The Democratic Party is Out of Ideas and is About to Quadruple Down on Failed Identity Politics

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Yes, of course, Trump winning the GOP nomination marks the end of the party as we know it. After all, some neocons are already publicly and actively throwing their support behind Hillary. While this undoubtably represents a major turning point in U.S. political history, many pundits have yet to appreciate that the exact same thing is happening within the Democratic Party. It’s just not completely obvious yet.

While it might sound strange, a coronation of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary will mark the end of the party as we know it. There’s been a lot written about the “Sanders surge,” with much of it revolving around Hillary Clinton’s extreme personal weakness as a candidate. While this is indisputable, it’s also a convenient way for the status quo to exempt itself from fault and discount genuine grassroots anger. I’m of the view that Sanders’ support is more about people liking him than them disliking Hillary, particularly when it comes to registered Democrats. He’s not merely seen as the “least bad choice.” People really do like him.

– From the February 2016 post:  It’s Not Just the GOP – The Democratic Party is Also Imploding

By now, most of you have heard about the DNC candidate forum hosted by certifiably insane MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid, as well as the racially charged comments which vomited from the mouth of Sally Boynton Brown. We’ll get to that later, but first I want to prove to you that the Democratic Party has learned absolutely zero lessons from the 2016 contest, and will continue to focus on winning elections based on demographics alone, as opposed to confronting the actual issues. It is a carcass of a political party.

Let’s start with an article written by Steve Phillips a few days ago in The Nation, to explain what I mean. First, who is Steve Phillips?

Steve Phillips is a national political leader, civil-rights lawyer, author, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the founder and editor in chief of Democracy in Color, a multimedia platform on race and politics. He is the author of the New York Times best seller, Brown Is the New White: How a Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority (New Press). He is a regular contributor to The Nation.

He’s also one of the people who helped organize the DNC candidate forum mentioned above. What follows are a few excerpts from his article, The Next DNC Chair Must Abandon Color-Blind Politics:

The single greatest force shaping American politics today is the demographic revolution that is transforming the racial composition of the US population. Since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights and Immigration and Nationality Acts, tens of millions of people of color have joined the electorate, rapidly swelling the ranks of people of color from 12 percent of the population in 1965 to 38.4 percent today. The force of that revolution propelled a black man into the White House, and then Donald Trump rode the backlash to that revolution to his apparent narrow Electoral College win. If the Democratic Party is going to effectively rebuild from the ashes of this defeat and reclaim control of the federal government, it must put in place new leadership that has the lived experience, cultural competence, and electoral sophistication to build power and win elections in a highly racially charged environment.

That is the context for the contest for new DNC chair, and it is the framework for the Democracy in Color Chair Candidates Forum that will be held on Monday in Washington, DC, at George Washington University. I am helping to organize the forum, along with the teams at Democracy in Color, mitú, and Inclusv. We will explore three areas that demand immediate attention and complete rethinking if we are going to win in the years ahead.

Notice how this man’s entire focus is on demographics, assuming that people of color have nowhere to turn but to the Democrats. There’s no emphasis on any of the issues that allowed a reality tv star to win the Presidency against one of the most well-funded and media supported candidates in American history. The entirety of the above is obsessed with winning elections based on identity politics as opposed to making lives better for tens of millions of suffering Americans. In today’s environment, this is a recipe for political oblivion.

Let’s take a look at some more of Mr. Phillips’ insights.

Cultural competence within the Democratic Party must extend to all areas of the operation, not just the rhetoric of the chair. It must manifest itself in the composition of the staff and top leadership she or he hires, the expertise and experience of the consultants retained, and the strategic priority and focus of the party’s financial expenditures. How much of the resources and money will go towards chasing the shrinking sector of the electorate made up of the conservative white working class, and how much will go to maximizing the power and potential of the most rapidly growing sectors of the population—the country’s communities of color, who make up 46 percent of all Democratic voters?

Again, he’s explicitly saying, let’s pretty much ignore the conservative white working class and just focus on people within the demographics of those who we think owe us their vote. This is not simply cynical calculating, and gross, it’s a recipe for continued disaster not just for the Democratic Party, but the nation as a whole.

Meanwhile, the following paragraph proves he learned absolutely nothing from Trump’s victory, which should be obvious by now anyway.

The first step the next chair should take to fix this problem is to conduct a transparent and brutally honest assessment of exactly what happened in 2016. There are a lot of misunderstandings, incorrect conclusions, and false and facile assumptions floating around and influencing preliminary plans for progressives in the future. One such myth, for example, is that millions of voters abandoned Democrats and flocked to the Trump campaign, when in fact Clinton got just about the same number of votes that Obama did in 2012 (Trump exceeded Romney’s 2012 numbers by 2 million votes, and third-party candidates received 5 million more votes than they did in 2016). Understanding exactly what happened and why is an essential first step to winning back the White House.

In other words, no fundamental change is needed here. We just failed to make sure certain people within the demographics who owe us their vote get off their asses next time and vote blue. He also once again makes it perfectly clear that the key is to win, as opposed to win on the actual issues.

Now here’s his final paragraph, and it’s the most important one in the entire piece. He accidentally exposes the key flaw in his strategy and why it is doomed to failure.

These are dark days in American politics, but Democrats and progressives must never forget that we are in fact the majority of people in this country. Each of the last three presidential elections have proved that there is a new American majority consisting of the overwhelming majority of people of color and a meaningful minority of whites who vote progressive. The mission of the DNC and its next chair is to start now to put in place the infrastructure to translate that population majority into an electoral majority in enough states to win back the White House and Congress so that we can continue to build a vibrant, just, inclusive multiracial society. That journey begins with making sure the next DNC chair has the skills, experience, strategy and sophistication to lead us on that journey. We’ll ask them these questions and more on Monday. 

He claims “Democrats and progressives must never forget that we are in fact the majority of people in this country.” Note, the key part of this statement is “Democrats and progressives.” If Democrats aren’t progressives, what are they? Neoliberals of course, but he doesn’t want to say that for obvious reasons. Ultimately, this betrays the core flaw in his logic. You can’t say “Democrats and progressives are the majority” if those two groups ideologically clash on everything. At the end of the day, this majority coalition he expects to win elections based on demographics isn’t really a coalition at all.

To summarize, nowhere in this article is there any sort of discussion about economic decay, corporate power, militarism, etc. Why is that? The reason is that the Democrats (ie, neoliberals) don’t want to focus on issues their donors won’t like. Identity politics is perfect for a corporate-Wall Street based Democratic Party. The truly rich and powerful in this country love identity politics and fund it like mad, because identity politics diverts attention away from economic populism, and poses no real threat to them.

Finally, let’s end with the comments of Sally Boynton Brown, a white woman running for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Makes you wonder, is she trying to become DNC chair, or auditioning for a job at MTV?

Perhaps this is her strategy for getting invited to the cool kids identity politics table, but it’s certainly not going to be a winning strategy for Democrats.

Good luck donkeys, you’re going to need it.

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