I’ve said before that the Democratic Party isn’t really a political party at all, but rather something closer to a think tank—a kind of failed academic enterprise whose principal output is dubious research written in the style of a press release and the occasional bemusing and ineffectual appearance on the cable news. Although they endlessly carp that dastardly Republican gerrymandering has locked them ever out of real legislative power, in point of fact it’s the institution of the Democratic Party that’s benefited. The GOP gave birth to a feisty swamp monster of Tea-Party activism. Convince yourself all you want that this was the result of Koch-Bros astroturfing; in reality, it’s the Republican Party that’s been roiled by primary challenges to established teat-suckers; it’s the Republican Party that’s tossed out its goldfish-mouthed leadership in favor of a class of politicians really committed to exercising power. The Democratic leadership looks hardly different than it has for my entire adult life, a grim and aging collection of Clinton apparatchiks totally secure in their sinecures—all the more so because the only time the party ever does use what power it has, it’s to quash any discontent from its base or its leftward flank. It would be tempting to call it a zombie, but a zombie is living dead; a zombie is compelled by a lustful, powerful hunger. A zombie is all appetite—it is more than alive. The GOP is a zombie. The Democratic Party is a ghost—diaphanous, spooky, and utterly unable to interact with the actual world. At best, it can rattle the pots, or leave a little trail of slime.
The ACA, which may or may not die in the Senate, only ever made sense as an intermediate step toward a universal provision of health care. It was a big, ugly, ungainly, cobbled-together thing that, for all the partisan paeans to its wonderfulness and indispensability, never really worked very well. The part that did work was Medicaid expansion. In other words, the part that worked was the single-payer program that the Democrats so ardently refused—continue to refuse—to endorse. Supposedly the party of incremental progress, they seem to view each increment as the final end state of civilization and history. America Is Already Great, and all that. In order to sell progress as incremental, a series of steps in a journey of miles, there must be some destination in mind, a vision of a truly better society, an ideal. But the Democrats don’t have ideals; they just need you to be scared of Republicans.
Well, fair enough. Republicans are scary, though given the alacrity with which the Democrats rushed to praise Donald Trump for blowing up another little piece of Syria, you have to imagine that this relative terror is a matter of proximity, that the farther you get from the border, the more it appears that the American government moves with an awful unanimity of terrible, singular purpose. Anyway, the thing about the health care debate, such as it is, is that while every Democrat voted no, no one bothered to articulate a compelling alternate vision. Republicans want to kill you! Yes, yes—look, life is a conspiracy against itself; we’re all gonna die. You become inured to this sort of thing after a while. What we want to hear is not that the seas are rising (the Republicans!) and we’re gonna die alone (the Republicans!) and tumorous on the street because our chemo costs $50,000 every half hour and a hangnail is a preexisting condition (the Republicans!). What we want to hear is that there can be a better world, that through collective endeavor we can as a people feed our poor, care for our sick, and find at least some better balance between our rapacity and the health of our planet. Instead we get negation; we get Trump is a meanie and Paul Ryan wants to eat your kids, which does not get the 40% of people whose boss is a meanie and who can’t pay their deductibles to the polls.
The specter of Democrats literally singing in the halls of Congress because they imagine that more than a year from now they’ll reap some reward from the GOP’s pettiness and failure to construct any real alternative system is just despicable. Who are these people? Even if the bill dies in the Senate, even if they take the house in 2018 . . . Liberals accuse the GOP of forgetting about people, of sacrificing public good to the cruel idols of their idées fixes, but it’s the ostensibly liberal party that is actually abstracted from the human mass; it’s Nancy Pelosi for whom this whole thing is just a career. The Republican Party steers the ship of state toward an iceberg, and from below decks, Steny Hoyer gleefully cackles that this sure is gonna reflect badly on the captain. Grab your life vests people, though they may not save you, because the water’s real cold.
9 thoughts on “The Poseidon Misadventure”
Quibble: The only tangible good thing about the ACA was Medic**Aid** expansion. (Kinda sorta. Depending on which state you live in — the masterful architecture of Obama, that.)
Otherwise dead on. After last November, an organization with a genuine mission would have seen mass resignations, cullings by January. But the Dems still have the same tapeworms still tightly anchored to the colon walls….
Apostasy, but apostates are always interesting and usually correct.
Don’t get fooled by the facade of power. There is indeed some power left in the Congress, but it’s minimal. The real power lies where it has since ~1932: in the permanent government: the bureaucracy, the NGOs, the universities, and the press. While the press is at least getting some minor pressure from the Internet, the remaining mass of the Cathedral is just as powerful as ever. Ask yourself: will Trump repeal homosexual marriage? No? Why not? Will Trump repeal Title IX? Will Trump defund, well, anything? Planned Parenthood? “Refugee” resettlement? Why not? Will Trump keep XY-chromosome-Americans out of “women’s” bathrooms? No? So who’s winning here?
One wall (will he even get that?) does not a change of government make. You’ll know the government has changed when all intelligent and fashionable people (not unlike yourself, IOZ) agree that Republicans are cool, while Democrats are the party of losers.
Did you hear that St. Trayvon is getting an honorary B.S. in Aeronautical Science? Posthumous, of course. He wanted to be pilot, it seems, or at least he used to post on Facebook that he wanted “to get high”, which is much the same thing.
Thank god for people like Leonard, doing god’s work of counting chromosomes while the rest of us wallow in our petty worries of jobs, healthcare and the like.
He’s just another social science denier, pretending obsolete constructs like chromosomes and anatomy should still be functionally dispositive where the penumbrae of sex identity are concerned. Sophisticated liberals understand that a child or adult’s Most Recent Feelings and Heartfelt Announcements constitute the nonrebuttable scientific, political and legal auspices of gender and sex.
While your 7th grade insult was rather eloquently worded, it has failed to make me give a single fuck. Please explain the importance of the topic, rather than just prattle on with your self-righteous nonsense about what is or isn’t natural. TL;DR WHO GIVES A FUCK, BRO?
You’re chasing your own tail, chief. You assailed Leonard on chromosomes, and I replied on topic.. Meanwhile, per prevailing “science”, they matter less than the self-perception of that insulting 7th grader anyway.
A great piece of writing, couldn’t agree more. Interestingly (to me anyway) I just had a discussion with an insurance agent two days ago about the ACA. When I said that with Obama’s popularity in his first days in office he just might have been able to extend Medicare to everyone the agent countered with the argument that if we went to single payer it put all the people in the insurance industry out of work. I replied that people were dying because of our for profit medical industry but that didn’t phase him one bit. It was really all about him and his job. To sum it up: People dying, not important. His job: very important. At any rate your take on the Democratic Party is entirely accurate from where I sit. And what’s worse, the Democratic Party that pretends to be your friend while stabbing you in the back or the Republican Party which openly tells you it wants to to stab you. In the end it probably doesn’t matter because the results are the same, but I suppose that gets us into the lesser of two evil crap and I don’t want to go there. Fuck ’em all.
maybe trump is our Manchurian candidate?