For starters, this whole kerfluffle over President Trump’s latest weekened twitterfest has to be the most banal and stupid of discussions.
Did anyone learn anything about Trump that we didn’t know before? Is it going to change the fact that the targets of his quip are overwhelmingly unpopular and potentially jeopardizing Democratic hopes of regaining the White House in 2020?
Of course not.
Yet consider for a moment that Trump isn’t the only thing that the Four Horsemen of the Wokeness believe are racist. Just recently, none other than U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the target of the charge of racism — all for merely criticizing the extreme and unrealistic vision of what immigration reform should look like.
Like Danton to the Jacobins, Pelosi is finding her Robespierre. Never mind the fact that Pelosi, it so happens, works in a legislature that seeks to govern and not merely gesticulate wildly when things don’t quite go their way. Never mind the fact that Pelosi has long been caricatured as the most ruthless and extreme of the political left in this country (much as Ryan and Boehner were pilloried in caricature as crypto-fascists by the media and their attendants).
Maureen Dowd over at the New York Times exemplifies the problem the progressive left is having with their erstwhile liberal counterparts within the Democratic Party, namely that everything they don’t like isn’t just wrong — it is hostis humani generis:
Congress is not a place where you achieve radical progress — certainly not in divided government. It’s a place where you work at it and work at it and don’t get everything you want.
The progressives act as though anyone who dares disagree with them is bad. Not wrong, but bad, guilty of some human failing, some impurity that is a moral evil that justifies their venom.
Therein lies the problem, no so much because this is a question that can be resolved via discussion, but because the “little Robespierres” of the left and the right now view politics as a quasi-bloodsport — with Antifa squaring off against Proud Boys in an effort to get “useful idiots” to create environments to stir up an otherwise silent and passive majority.
AOC and her three companions haven’t figured this out. Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership find their extremism useful, but will not let them touch the wheels of power. This was the painful lesson the House Freedom Caucus had to learn over the course of the Obama era. Rhetoric was all well and good if it whipped people up and captured majorities in the U.S. House — but we’re not actually going to build a wall, or deport millions of people back to their point of origin, or bring back jobs, or burn beautiful clean coal — right?
…that is, until we found a demagogue willing to tell the public what they wanted to hear.
The problem here isn’t that folks like Pelosi and Schumer (and Rahm Emmanuel) don’t see the solution clearly. Rather, they have fallen into the same paradigm that the Republicans did in 2008. The extremism of Antifa, the Green New Deal, the kneeling at the National Anthem, the imposition of “pride” and forced acceptance of LGBTQ values in the public square (or else), the celebration of abortion as a right and the stated intent to confiscate firearms considered too scary are all staring Middle America right in the face.
Democrats have to choose between a centrism people recognize as authentically centrist — not a return to the Obama era but to something that pledges to restore faith in American institutions and recommit ourselves to civil liberties and a basic trust of the other in this country — or they are going to deceive themselves by swallowing their own rhetoric and pretending that the Obama era did more good than harm.
Meanwhile, Republicans are choosing to duck and cover — yes, even stalwart Never Trump conservatives who would never have dreamed of voting for Trump in 2016 but cannot help but look at what the progressive left in this country really wants. There is a sentiment among Republicans that the political left in this country really does hate us. That there is no safe place to hide.
Democrats in turn should consider that, despite almost three years of caging Trump as a racist and a bigot and a hater, most Republicans aren’t considering an alternative. Not because we don’t like Trump — most Republicans are split right down the middle — but because we genuinely fear what the Democrats will do once in power.
When the rhetoric of the extreme left starts turning #NeverTrump into #MaybeTrump, one might think that introspection would be the order of the day. Instead, if the Democratic presidential primaries have been any example, it has been a mad rush to the far left.
Better the devil we know than the deep blue sea.