The cartoonist and columnist says that Trump’s presidency is what has galvanized the progressive movement and that they must seize this moment and avoid the siren call of nominating a Hillary Clinton clone such as Joe Biden. Instead they must take this opportunity to drag the Democratic party away from the Obama-Clinton-Biden Republican-lite mentality that has sucked the party into a neoliberal quagmire.
He says that Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump has actually worked out well for progressives who tend to be marginalized whenever Democrats win the presidency with their usual neoliberal candidates.
Yes, Trump has been a disaster. He is a terrible president, an international embarrassment, insane, brazenly corrupt, overtly racist, with over-the-top authoritarian tendencies.
But consider the alternative.
If Hillary Clinton were running for reelection, progressivism would still be on the outs. Like Obama, Hillary wouldn’t have appointed a single liberal, much less progressive, to her cabinet. She’s so far to the right of Trump on foreign policy that she might have gone to war against Iran. Russian national security analysts concluded that Clinton was crazy enough to start World War III. She’s equally awful on domestic stuff. Hillary is against any increase in the minimum wage. She opposes Medicare For All. She hates the Green New Deal. Her bankster backers would be running wild.
Because progressives withheld their votes in 2016, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the Democratic frontrunners, enjoying the combined support of 50% of primary voters. Both support a $15 minimum wage, Medicare For All, free college tuition and the Green New Deal. There is no way, no how, that those policy positions would be part of a Clinton 2020 campaign.
Progressives are so close to seizing control of the Democratic Party that they can taste it. Why, at mile 25 of this political marathon, should they let up on the pressure? They’re about to win!
If Bernie Sanders is the nominee, supporting him is a no-brainer for progressives. He’s been one of them forever. He’s trustworthy. (It’s a different calculus for leftists like me. Among other things, he needs to swear off militarism.) Progressives will vote for him.
Warren’s bonafides are squishy. She used to be a Republican, endorses capitalism and keeps Hillary on her speed dial. Is she a prog-come-lately or another fauxgressive who would sell out to Goldman Sachs? She would have to come up some way to reassure voters that she’s more Sanders than Clinton.
Rall also tackles head-on the big question raised by the fearmongering neoliberals and ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’, that nominating a progressive to head the Democratic ticket might result in Trump being re-elected. This argument is weakened by the fact that Clinton was just the kind of candidate they prefer but lost anyway. It is clear why the party establishment favors the dubious strategy of trying to win back the white, male, working class constituency. It enables them to promote oligarchy-friendly policies in the guise of moderation and centrism.
But Rall goes further and very much against the grain of most political analysts.
But what if the DNC shoves Joe Biden or another centrist/moderate/corporatist down our throats again? As usual they’ll say that we have to pull together behind some turd in order to defeat the dastardly Donald Trump. But why?
History is clear. Lame-duck presidents don’t get big laws, new wars or much in the way of policy accomplished during their second terms. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan was hobbled by dementia and Iran Contra, Clinton was impeached because of Monica and the second Bush spent his last four years in the quagmires of Iraq and then the bursting of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Obama avoided scandal but an intransigent Republican Congress left him with little to show for years five through eight.
By 2021 Trump will almost certainly have already been impeached. Congress will probably still be Democratic. I ask my fellow Trump-haters: what exactly are you so afraid of in a second term? What do you think the president can do in a second term that he hasn’t already done? Does he strike you as the kind of person who has been plotting some big right-wing surprise to unleash in case he wins reelection?
I agree with Rall that the Democrats should nominate a progressive and focus their efforts on energizing the progressive base of the electorate that has long been marginalized by the party,. Young people especially are drawn to the progressives policies articulated by Sanders and Warren.
Rall’s position is worth taking seriously by those who hate Trump but are nervous about Sanders or Warren becoming the nominee, even though a so-called moderate was the one who lost to Trump in 2016. However, I disagree with him that progressives should not get behind a rotten nominee like Biden. What I fear is that Biden or someone like him will not be able to energize the progressive voters nor will they be able to win back enough of those who defected from the Democratic party and voted for Trump in 2016.
Also Rall’s position that a second Trump presidency would not be able to do a lot of damage is something that I am not at all sanguine about, unless the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress and are determined to put the brakes on all Trump’s awful initiatives,. But we must also recognize that in such a situation, like an injured and cornered animal, Trump will lash out increasingly erratically in his frustration and who knows what might happen then?