Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."





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Monday, February 11, 2019

HANDICAPPING THE HORSE RACE


Over the weekend, two more candidates – Klobuchar and Warren – entered the lists for the 2020 Democratic nomination, and I think I need to say something about how things are shaping up.  Let me put my priorities on the table for all to see.

First:  the number one priority is to beat Trump.  I begin to think that regardless of what Mueller and the Southern District of New York turn up, Trump will in fact survive to run for a second term and no Republican will defeat him in the primaries regardless of how disastrous for them his candidacy appears.  He may be impeached by the House but he will not be convicted by the Senate and the worse things look for him in the courts, the more he needs a second term to avoid indictment and conviction.  Obviously, this is speculation, but that is how it looks to me now.    So, my first choice for Democratic nominee is someone who can clearly beat Trump.  If the polls suggest that virtually any of them can [and this is entirely possible], then we can talk.

Second:  Any viable Democratic candidate in this cycle will give lip service to progressive policies, and lip service may be all we need.  What matters when it comes to actual progressive legislation is the make-up of the House and Senate.  Furthermore, any proposal, no matter how bold and exciting, will be whittled down and compromised and hedged about before it becomes law.  That is how the American political system works, for better or worse.  We need a welling up of progressive energy from below.  So it is essential that the left put forward as many viable progressive candidates as possible at every level from town water commissioner to governor and senator to seize the 2020 opportunity, which may shape up to be a left-wing wave election.

Third:  The most we can hope for is that previously fringe left policies – like Social Security, Medicare, Minimum Wage, and progressive taxation – become mainstream realities and then taken-for-granted baked-in realities, even though they will always fall far short of what people like me want.  That too is how the American political system works, and I have lived long enough to see it play out that way repeatedly.

So, let’s not waste time worrying about which candidate, if any of them, fills my dreams with joy.  The last candidate who made me feel that way was FDR, and that is simply because I was ten years old and had not yet read Marx.

5 comments:

David Palmeter said...

David Leonhardt has an interesting column on this question in today's NY Times. His conclusion, Klobuchar and Brown are the two strongest Democratic candidates:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/10/opinion/amy-klobuchar-sherrod-brown-2020.html?emc=edit_ty_20190211&nl=opinion-today&nlid=4662323620190211&te=1

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...


I am inclined to argue that the matter of Trump surviving in office is still up in the air. Right now he would not be convicted by the Senate. The content of the Special Prosecutor's report is key. Recall that Nixon had strong republican support until, if I recall correctly, Butterfield testified to the existence of the taping system. SCOTUS then ruled the tapes had to be released and it was all over.

If the Mueller report has sufficiently damming information, Republican senators will then have very different political calculations to make, ones that bears directly on their political survival. The 'blue wave' of the midterms is not a fluke and will continue in the next election. The vast majority of districts won by republicans saw significant increases in the Democratic vote totals that, should they continue, are an existential threat to the incumbents' political futures.

In short, the Mueller report may change the game completely. I think, also, that impeachment is a necessity, a constitutional necessity f only to see if the constitution has a chance of surviving as a meaningful document or if it continues to die though disuse.


David Palmeter said...

An important difference between Watergate and Trumpgate (for lack of a better term) is timing. Nixon was gone August of '74; the counterpart of that for Trump is August 2018. The Watergate hearings were in the summer of '73. They mesmerized the country, carried on all three major networks. The PBS News Hour got its start then. The country was tuned into them they way they were tuned into the World Series. That won't happen today. We haven't had those hearings yet, which would convince a large majority, including many Republicans, that he has to go. And with 500 channels and the internet,there are too many alternatives to have that kind of effect.

Jerry Fresia said...

"We need a welling up of progressive energy from below."

Indeed, but if the progressive '30s and '60s are a guide, militant and large social
movements are key.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

And strong unions too, Jerry, as I am sure you would agree. Am I the very first eighty-five year old man in history to think that things were better when I was young?