By Mike Krieger
Mar 3, 2016
Whichever side emerges victorious, both Republicans and Democrats should face up to a much bigger truth: Neither party as currently constituted has a real future. Fewer and fewer Americans identify as either Republican or Democratic according to Gallup, and both parties are at recent or all-time lows when it comes to approval ratings. Just 39 percent give Democrats a favorable rating and just 33 percent do the same for Republicans. Not coincidentally, each party has also recently had a clear shot at implementing its vision of the good society. If you want to drive down your adversary’s approval rating, just give him the reins of power for a few years.
– From the post: Thoughts on Election Day: Relax—Both Parties Are Going Extinct
Political pundits throughout the land are tripping over each other to compose the latest bland, uninsightful screed proclaiming the death of the Republican Party. This makes sense, because the primary purpose of a political pundit is to state the obvious years after it’s already become established fact to everyone actually paying attention.
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.
The Sanders appeal is twofold. He is seen as unusually honest and consistent for someone who’s held elected office for much of his life, plus he advocates a refreshingly anti-establishment view on core issues that matter to an increasing number of Americans. These include militarism, Wall Street bailouts, a two-tiered justice system, the prohibitive cost of college education, healthcare insecurity and a “rigged economy.” While Hillary is being forced to pay lip service to these issues, everybody knows she doesn’t mean a word of it. She means it less than Obama meant it in 2008, and Obama really didn’t mean it.
Hillary is the embodiment of a sick and detested status quo. She stands for nothing, is nothing, and a vote for her all but guarantees both murder abroad and oligarchy at home. I think a large number of Bernie Sanders supporters understand this and won’t be going off silently into that quiet voting booth to commit ethical self-sacrifice despite the terrifying prospects of a Trump presidency. I think they’ll stay home, but they won’t sit there passively. They’ll be seething inside, and many will renounce the Democratic party forever. Many rank and file Republicans already came to such a conclusion years ago, which is precisely why the nomination was wide open for a man like Trump to capture. Democrats will do the same, and before you know it, political pundits will be tripping over each other to write about the death of the Democratic Party.
It’s not just the grassroots either. This civil war has now gone all the way to the top, as evidenced by this weekend’s very public endorsement of Bernie Sanders by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Before I get into the significance of this move, let’s recap what happened.
A rising star within the Democratic ranks, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, cut herself off from the party’s establishment by resigning from her post as vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and endorsing Bernie Sanders for president.
Her position with the DNC required her to stay neutral in the primaries, but she said that “the stakes are too high.” She announced her decision on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and made a video where she explained her reasoning.
Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, said she knows the cost of war firsthand. “I know how important it is that our commander-in-chief has the sound judgment required to know when to use America’s military power—and when not to use that power.”
In her endorsement for Sanders, she said America needs a president “who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change,” presumably referring to the war in Iraq and strategy in Libya, led by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, both of which she has criticized in the past. Although generally hawkish in her foreign policy views, she is opting for the Vermont senator as a candidate who “will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.”
Now watch the video:
The importance of this move cannot be understated. In no uncertain terms, this gesture publicly exposes the weakness of the “Clinton brand.” She clearly isn’t afraid of Hillary or of any repercussions from the Democratic Party elite, a fact that is underscored by the fact she came out with her endorsement after he got pummeled in South Carolina.
But let’s take a step back and think about this in the even bigger picture. You don’t get to Congress by being a political imbecile. On the surface, this move looks like career suicide, particularly since Hillary is probably about to clinch the nomination. Recall, Rep. Gabbard didn’t merely endorse Sanders after a bruising loss in South Carolina, she stepped down from her official position with the DNC to do so. This isn’t merely a statement, it’s the equivalent of dropping a neutron bomb on the Democratic establishment. So why did she do it?
While I think she genuinely agrees with Sanders on key issues, the reason she came out so aggressively is because she sees the writing on the wall. She’s playing the long game, and in the long game, Hillary Clinton represents a discredited and failed status quo, while Bernie Sanders represents a push toward the paradigm level change that will define the future.
In summary, I believe this marks the beginning of an all out civil war within the Democratic party. A war that won’t be over until someone successfully does to the Democratic Party what Trump did to the GOP.