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Sunday, November 4, 2018


As though waiting for the election were not hard enough, the time changed this morning at 2 a.m., adding sixty more minutes to the wait.  In addition, we forgot to tell out cat about the time change, so she hopped up on the bed and woke us at three instead of four.  I have now fed the cat, checked my email, taken my walk, worked on the jigsaw puzzle, had breakfast, and it is still not yet ten.  This must be what Purgatory is like.  [In Hell, the Devil plays Mozart, if George Bernard Shaw is to be believed, so I could stand that.]

Herewith an idle speculation.  Let us suppose there really is a Blue Wave, washing the Democrats into control of the House but not quite the Senate.  What will happen in the next two years, assuming Trump survives and runs for re-election?  I think we may be on the threshold of another major party realignment, as big and consequential in its way as the realignment that occurred more than half a century ago when the Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party and reinvented themselves as Republicans.  Over time, this transformed the Republican Party into a Southern and Southwestern party, while the Democratic Party welcomed Black and Latino voters and became a bicoastal party with outcroppings in the plains states.

Trump has completely taken ownership of the Republican Party, and no politician can choose to remain in the party without embracing his brand of racism and xenophobia.  Many are uncomfortable with that, but as things stand, there is no place else for them to go.

The natural evolution of this situation would be for the Democratic Party to move to the right, declare itself a Big Tent, and welcome into the fold former Republicans, seeking to create an unstoppable Party of National Unity that would leave the Trump base out in the cold.  This move would involve giving the energized progressive base of the Democratic Party just enough crumbs to keep them from defecting, while leaving control of the party in the hands of the descendants of the Democratic Leadership Council, Bill Clinton’s creation.  One can already see the moves in this direction, in the fight for control of the DNC, lost by the progressives, in the revival of Joe Biden’s presidential dreams, and in the writings of a goodly number of opinion shapers.

I do not think I need to say how this makes me feel, but it is, I believe, the natural structural logic of the American political system.

The war won’t be over on Wednesday.  It will just be starting.


MS said...

For a bit of comic levity in these stressful times, if you missed (or never watch) SNL, it was in top form last night. Below are two links to their skits with Kate McKinnon spoofing Laura Ingraham discussing the caravan on its way to invade the U.S., and a political ad depicting Democratic anxiety over the upcoming election.

MS said...

I just learned that Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, is a big Trump supporter, and has been for several years. I did not notice - maybe I've been sleeping on the wrong pillow. Fortunately, it is not a My Pillow.

A boycott on My Pillow everyone?

MS said...

Prof. Wolff,

Your reference to Shaw’s Man and Superman is interesting. In the play, Shaw depicts the anarchist, Jack Tanner, as succumbing to the feminine charms of Anne, evincing Shaw’s belief that women constitute the actual force of power in society. Shaw, born in 1856, 100 years after Mozart’s birth, in his satirical brilliance depicts the devil retaliating against Mozart’s portrayal of him in Don Giovanni by playing Mozart’s music to Don Juan. (By the way, given the current feminist trend to depict God as a woman, should not Mephistopheles, always depicted as a man, also enjoy the same benefit of equal rights?)

s. wallerstein said...

Excellent interview with the civil rights activist and professor Mary Frances Berry about activism and civil rights.

Her advice, to avoid activist burn-out, is to focus on one issue and to turn off the news.
I know that many in his forum will resist that advice, but it's worth listening to. She also grades all U.S. Presidents from Nixon (an F) to Obama (a B+).

MS said...

Well, I just finished filling out my absentee ballot, which I will proudly deliver Monday morning to my township Clerk’s office.

Michigan has four State Proposals on the ballot, two of which could have significant political ramifications. One is aimed at reducing Republican gerrymandering of the election districts and requires the appointment of a 13 person commission consisting of 4 registered voters affiliated with each of the major parties, and 5 voters who identify with neither major party; partisan officeholders and candidates, their relatives and employees, are precluded from serving on the commission; districts shall be drawn to be geographically compact, of equal population, and shall not provide a disproportionate advantage to either major party. The second proposal allows for automatic voter registration when people renew or update their driver’s license, provides for obtaining a ballot during the 2-week period prior to an election, obtain an absentee ballot w/o providing a reason, and restores straight-ticket voting on ballots.

If everything goes as hoped for, on Wednesday morning, Michigan will have a female Governor, a female Secretary of State, a female Attorney General, a woman representing my district in the House of Representatives, a woman representing my state legislative district in the state senate, and a new female State Supreme Court Justice. The women of Michigan are going to kick Donald J. Trump is the ass!


Matt said...

Suppose the above comes about. I think there's a hopeful and a less hopeful way to see it. The hopeful way is one where the Democratic party becomes, in many ways, like a European Christian Democratic party, one that is more conservative than we'd like (including, probably, in some cultural ways, if they taken in enough Republicans) but that doesn't oppose modest forms of social democracy, such as more generous unemployment insurance, some form of socialized medicine, greater labor protections, and modest environmental protections. In this "hopeful" form, the opposition isn't the Republicans, which are reduced to a fringe group, but a more general "left" party, such as existed in much of Europe before the mid to late 80s-90s, when Labour, the French Socialists, whatever the relevant German party is that Gerhard Schroeder used to lead is called, etc. became more "neo-liberal" (I hate that term, but think it's appropriate here.) I'm not confident this would be the outcome, but it's possible.

The less hopeful version is that the Democrats would move to the right, keep a small left edge, but with the shrunken Republicans as the main opposition still, looking to come back, perhaps being able to do so when climate change isn't addressed and massive crisis breaks out, making it popular to blame foreigners, minorities, etc. I wish this didn't seem at least as likely to me, but I guess it does.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Matt, I think that is a very helpful analysis, and one that strikes me as right. One important difference about the American case is the growth of the non-White population, the consequences of which for American politics are very great.

MS said...

It looks like Roger Stone is in Mueller’s crosshairs (No. 5, below):