by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
The impending breakup of the Republican Party will not create more favorable conditions for Black and progressive electoral politics. Instead, it will compel the Democrats to build a “big tent” party, after the convention this summer. The strategy will “push Blacks and progressives back to the margins, smothering them with newly categorized ‘moderates’ who, before Donald Trump’s intervention, were Republicans.”
A Republican Meltdown Won’t Make the Democrats Better
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The Democrats are likely to escape such an implosion, unless Hillary’s inner witch makes it impossible for the Sandernistas to quietly acquiesce to her coronation.”
Bernie Sanders’ surprise victory in Michigan – and his best showing yet among Black voters, at 30 percent – increases the odds that Hillary Clinton will at some point in this primary season lose discipline and allow her inner witch to emerge, cackling insults at the Sandernistas and driving substantial numbers of them out of the Democratic Party.
The pollsters made their biggest miscalculations in decades in Michigan, where they had predicted Clinton would swamp Sanders by as much as 20 percentage points. Instead, the Vermont senator won 50 to 48 percent. However, most numbers-crunchers project that Sanders will himself need to pile up winning margins of 20 percent in a bunch of large states, plus win in Florida, to stand a chance of beating Clinton in pledged delegates – not to mention the overwhelmingly pro-Clinton “superdelegates.” Sanders cannot capture the nomination, but the longer he stays in the fight, the more his supporters will think of themselves as a movement that cannot coexist in the same party as Wall Street.
There is only a possibility of an outright split in the Democratic Party in Philadelphia, in July, but a Republican apocalypse in Cleveland seems all but inevitable. Donald Trump’s wins in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii make it unlikely that he can be stopped at a “brokered” convention. But, whether he wins the nomination or has it stolen from him, the Republican Party is in terminal meltdown. By choosing Trump as their champion, the GOP’s core white supremacist constituency is showing that it never gave much of a damn about the Republicans’ corporate trade and tax agenda, and that their main interest in foreign policy is in keeping foreigners out of the USA. Their “conservatism” is almost entirely defined by their racism – including white “evangelicals.” They feel betrayed, because Republican leadership clearly cares more about capital gains taxes than the perceived collapse in white group privilege and prestige. They want a real White Man’s Party – as was promised to them by Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 – not a Wall Street Party, especially since many of the white racist rank and file associate Wall Street with Jews.
“Their ‘conservatism’ is almost entirely defined by their racism – including white “evangelicals.”
The ruling class and all its “complexes” – military, industrial, national security, financial – is in panic at the prospect of losing control of a huge part of its white mass electoral base, which supports Trump despite (or, to some degree, because of) his protectionism and foreign policy pronouncements that are to the left of Democrats Clinton and Sanders. Trump says he would not have attacked and overthrown Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, because “they fought terrorism,” and would similarly call off the proxy war against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He would violate the “bipartisan” taboo – cherished as dearly by Obama and Clinton as by McCain and Romney – against anything that impedes the free flow of capital across borders, dragging jobs and tax bases with it.
These titans of capital and their establishment Republican servants cannot coexist with Trumpism, no matter how crudely defined, and are preparing to abandon or scuttle the ship, in search of a more dependable electoral yacht. Trump’s white legions will do the same if he is cheated of the nomination. Nothing can save the GOP from debacle, resulting in either two right-wing tickets or one vastly weakened presidential campaign that might drag down congressional, state and local Republicans.
Unfortunately, the Democrats are likely to escape such an implosion, unless Hillary’s inner witch makes it impossible for the Sandernistas to quietly acquiesce to her coronation. But a Democratic Party disaster is coming, whether Sander’s folks roll over or not. The Republican crack-up will immediately destabilize the Rich Man’s Party duopoly as it has existed since 1968. No matter what Hillary Clinton says at the convention to mollify Sanders supporters; no matter the lies she mouths about her commitment to the fight against economic injustice and corporate lawlessness; not matter how loudly she proclaims that Black lives matter, she and the rest of Democratic Party leadership will instantly mobilize to embrace the “moderate” Republicans that have been cast adrift by Trump’s GOP revolt. “Moderate” will be defined as any Republican that, for whatever reason, cannot stomach The Donald or abide the overt racism of his hordes.
“The Republican crack-up will immediately destabilize the Rich Man’s Party duopoly as it has existed since 1968.”
The dissolution of the Republican Party as we have known it compels its duopoly partner, the Democrats, to move quickly to scoop up the spillage: the tens of millions of disoriented Republican-leaning whites that will instantaneously be categorized as “moderates,” to be ushered into the Democratic ranks. Clinton and the DNC cannot help but lunge rightward with arms outstretched to grab a huge chunk of 2012 Romney voters. They are already savoring the prospect of gaining majority white support in a national election for the first time since 1964. Nothing will stop them from shaping a “big tent” strategy to build a “super-party” on the detritus of the GOP collapse. And not just for the 2016 campaign. The “big tent” they envision will no longer be 20 to 25 percent Black, with a similar proportion of progressive whites. Instead, corporate Democrats will launch an appeal to everyone to the left of the Aryan Nations. The campaign will become a kind of “One America” crusade, appealing to all “decent” citizens to “unite” against “bigotry” – but nothing substantive that might repel the newly available former Republican voters that will now be in play. Black lives will only matter rhetorically. Those elements of the Sandernista agenda that might be included in the Democratic Party platform adopted in Philadelphia will find no place in building a “centrist” superparty.
“Clinton and the DNC cannot help but lunge rightward with arms outstretched to grab a huge chunk of 2012 Romney voters.”
What we are describing goes way beyond the rightward shift that occurs after every Democratic convention. Duopoly electoral systems are like binary stars; they orbit around each other. The destabilization of one star/party’s orbit has an immediate and dramatic effect on the orbit/behavior of the other; their place in the universe is defined by each other. Democratic strategists are now scheming to pull whole districts of previously Republican voters into the party in November, and to keep them there. Black Democrats believe their overwhelming support for Clinton has made them indispensable to the party. They will welcome Hillary’s “big tent” national unity campaign as evidence of Black strength in the party, when in fact its aim will be to push Blacks and progressives back to the margins, to smother them with newly categorized “moderates” who, before Donald Trump’s intervention, were Republicans.
What’s needed is a complete breakup of the duopoly, not just the Republican half, which would only make the Democratic half more amorphously “centrist” and useless.
Given that the Democratic Party is hegemonic in Black America, its fracturing would wreak havoc in virtually every African American civic and political structure – a very good thing, since the dead weight of the Democratic Party has calcified and corrupted those structures over the past two generations. Any weakening of the Democrats opens space for a more radical Black politics consistent with the historical Black consensus on peace and social justice. However, Black leftists cannot rely on white progressives, like the Sandernistas, to set Black politics free by bringing down the Democrats. It will require a grueling and painful internal Black struggle, such as we at Black Agenda Report – and previously, at The Black Commentator – have been advocating for 16 years.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].