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The Trump presidency offers Democrats the chance to split the Republican Party by standing with President Trump on some issues. If they don’t do this, Americans will continue preferring a divided Republican party over a Democratic party which simply represents partisan fringe groups rather than the great majority of working families that make up the American polity…

democratic presidentsA Republic cannot long survive if one of its major parties is a cancer on the body politic. The Democratic Party should take the recent election results as an opportunity to reflect upon itself—its purpose, form and conduct. There was a time, from the Lincoln-Douglas debates through the Johnson administration, when the Democratic Party represented one of the two pillars of American political thought. From Popular Sovereignty and Progressivism through New Deal Liberalism, the Democratic Party represented an important and necessary aspect of the American character: a combination of popular will, pragmatism, and Christian charity. Yet since 1972, the party began to pursue a politics that was distinctive for rebelling against these aspects of American character, rather than for representing them.

The only exception to this rule was President William Jefferson Clinton, who–if not for several personal faults–might have become to modern Democrats what FDR had been to earlier generations. President Clinton, however, failed, not only due to scandals so severely dividing and distracting the country, but more fundamentally because his example failed to reform a radicalized Democratic party and restore its once-broad popular base. President Clinton’s centrism, despite his intentions, did not become the centrism of Middle America, but instead drifted toward leftist doctrinaire madness; it was the centrism of corporate elitism and Wall Street fused with a for-profit, marketed counterculture. This brand of centrism essentially led to the failure of his wife’s recent campaign and to the failure of the Democratic Party across the board.

That failure was made possible by Democrats presuming that President Obama–who ran as a populist and centrist but who governed in the interests of the fringe left—had fundamentally succeeded in transforming the American character from that of a religious, self-governing and pragmatic people into a universal and homogenous metrosexual cosmopolis. The 2016 election proved quite the opposite. President Obama’s tenure had merely roused the sleeping giant, the Silent Majority, into definitive action. If Democrats now adopt the notion that the government of The Deplorables, for The Deplorables, and by The Deplorables is upon us–they will continue to lose elections.

Democrats can now do one of two things: they can console themselves with the unsophisticated notion that they “won the popular vote”–or they can take seriously the fact that President-Elect Trump’s victory is for all intents and purposes a victory on behalf of a coalition once built by Democrats and taken from them by Republicans since the times of Nixon—or given to Republicans ever since Democrats decided to rebel against America rather than represent it. A serious Democratic Party would not make the mistake of lamenting the existence of the Electoral College, endeavoring to tear down yet another pillar of American politics. A sane Democratic Party would stop opposing the American character and seek to represent and refine its better aspects in accordance with the Party’s great traditions. To do so would necessitate that, amongst other things, Democrats rediscover those traditions.

1. Abolish the super-delegates

First and foremost, the party of President Andrew Jackson—who fought to give the vote to every American rather than retaining it as a privilege for the rich and powerful and the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who busted the Party Machines and their Bosses in places like Tammany Hall in favor of the Common Man—can no longer remain the party which uses 500 “super delegates” appointed by party bosses to tilt primaries in favor of the bosses and against the people. The “super delegate” system must be abolished, and a democratic system must exist within the Democratic Party nominating process.

2. Do not become the Green Party, but become the American Party

Second, the party of Jefferson and Calhoun—both of whom were jealous guardians of states’ rights—should stop their persistent refrain that their candidate in 2016 won the “popular vote” while the President-Elect won on account of the Electoral College system. There is not one popular vote in the United States, divided into fifty portions. There are fifty popular votes united into one country. Anyone who understands this country understands the principle of a federal Presidency as opposed to a regional Presidency and guards against cheap sensationalism of the sort proposed by the fringe Green party recount initiative. The Democratic Party would do well not to follow in the footsteps of the fringe Green Party. The Democratic Party should defend the American constitutional system with its Electoral College. If Democrats persist in this narrative, they will end up with the same level of popular support as the Green Party.

3. Recognize that there is no urban-rural divide

Third, the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt—a New York cosmopolitan who knew enough to put the common man of Middle America first—should rid itself, if not of liberal aristocracy, then of liberal aristocracy without a sense of noblé obligée. The party of Henry A. Wallace should end this pretentious talk amongst the cosmopolitan liberal classes that Americans hear every four years, where Middle America is presumed stupid and the Liberal lady or gentleman is defined as the generous citizen who does us the service of explaining why Middle America is stupid (Bibles, gun-clinging, deplorability, etc). It goes without saying that many of these liberal cosmopolitans are themselves “hicks,” born in small towns. The true pejorative definition of a hick is not a citizen of Small Town America, but a person ashamed of his small town who moves to the big city in order to prove his worth. Mr. Trump, born and raised in New York, was a successful New Yorker–and had no need to prove to the country that he could be one—unlike his opponent whose entire political career was the embodiment of a rural inferiority complex in search of urban acclaim. All Americans are equal; there is no “better” or “worse” America. Urban and rural America have different needs and customs, but in political terms the Democratic Party cannot be the friend to one and the enemy to the other. An American political party does not elevate some American communities over others.

4. Form #ProTrumpDemocrats to counter #NeverTrump Republicans

If the Democratic Party wishes to become relevant and win elections, it must return to its roots and put the interests of the common man–the vast majority of the American electorate–above all else. This means working with and supporting President Trump on initiatives related to job creation, expanding educational opportunities, establishing free and fair trade, and building an international coalition to confront Islamic terrorism. It also means that Democrats stand up for legal immigration. It is fine to have one party (the Republican party) as the party skeptical of immigration. Democrats can make the counter-argument, demonstrating how immigration benefits and enriches the nation both economically and culturally. However, Democrats must end their support for illegal immigration, amnesty and any and all steps that ignore the rule of law and reward law-breaking criminal aliens. Democrats must not only support, but demand that President Trump follow through on his pledge to secure the border, and while a compromise on immigration is inevitable, it must include deportation for illegal immigrants where practicable and prudent. Democrats should lead the fight for deportation and the rule of law while championing legal immigration.

This list is not exhaustive, and it is likely not appealing to Democrats who see their duty as rebelling against and changing the character of America rather than representing and refining that character. Perhaps the Democratic Party is destined to be one of the twin engines of American suicide. Modern jetliners can indeed fly for a time with one engine down… but no passenger would really want to. Likewise, no citizen desires the clash between the two major parties to be a clash between keeping the country afloat and sinking it. Every citizen–whether Republican, Democrat or Independent–wishes for a return to a debate between the parties that is not Hamlet’s “to be or not to be?” but rather more reflective of the patriotic disagreements of Lincoln and Douglas. The Trump presidency offers Democrats the chance to split the Republican Party by standing with President Trump on some issues against those Republicans who would stand against him. If they don’t do this, Americans will continue preferring a divided Republican party that represents a tension between American populism and American conservatism over a Democratic party which simply represents partisan fringe groups rather than the great majority of working families that make up the American polity.

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4 replies to this post
  1. The point was reached where the radicalism, big government and control element held sway in the Dem party, how recent?, try the past eight years. Since the FDR/Truman years there has been a steady growth at the federal level, thankfully it seems, only seems, that there is some recognition of a need for a true federalism, any thing to escape the maw of gigantism and incompetence that everywhere shows its ugly side.

  2. All political parties in America, and elsewhere for all I know, are a coalition of factions. They may be worse than that, an association of feudal fiefdoms. (At least George Washington Plunkett would lead us to think so.)

    The Republican Primary clown car shows of 2012 and 2016 displayed the factions on the Right, and the current debacle and disarray among the Democratic Party’s factions has made them evident.

    The Republicans are presently undergoing a painful realignment as the old factional pundits and politicians have to deal with “bigly” rejection. The Democratic Party is still dominated by the factions of identity/victim politics which have been in the saddle since the 1968 Chicago Convention caused the Party bosses to make reforms (which backfired, IMHO).

    But as for analysis and its effect, does anyone recall the “postmortem” the Republican Party made and published after 2012? It was implemented, which gave them the victory in 2016, right? No?

    So much for analysis. What really happened was an “organic” and definitely unforeseen series of events, which defied the punditry at almost every level. (And so much for the historical revisionists who are now trying to claim they foresaw it all. Mr. Rieth gets credit for being one of the few.)

    But what concerns me more than the reformation of the Democratic Party (either it will succeed, or it will wither away and the Republicans will split into two major national parties), is the number of feckless pundits on Right as well as Left, who have exposed their nakedness in an Old Testament manner, by showing their “Principles” boiled down to Money and/or Power. (That many pro-Trumpers on the comment box circuit have taken to cat-calling “RINO” at Conservatives is quite another worry, but not unexpected.)

    All that remains is to see if Trump is a Black Swan event, or marks something more permanent in direction if not in consequence.

  3. I agree with Mr. Rieth on his suggestions to stabilize the Democratic Party. Except for # 3
    about the rural/urban divide. I believe it not only exists but has become a growing gap
    for a long time.

    The last election seemed to recognize that divide . The Democrats and Republicans
    need to be reminded that rural America still counts.

  4. An excellent suggestion, with a powerful opening sentence. But Bill Clinton as an exception? Only if his so obvious crookedness makes him stand out.

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