I swear to god, if you invited 20 Democratic and/or liberal partisans to a four-star, five-course meal at the finest restaurant in all Provence, at least eight of them would get up, cross the room, and start fighting over who gets to eat out of the dog's bowl. Presented with a legitimate national crisis in the White House, and presented with the golden political opportunity that said crisis is almost entirely the fault of the Republican Party, which has demonstrated that it is wholly incapable of handling it, the Democratic Party has a chance to realign the electoral map over (at least) the next four years. All that's required is shrewdness, patience, and the ability to resist cannibalizing themselves long enough to watch the dry rot collapse the other side entirely.
Fat fcking chance.
Right at the moment, the main issues within the Democratic Party seem to be, in no particular order: Kamala Harris: Threat or Menace?; Cory Booker: Sure, Legal Weed But Wall Street?; and, that evergreen squabble, Bernie Or Hillary; Why 2016 Will Never End. This is like that old Twilight Zone episode where The Major, The Clown, The Tramp, and The Bagpiper are all stuck in a windowless, impenetrable tube. Eventually, we discover that these characters are all dolls, and that the container is filled with a little kid's playthings. The current counterproductive exercises render promising Democratic politicians—including Harris and Booker—into toys for the ideological imagination, and not real people with the real potential to help end the political and governmental crisis in which the country placed itself last November.
DEMOCRATS SIMPLY CAN'T RESIST CANNIBALIZING THEMSELVES.
(This willingness by Democrats to accept the pejorative images created of potential allies by the political opposition is even more virulent in the case of Nancy Pelosi. Here's David Kim, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Georgia, via The Sacramento Bee: Although Democrats other than Harbaugh were not so unequivocal in their opposition to Pelosi, many offered caustic assessments of her leadership, and the political liability she poses: "President Putin probably has a better approval rating in Georgia than Nancy Pelosi." True or not, this is not only gratuitous, it's stupid.)
On the surface, the fight between the progressive left and what can be idly called "the center" would seem to be a healthy one, the kind of thing that can clarify issues going forward. But those 2016 primaries, a miserable cur of a campaign driven by suspicion, personal invective, and heroic struggling over trivialities, all of which were further inflamed by some well-timed Russian ratfcking immediately before the party's national convention, grinds on into the future with no end in sight. This struggle isn't manifesting itself as a battle over ideas and/or visions of where the country should go, but as a grubby tussle over issues already decided last summer and over the definitions of words like "neoliberal." The undying fantasy of a Third Party is being revived again, mostly by people who absolutely have no idea the kind of work that would entail—hint: ask Lani Guinier—and absolutely no idea of how futile the whole effort might be.
(And that's not even to get into the completely unnecessary explosion that Congressman Ray Lujan, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, set off when he said the DCCC would support anti-choice candidates as long as they "fit the districts" in which they're running. Realpolitik or no, it is not a smart thing to declare publicly that you're open to pitching the privacy rights of 51 percent of the population—and of what is generally your entire margin of victory around the country—overboard. If an anti-choice Democrat wants to run, you let that candidate stand up and take the heat alone, instead of telegraphing to your most loyal voters that the party establishment is open for business on this issue. Where do they find these guys?)
Me? I blame Anthony Kennedy.
If he hadn't tipped the balance on Citizens United, our elections wouldn't be as swamped as they are with corporate money. Every primary campaign—and, increasingly, in both parties—is now framed as corporate 'hos vs. the Unsullied Base. What's damaging to democracy is that the argument is now wholly beside the point. More than any time since the end of the 19th Century, money is the metric by which a candidate's viability is judged. If taking money from anyone with an annual income of over $100,000, or if once having had someone of that sort for a client, or if you went out during your time out of politics to make your own pile—if any of these is an unpardonable heresy, then you're going to be very short on candidates.
The argument is pursued so ferociously because the stakes are so very small. There is only one way to break the money power that's corrupted our politics and intensified the performance aspects of them, and that's to elect enough members of the national legislature to overturn CUand return sanity to what is now a rigged casino gone mad. Or, you can elect a president who will appoint judges who will revisit the issue with a critical eye. Is there anyone who thinks Kamala Harris wouldn't do that? Or Cory Booker? Or Deval Patrick, who's the current punching bag for the leftier-than-thous?
This also requires that you restock the farm system in the states. There's already more talk about the 2020 presidential campaign than there is concerning the hundreds of state-level races this year and the next. Those races require (marginally) less money and, if you want to birth a generation of non-corporate Democrats, that's the place to start. But, for the love of George McGovern, stop fighting over things over which you have no control. Stop wrestling over the gun that your party can use to shoot itself in the foot. Circumstances are too dire for that now.