrats haven't even been able to protect women and their health from a sick vision of Bronze Age conservative patriarchy. The Democratic Party is a failed party-- just as the GOP is-- and, at this point, each has nothing but Trump.

We're going to now watch that hideously dysfunctional dynamic play out in the midterms, which began in earnest last night at the Trump rally/super-spreader event in Pinal County, Arizona. Another key factor Schneider didn't mention-- aside from careerism and fascism-- is the prevalence of QAnon inside the GOP now, the guiding light as much as Trump himself.