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The Theory That Democrats are the Only Actors in American Politics

UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 01: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., arrive for a news conference in the Capitol’s Senate studio on budget negotiations, October 1, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I’m not sure if we will ever reach peak Stoller, but this is amazing:

Even for useless “messaging” speculation, this is incredibly dumb. To state the obvious, if Pelosi’s attack on TrumpCare focused on red tape rather than death and suffering, Stoller would be attacking her for that — and this would be considerably more plausible. And there’s an even bigger problem here: TrumpCare is massively unpopular. In a polarized country, it’s almost impossible for any policy to be this unpopular. If it passes, it won’t be because Democratic messaging isn’t good enough. It will be because a variety of antidemocratic elements — some baked into the constitutional cake, some Republican-created — give Republicans a huge electoral advantage that insulates most Republican legislators from backlash. But, for whatever reason, a lot of online “leftists” are as allergic to structural analysis as Mark Halperin himself.

As one commenter observed, one reason Stoller is making such a transparently silly argument is that the real point is “Nancy Pelosi sucks.” But I think it goes further than that. Another thing that mainstream journos and people who play tough-minded leftists online have in common is a belief that Democrats are the only relevant actors in American politics. The beauty about “messaging” arguments is that precisely because they’re unfalsifiable you can always tell a story about how the Democrats could have won. If a Republican Congress won’t pass Obama’s legislative agenda, it’s Obama’s fault. If a Republican Congress passes terrible legislation with zero Democratic votes, it’s the Democrats’ fault. If you lose your car keys, it’s because of bad Democratic messaging. Republicans don’t really have any agency or effect on American politics; every political outcome is controlled by the Democratic Party regardless of who controls the levers of power.

Evidently, your felt need to advance this asinine line of reasoning will be much greater if your brand is assertions that the party of Medicaid expansion and Sonia Sotomayor is the same, or perhaps even worse, than the party of destroying Medicaid to pay for an upper-class tax cut and Sam Alito. What else are you going to do, admit you have no idea what you’re talking about and find someting else to do for a living?

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