Will The Democratic Party Re-Figure Out What Being A Vehicle For Working Families Looks Like?
This morning, CNN's poll-believer-in-chief Harry Enten asserted that his reading of a late November Gallup poll proves something that is both warming to to the hearts of Beltway Establishment and ridiculously false. Enten wrote that "The 2020 election was, like almost every election involving an incumbent, mostly about voters’ feelings toward said incumbent." That's true. This isn't: "Not enough attention, however, has been paid to the fact that the challenger was a fairly popular guy. He did not allow Trump to make this election a choice of the lesser of two evils." And this is... half true: "Indeed, Biden is more popular than Trump has been at any point since he started running for president in June 2015."
The Gallup poll he was referencing shows that Biden's favorability rating has risen 6 points to 55% since the election compared with his final preelection reading. At the same time, Señor Trumpanzee's favorability has edged down three points to 42%. "Biden's current rating is the highest it has been since February 2019, two months before he declared his candidacy for president, when it was 56%. Trump's latest favorability falls short of the highest of his presidency, 49% in April, during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic." Enten is missing several things:
Polls have been proven to be wildly innaccurate and his job is redundant
Comparing anyone to Trump is using a bar way too low
Interpreting polling numbers is a fool's errand
2020 was not just a lesser of two evils election... it was the classic lesser of two evils election
In the Gallup analysis of the date, Megan Brenan wrote that "since 2000, the winner's postelection favorability reached the majority level in every election except 2016, when Trump was the most personally unpopular presidential candidate in Gallup polling history. Biden's six-point increase in favorability this year is in line with those for other presidents and presidents-elect." American Political Science 101: Winning presidential candidates' favorability numbers always go up after an election. In fact, in 2016 Trump's went up 8 points-- two better than Biden's 6 points!
I had just finished the last paragraph when I got a call from a woman in New York I had never spoken with before, City Council candidate Marni Halasa. A Bernie primary supporter, she described her general election vote for Biden as "I held my nose because we had to get rid of Trump." Her expectations for Biden are chillingly low. If Enten thinks-- or Biden believes-- that the 2020 race was anything other then a repudiation of Trump, they are sadly mistaken.
To prove his case, Enten adds that "In fact, you don't need to look further than the House of Representative results to see Biden doing better than the average Democrat. Despite holding the incumbency advantage (which Biden was running against), House Democratic candidates won the nationwide vote by about 3 points. Biden won it by 4.5 points." If that proves anything at all-- it doesn't-- it would simply prove that the Democraps in general are unpopular and that hatred for Trump didn't spill over to support for down ballot Democrats (the way it did in 2018 when Trump wasn't the ballot). After willing in 2018, establishment Democrats misinterpreted that as an embrace of their status quo conservatism by the American public. It wasn't.
As Ben Burgis explained in his Jacobin column-- The Last Thing We Need Is To "Go Back To Normal"-- this morning, "After four years of having a xenophobic reality TV host in the White House, the desire to just 'go back to normal' is understandable. But a return to normalcy would be disastrous, shoring up the plutocratic status quo that gave us Trump in the first place... Other presidents have committed worse crimes (though, the COVID-19 disaster is certainly up there). But most of them strained, however unconvincingly, to present themselves as reasonable and compassionate people. Bill Clinton might have declared that the era of big government is over and championed 'welfare reform,' but at least he reassured us that he felt our pain. George W. Bush cluster-bombed and invaded multiple countries and surveilled and detained Muslims in America, but he held White House iftar dinners and talked about the importance of religious tolerance and his admiration for Islam as a religion. Barack Obama expanded and deepened some of Bush’s most disturbing 'war on terror' policies. But he was perpetually calm, manifestly intelligent, and consistently exuded a sense of decency on an interpersonal level. Then there’s Trump.
Like Marni Halasa, Burgis' expectations from the Biden administration are very low. He wrote that so far, Biden’s appointments "include a 'climate czar,' who enthusiastically supported the expansion of US fossil fuel exploitation, an energy secretary 'who not just opposes the Green New Deal, but who sits on the board of one of the country’s worst fossil fuel polluters,' and a director of the Office of Management and Budget who floated the idea of stealing Libya’s oil money to pay for the US war to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. If going back to 'normal' means going back to the way things were before January 20, 2017, Biden’s appointments do represent a return to normal."
At the end of last week, Robert Scheer interviewed Thomas Frank on how the Democratic Party became a vehicle for the aristocracy and "how anti-populism made liberals comfortable with plutocracy."
Frank explained that FDR's party has become a vehicle for a modern day meritocratic aristocracy "because liberalism in its modern-day incarnation not only has moved away from and forgotten about its past as a working-class movement, but [provides] a rationale for plutocracy... you’ve got this ruling elite in this country that is largely defined nowadays by where they went to college and where they went to graduate school, and what they studied and how well they did in school, that is really what defines the ruling elite of this country nowadays. You still have a sort of older elite here and there who inherited their money or who were entrepreneurs or whatever. But by and large, the elite of America today is this kind of white-collar group that’s defined by where they went to school. And this group looks out at the rest of the world, and they say, you know, not only are we richer than you, but we’re better than you. We’re more moral than you, we understand politics better than you, we know the jargon. You know, we understand the issues. And this is highly toxic. That this sort of progressive tradition has now come together with and melded with extreme wealth, and even provides a rationale for a plutocracy... That is what liberalism does. That is one of the services that it provides to its constituents, is that it rationalizes their place in the hierarchy."
Frank continued this fascinating discussion, pointing out that we’re in a very difficult situation right now in this country. Trump has been defeated... Trumpism remains strong. His base is still united, they’re still with him. There’s going to be another Trump in four years. This is just going to keep getting worse unless the Democratic Party finally takes steps... if they want to stop Trumpism, they have to understand that it’s their own movement toward this meritocratic elite that made Trump possible. They have to reverse that somehow. There’s all sorts of obvious ways that they could go about reversing that, but I strongly doubt that they will. You know, we’re in a very dangerous situation."
The first step is to actually listen to those people rather than just decide that they need to be punished. Which is overwhelmingly the attitude among the sort of liberal commentariat. You know, that these people are bad people who there’s something dark and wrong with their souls, and we should not offer them anything; that’s obviously, you know, an enormous blunder. What you have to do is win some of those [working-class] people back.
And what’s funny is watching all these sort of liberals here in Washington, D.C. spin their wheels and say, well, what could a party of the Left offer working-class people? They can’t even imagine. You know, and it’s like, dude, look at history. Parties of the Left are supposed to be about working-class people. It’s incredibly easy to come up with things that a party of the Left would do for working-class people. For one thing, universal health care. For another thing-- I mean, this one just seems like a no-brainer–make it easy for them to form labor unions again. Once you do that, it’ll start to, you know, people start to think differently, they start to bargain. It changes people’s attitudes about their whole life. I mean, I think of making school good and accessible and cheap again. You know, all of those things. You go right down the list of, you know, Martin Luther King and the Freedom Budget; you know, make sure [that] the housing is affordable. These are all no-brainers, in my opinion, that the Democratic Party could do.
Now, it’s going to be difficult; it’s going to be hard, but at least they can make a stand. A guy like Joe Biden is-- at least he’s, he’s not Hillary Clinton, calling people “deplorables.” This is a guy that likes to speak to blue-collar audiences. You know, he likes to hang around in union halls and stuff like that. It’s not that hard for him to make the case to these people. But he’s got to understand the strategy of it, and the long-term direction that his party has been going in, if he wants to turn it around.
I couldn't find the embeddable video below when I wrote this post yesterday. Bernie, as well as other congressional progressives, like AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Marie Newman, demonstrate the difference between a progressive and a liberal by demanding direct payments to Americans during the pandemic hard times. Conservatives-- whether from the Republican Party or the Democratic Party-- are cooking up this phony "compromise" bill that includes nearly nothing for the working class. This is what the 2022 primaries will be fought over and-- despite the most clueless and idiotic DCCC chair yet-- perhaps the general election midterms as well.