We all know it’s coming. Politics has changed, and we aren’t going back to the old norms. We’re all slowly realizing that the familiar political scene is going to look quite different in the future. What’s it going to look like?

The recent purging of the Democrat Party got me to thinking, and a possible scenario has emerged: the Republican Party virtually collapses, a new leftist party emerges (though it isn’t very political powerful), and moderate Republicans defect forming a new, centrist Democrat Party, a Party that becomes the one major political powerhouse.

I sat down yesterday afternoon to doodle it out. A picture is worth a thousand words, and what not, so in this post I’m doing less writing and more coloring.

The Good Ole Days

Recently the Democrat Party underwent a substantial purging of Bernie Sanders supporters, but this purging isn’t entirely surprising, and I think that it represents more than just the latest drama in the Democrat Party’s ongoing conflict between the youthful/radical element of the party (Bernie Sanders) and the liberal old guard. I think this might be the beginning of the major political realignment that we all knew was coming.

First, this is the familiar political scene, as I’ve known it, all of my life:

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Politics in the United States, as it has been for all of my life

 

This first doodle of mine shows politics as we’re used to it, where the moderate factions of both parties dominate public policy. The left and right wings have been largely out of the picture. Kind of like how Bernie spent most of his career in Washington without having any substantial impact on policy.

Most people were happy, or at least happy enough. Of course many still suffered from the typical American way of life: non-white people remained an essentially criminalized element of society (disproportionately imprisoned and systemically discriminated against), women suffered systemic sexism, gay/lesbians weren’t allowed full civil rights (like marriage), and non-humans and the environment have never really been more than a line item on a corporate income statement (mere “resources”) —- but the majority of people in America had plenty of consumer goods and gadgets to keep them happy, so most Americans could remain ignorant and unmoved by those who suffered.

Then things changed.

The Political Parties Break Faith

The moderates were simply not working for the interest of their base, working instead for special interest groups. People turned to the extremists and radicals, and this is the way politics looks right now:

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The new political map. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

 

Both parties became corrupted, and legislation is now (quite literally) written by special interest groups. Laws are not based on the will of the people or on how popular legislation is with people, laws are passed based on whether or not there is enough money behind it. (see YouTube vid, below, for an illustration of how politics now works)

Both political parties broke faith with their base, and the people turned to the groups that used to be “extremists” within the party. These used to be the radicals that were marginalized or simply viewed as a nuisance.

All of a sudden, “radicals” like me were in the mix, socialism and activism became trendy. Bernie united the left, and on the right the Cult of Trump actually captured the Presidency.

The Center Holds: A Major Political Realignment

What happens next is anyone’s guess. I have no idea. I’m not making a prediction, only pondering possibilities. But here’s a possibility: Moderate Republicans give up on Trump and defect, en mass, to the Democrat Party.

Here’s one possibility, where centrists and moderates unite:

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The moderates and centrists of both parties unite to save America from the radicals!

 

This would be a MAJOR political realignment, but honestly those of us who follow politics expect that there will be a major political realignment, at some point. We just don’t know what it will be.

The above scenario makes sense to me, and here’s why it’s a very realistic possibility:

  • The American public is increasingly scared of Trump and the instability in America.
  • The Republican Party can’t get anything done under Trump, and moderates are eager for a change.
  • Moderate Republicans (who are used to pulling the strings and calling the shots) are increasingly marginalized. They increasingly despise the radical right-wing and are ready to be done with them.
  • In general, the Republican Party has no stability under the increasingly mentally unstable Trump.
  • Democrats have publicly purged the party of their radical element and marginalize Bernie Sanders and his supporters.
  • Democrat leadership like Chuck Schumer continue to reaffirm their commitment to the wealthy and powerful. (See below)
  • Democrats could strike a deal: they could privately make promises of leadership to the most powerful moderate Republicans, if those moderates/centrists defect.
  • Democrats could privately promise moderate Republicans that the Democrat Party will be liberal but remained committed to capitalism and to the corporations that benefit the most from capitalism.

Again, I’m no prophet and I make no predictions. It’s just that given the recent purging of the Democrat Party, they are setting themselves up nicely to court moderate Republicans. It’s a bold move by old guard Democrats, but I think they are doing it not merely out of spite for the Berners but because they have a plan to not only hold on to their current power (which has been threatened by the Berners) but to actually expand it.

Thoughts?

Comments?

 

Schumer Note: Chuck Schumer recently reaffirmed his commitment to the wealthy (“God bless them”), even while slamming the Republican tax budget: “The rich are doing well in America. God bless them, I’m glad they are. And American corporations are recording record high profits—just look at the stock market, which reflects that. God bless them too, we hope they do well. But middle class incomes have not risen with the rise in corporate profits or record levels of wealth concentrated among the wealthiest families.” This is definitely rhetoric that moderate Republicans can get behind. Source: Senate Passes Resolution

Note on how politics and the major political parties were corrupted and broke faith with the American public:

12 thoughts on “What’s the future of politics going to look like?

  1. Alternative futures fiction — I like it.

    I hadn’t read about the Dem purge, so thanks for the heads-up. A couple of months ago I received a survey from the DNC (I still get my dad’s mail even though he died more than 3 years ago and he was a registered party member) asking my opinion about a proposed party platform. Very conservative — single payer wasn’t even presented as a possibility, nor was raising taxes on the rich or getting out of the various wars in which the US is involved. So I suppose the purge has been in the works for some time.

    I see that 40% of the US population is now obese. You don’t get obese overnight — gain a pound per year for 30 years and you’ve crossed the threshold without even realizing it. I get the same sense of American politics in both parties having drifted incrementally to the right over the last 30 years. Trump looks radical but it’s mostly personality and style — his position wasn’t as radically right-wing as Cruz or Rubio. Of course the right claims that the country is getting progressively socialist, but that’s clearly fake news when you look at the actual political changes that have happened in tax rates, deregulation, privatization of the public sector, labor laws, etc. and the resultant enrichment of the already-rich. Each change was a relatively small increment, but cumulatively it’s radical.

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    1. John, yes. I think that much of politics is about imagining future fictional alternatives to the norm, then developing a strategy and organizing to make these imaginary worlds a reality. In fact, that’s what people rally around. It’s the spiritual core, i.e. John Lennon’s Imagine or Gandhi’s “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

      Of course, bad guys imagine alternative realities too. I think, in fact, it’s in the nature of power itself that people do the most fictional writing. I think that’s why I have always liked mafia movies. The nature of power is in constant flux. People are angling inside of each family to work their way up, and at the same time there is the possibility of forming alliances with other families (or even secret alliances with members of other families). As if that weren’t enough, the mafia also needs to align with judges, politicians, and law enforcement if they are going to make a go of it.

      The Godfather films were so brilliant in bringing all of this together. I think that’s why they were so successful. The most successful mafia dons are always the ones who can see the big picture, imagine myriad scenarios that will best consolidate and expand their power, while keeping themselves from being vulnerable. All of this is an act of imagination, a work of fiction.

      I think capitalism (as we know it) works in very similar ways to the mafia.

      Similar thing with Game of Thrones, which I recently finished watching and am now reading through the novels. Here’s a short YouTube clip of Petyr Baelish, a slimy schemer:

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    2. 1) I like your analogy of incremental change.

      2) “Trump looks radical but it’s mostly personality and style — his position wasn’t as radically right-wing as Cruz or Rubio.”

      I agree. Cruz or Rubio would have done much more damage, and would have done it much quicker. Rubio especially, since he’s an insider who knows how to government works. Trump, however, posses a much more “existential threat” (as people are calling it these days). I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Trump’s inexperience, combined with his general intellectual idiocy (his own secretary of state called him a “moron”) makes him mostly just an existential threat, at least at this point. There’s a possibility he could get the hang of things, but as of now his threat has been largely neutralized, by his own utter incompetence.

      3) “Of course the right claims that the country is getting progressively socialist, but that’s clearly fake news when you look at the actual political changes that have happened in tax rates, deregulation, privatization of the public sector, labor laws, etc. and the resultant enrichment of the already-rich. Each change was a relatively small increment, but cumulatively it’s radical.”

      I agree with you, if we’re speaking strictly about economics: the nation has moved far to the right. However, conservatives do have a point, i.e., they lost the battle of ideas in terms of social issues. Socially, the nation has moved left (gay marriage, marijuana, greater consciousness of diversity, acceptance of immigrants, etc.), and the Democrat Party has happily moved that direction. The Democrats are happy to talk about diversity, and also to put into leadership diverse people, so long as they don’t have to put their money where their mouth is.

      The Democrat Party has never posed a serious challenge to the right-ward economic shift that you mentioned: tax rates, deregulation, privatization of the public sector, labor laws, etc. In fact, quite the opposite. Under Bill Clinton, deregulation and privatization ramped up, because, as he put it, “the era of big government is over.” Clinton repealed the last of Glass-Steagall act, which led to the banking abuses that still go largely unchecked.

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  2. Here’s a link on the DNC purge. Bernie supporters were ousted and corporate lobbyists and Clinton loyalists were installed. It’s a pretty bold, very public, and highly visible demonstration of an anti-Bernie and anti-leftist direction:

    Perez revealed his picks this week, ahead of the D.N.C.’s first meeting since he was elected chairman. Upon perusing it, progressive party members were incensed to find that he had demoted a number of veteran delegates who’d backed either Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison in his bid for party chairman against Perez, or Sanders in 2016. (Ellison, who now serves as Perez’s deputy, was widely viewed as a proxy candidate for the more liberal, Sanders wing of the party.) Those ousted include Ray Buckley, James Zogby, Alice Germond, and Barbara Casbar Siperstein, NBC News reports. “I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact,” Zogby said of the D.N.C. shake-up. “I want to heal the wound of 2016.”

    Germond, too, noted that the move does not bode well for the party’s quest to unify its progressive and establishment wings. “It is quite unusual for a former party officer who has been serving on the D.N.C. for forever to just be left out in the cold without even a call from the chairman,” she told NBC News. “So I assumed it had something to do with [my] support for Keith. . . . I understand that I fought very hard for Keith Ellison. And I understand that to the winners go the spoils.” In a statement to NBC News, Karthik Ganapathy, a spokesperson for Ellison, said, “Keith suggested names for D.N.C. at-large membership and committees. Some were selected and some were not. In the end, the selections are the prerogative of the chair.”

    To add insult to injury, Perez also tapped several individuals who have lobbying or corporate-interest backgrounds—a move that has sparked criticism in the past. The pack of new delegates includes Joanne Dowdell, a registered lobbyist for Fox News parent company News Corp; Harold Ickes, a veteran of the Clinton White House; and Manuel Ortiz, a lobbyist for CITGO Petroleum Corp and Puerto Rican interests. At least 10 additional Perez-tapped superdelegates have previously been registered as lobbyists, Bloomberg reports.

    That last paragraph, especially, is a strong signal that the Democrat Party is going all-in with corporate interests. The essential point of conflict between the DNC and the Bernie wing has always been that the DNC is too closely aligned with corporate interests and the wealthy rather than being a party that responds to the needs of the grassroots. This purge is a bold move to show that the DNC is the party of the powerful.

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/tom-perez-dnc-shake-up

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  3. From this article about the purge:

    Here’s the subtext to this dysfunction: The Republican National Committee has outraised the DNC by nearly 2-to-1 this year. Sanders has not helped the Democratic Party apparatus with fundraising, nervous about giving his small-dollar donor machine over to party leaders who opposed him. Major donors have stopped writing checks and small-dollar fundraising has lagged behind Republicans. The key question: With dysfunction and lackluster fundraising, how effective can the Democratic Party be in supporting candidates? What does this mean for elections next month? For regaining a foothold in states in 2018? And to have a shot at taking either chamber in Congress?

    Purportedly this is why the Republican mainstream has been reluctant to separate itself from Trump: he’s a great fundraiser.

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    1. The irony doesn’t cease to amuse me: having become a party that embraced Big Money politics, the DNC is now finding itself starving to death because they can’t raise the massive sums necessary to compete. Had they simply embraced Bernie and the progressive wing, they could have tapped the grassroots for resources. The big question is why they are sticking with Big Money and still following the old playbook, the same playbook that lost them elections across the board in 2016: losing the Presidency, losing seats in both houses of congress, and losing at the state level.

      The Obama celebrity seemed to bring in enough money to keep them afloat, but that proved deceptive, because as soon as Obama’s term was up, it seems that Big Money gravitated to the Republican Party, or else just stayed out altogether.

      It’s clear, though, that whatever their intentions, Dems are doubling down on Big Money. That’s the most obvious reason why they have repeatedly distanced themselves from Bernie and his movement.

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  4. So Sanders and the DNC are mutually keeping each other at arm’s length, whereas so far Trump and the RNC remain allied. It seems likely that that’s because the radical wing of the Republican Party has built such a strong presence top to bottom in American politics that any one of 3 radicals could have been nominated for the presidency and won it. In contrast the radical wing of the Democratic Party hasn’t made many inroads except in sporadic races. And why is that? Probably it’s because money and power do go hand in hand. It is possible to buy elections. But Trump got outspent by his Republican rivals and still won the nomination easily. Sanders might have been able to do that too if it wasn’t for the superdelegates already being locked in to Clinton. I kind of thought it was a mistake for Sanders to run as a Democrat given that he’d been an independent and pretty much knew that Clinton had the nomination sewn up even before the first primaries. How does Sanders build an independent left-wing movement separate from the Party?

    We live in Durham, which is a staunchly Democratic progressive town. Last year our congressional district’s racist gerrymandering was deemed unconstitutional by the conservative US Supreme Court. Republicans don’t even run here because they know they can’t win. The mayor and city council elections are coming up and all of the major candidates are progressives, campaigning for better public schools, less racial profiling by the police, better jobs for underemployed locals rather than just drawing in high-paid outsiders, low-income public housing, better public transportation. And those progressive liberals are surely going to win the Durham municipal elections. In contrast, the reactionary-conservative positions would be: private school vouchers, law and order, lower taxes to attract for corporations, lower property taxes and gentrification, better roads. On each of those positions I think there is a distinct decision to be made that, if made consistently over the years and the decades, would shift the country in a different direction, and arguably a better one. But progressivism is still operating within a capitalist framework, seeking to ameliorate the inevitable inequalities of full-bore corporate capitalism through regulation and taxation, trying to make sure everyone gets a thin slice of the pie.

    It’s hard to imagine in specific terms a radical full-bore socialist alternative that isn’t just a more intensive version of traditional progressive politics.

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    1. All good thoughts on the topic. I especially agree with your summary of the difference between Republicans and Democrats: “So Sanders and the DNC are mutually keeping each other at arm’s length, whereas so far Trump and the RNC remain allied. It seems likely that that’s because the radical wing of the Republican Party has built such a strong presence top to bottom…In contrast the radical wing of the Democratic Party hasn’t made many inroads except in sporadic races…”

      1) I think this makes it all the more plausible that moderate Republicans might jump ship to a new centrist Democrat Party. They are under the thump of Trump and his wing as long as Trump is alive, literally in his debt because he can fund raise. If he isn’t President, he can still Twitter to Cult Trump, and they will respond, with a vengeance. Or moderate Republicans might have something else up their sleeve. I can’t imagine that they’ll sit back and be satisfied with letting the far-right control the party indefinitely.

      2) Or maybe moderate Dems and moderate Republicans are just willing to wait it out until their more radical base elements flame out.

      3) Or yet again, maybe the old guard on both sides is too tired to mix things up. After the election, Garrison Keillor wrote an op-ed (NYT, maybe?) describing himself as an old liberal who was pretty much done with politics. He was going to do more gardening.

      4) Given the uncertainty of party politics, my personal response is to double down on the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). They are not a political party but rather an activist organization. Activists are the agents of change, as we’ve seen first-hand with evangelicals and the Tea Party and Cult Trump. Usually that means playing the long-game and waiting decades for your ideas and vision to start to grow from seed into a healthy plant that can bear fruit (to borrow the biblical metaphor). In the current political climate, though, there’s more opportunity for short-term results.

      5) Young people resonate with socialism, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we might actually see a socialist movement rise again. Bernie could still run as a Green in 2020 or even as an Independent, which seems more his style. Yet again, he might say “fuck it” and jump into the DNC primary again in 2020. Or he might tap a younger democratic socialist.

      Many possibilities. Lots of fodder for fictional speculation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What in the world is your definition of an evangelical!?! If a person believes the Bible and tries to live it, there is NO WAY they can be associated with the KKK. I think you are out of touch with what’s going on in Bible believing churches.

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    1. Evangelicals are politically aligned with the KKK right now. Both groups overwhelmingly supported Trump, and both groups continue to support Trump. Without the KKK and Evangelicals backing him, Trump would still just be a man with a Twitter account.

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