I recently read and enjoyed Ami du Radical’s “Downfall: Preparing for Right-Wing Factionalism,” and I agreed with everything but the conclusions. The writer suggests that Trump’s failure will lead to both corporate parties rushing to the center in the next few election cycles in order to grab moderate voters who have been alienated by the parties’ drifts to the fringe. I think the writer misses a broader context.
After twelve years of Reagan and Bush– twelve years that followed Carter’s paralyzed presidency –Bill Clinton disavowed the lefty liberalism of Carter and made the strategic decision to move to the center. Clinton himself had been a lefty liberal elected as governor of Arkansas, only to be ousted after one term by a conservative coalition. Clinton had then moved to the center and regained the governorship as a centrist, so Clinton brought that approach to national politics and defeated the republican incumbent by becoming “republican lite.”
In the Clinton ’90s, the democratic party slid to the right and occupied the “center” of the political spectrum with groups like the Democratic Leadership Conference, embracing relatively conservative democrats like Joseph Lieberman. The democrats became the party of the center.
In response, when George W. Bush campaigned in 2000, he did not campaign to the hard right but to the center. He brought with him the fluffy promises of “compassionate conservativism.”
He pandered to the center.
So, in light of all of this, both parties have already employed the strategies of campaigning to the center. The democratic party, in fact, has never left the center– demonstrated most recently by its sabotaging of a socialist in favor of the Clinton Machine that previously brought “welfare reform” and anti-crime legislation and hawkish military investment.
Pandering to the center is the failed strategy that Trump disavowed with electoral success.
Not only is pandering to the center not the wave of the future, but neither party perceives their interests to be served by watering down their own brands and moving closer to their respective opposition. Democrats have no motive to change their messaging or their positions, as they can simply say, implicitly, “We never screwed up like Trump has,” and attempt to gain windfall off of the opposing brand’s gaffs. The republicans will double down on their hard right rhetoric and simply imply that Trump’s ostensible failures are due to not charging hard enough, that the solution is to elect more of the problem.
The fact of the matter is, both parties have the arrogance of monopoly, knowing that voters have nowhere else to go. “We don’t have to substantially change,” both parties say with their conduct. “You’re stuck with us or them, and we think we can look slightly less unappealing than them.” So, in this regard, I think the writer of “Downfall: Preparing for Right-Wing Factionalism” has given the corporate parties way too much credit. They do not have the wisdom or the motivation to change the tunes they’ve been playing. They will continue to drift further from one another and increase the gridlock.
Upcoming elections will continue the polarization between the corporate parties– not their rush to the dead center –and will lead to further and further disaffection, lower and lower voter turn-out, and intense investment in polarizing demogogues, ill-equipped messiahs who will preside over the unraveling of the empire. Both corporate parties are clueless to just how much their respective clown shows have de-legitimized the hierarch program in the eyes of their audiences. They do not fear that the ruled may take a third option: opposing both parties and opposing the electoral process in its entirety –in essence, opting out, disinvesting, no longer expecting a favorable outcome from elections or from government whatsoever.
The corporate parties are perfectly happy to squabble over the votes of the dwindling numbers of participants, sniping each other from their shrinking bunkers, oblivious to the growing number of the alienated who no longer feel included in the spectacle and who may just realize their own collective power elsewhere.
The corporate parties do not fear that.
The elite don’t see it coming.
They cannot imagine life without them, and cannot imagine that WE can imagine life without them either.
This makes it much easier for us.
So, all of us who have foregone drinking their proverbial Kool-Aid have the challenge before us, making the disaffected and alienated conscious of their own power apart from the system that abandoned them. It is our job to suggest that since the system abandoned them, it is in their best interests to abandon it back, to imagine life without the corporate parties and their elites and the failed government system they attempt to sustain.
We can imagine life without them.
If we can imagine life without them, we can realize life without them.
If we can realize life without them, they’re fucked.
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