Most of Jackson Lears’s nearly-5500 word hot take consists of arguments — “The Democratic Party in 2017 is based around the principle that ‘market utility [is] the sole criterion of worth,'” The only reason anyone could think Russia intervened in the 2016 election is their desire to foment conflict with the Russian state,” “the DNC totally rigged the 2016 presidential nomination” — that are both 1)made so often as to become rote cliches and 2)transparently false. You might think, given the extraordinary length of the thing, that he would at least bring some new arguments to the table, but in fact his Russia analysis is identical to Stephen Cohen’s, his claims that hacked EMAILS proved that the DNC rigged the primary fails to identify anything the DNC did to materially affect the primary, and his claim that the Democratic Party consists of Thatcherites who are totally resistant to change ignores the Obama administration and the 2016 platform entirely.
And, of course, there’s the Russia is a DISTRACTION argument:
We can gauge the corrosive impact of the Democrats’ fixation on Russia by asking what they aren’t talking about when they talk about Russian hacking. For a start, they aren’t talking about interference of other sorts in the election, such as the Republican Party’s many means of disenfranchising minority voters. Nor are they talking about the trillion dollar defence budget that pre-empts the possibility of single-payer healthcare and other urgently needed social programmes; nor about the modernisation of the American nuclear arsenal which Obama began and Trump plans to accelerate, and which raises the risk of the ultimate environmental calamity, nuclear war – a threat made more serious than it has been in decades by America’s combative stance towards Russia. The prospect of impeaching Trump and removing him from office by convicting him of collusion with Russia has created an atmosphere of almost giddy anticipation among leading Democrats, allowing them to forget that the rest of the Republican Party is composed of many politicians far more skilful in Washington’s ways than their president will ever be.
Democrats are talking plenty about disenfranchisement and healthcare, and the idea that “leading Democrats” think it’s likely that Trump will be impeached or have “forgotten” that other Republicans are bad is just farcical. It’s all like this. Or:
On certain important issues – such as broadening support for single-payer healthcare, promoting a higher minimum wage or protecting undocumented immigrants from the most flagrant forms of exploitation – these insurgents are winning wide support. Candidates like Paula Jean Swearengin, a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia who is running in the Democratic primary for nomination to the US Senate, are challenging establishment Democrats who stand cheek by jowl with Republicans in their service to concentrated capital.
Also supporting a higher minimum wage and “protecting undocumented immigrants from the most flagrant forms of exploitation” were, of course…Hillary Clinton’s “neoliberal” campaign, which was “cheek by jowl” to the Republican platform. And every serious candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020 has already come out for single payer healthcare. It is clever indeed for Swearengin to attack the Democratic establishment with policies embraced by the Democratic establishment!
But even sillier is Lears’s contention that the path forward for the resistance is…a primary challenge to Joe Manchin. Manchin was a rock solid vote against ACA repeal and the No Billionaires Left Behind Act. Despite this, he has a huge lead in the polls, in a state Trump carried by more than 60 points. And in an election where every Senate seat is absolutely crucial, our top priority is to emulate the Republican decision to nominate Christine O’Donnell in Delaware? “If my massively implausible theory that voters with a preference ranking of Trump > Manchin > Clinton are demanding MOAR SOCIALISM turns out to produce a median vote on the Supreme Court who would have to turn to his left to see Antonin Scala for the next three or four decades, I owe you a coke!”
And you can probably see where this is going:
Swearengin’s opponent is Joe Manchin, whom the Los Angeles Times has compared to Doug Jones, another ‘very conservative’ Democrat who recently won election to the US Senate in Alabama, narrowly defeating a Republican disgraced by accusations of sexual misconduct with 14-year-old girls. I can feel relieved at that result without joining in the collective Democratic ecstasy, which reveals the party’s persistent commitment to politics as usual.
The bare assertion of a single political scientist notwithstanding, Jones did not run as a “very conservative Democrat.” He ran as a pro-choice moderate liberal. IN ALABAMA. He won. In ALABAMA. Yes, without the WaPo story about Moore’s alleged child molestation he probably doesn’t win, but the race was already remarkably close before then, in large measure because Jones was clearly an exceptional candidate. Nothing about the Democrats winning Alabama is “politics as usual.” But this kind of narrative is impervious to any possible fact.
Anyway, if you think this analysis will repay the time investment, feel free. I would strongly recommend Something For Nothing instead.