The Wilderness | Issue .50 | 6 . 16. 2015 | Tweet
Something happened last month that mostly went unnoticed among rank-and-file politicos. The ground shifted underneath their feet, under the weight of a barrage of leaked email stories, foundation donation revelations and rehearsed campaign appearances. Hillary Clinton made her official announcement for President and embarked on a hard-of-hearing tour across America that went so well that the only thing people remember from it is her turning up on grainy security camera footage looking more like a fugitive on “America’s Most Wanted” than the all-but-assured Democrat nominee.
Having stumbled badly through four weeks of media trouble stemming from revelations that her family’s foundation pretty much operates as an international crime syndicate, Hillary suffered added insult when her planned re-emergence was dampened out by an energetic announcement from a candidate nearly half her age in Marco Rubio. This past weekend, Team Grandma thus stabbed “F10” on their campaign system reboot and quickly sought to reinstall Hillary 7.0 as an attempt to tap into the waning strand of rampant populism that occupies her party’s hearts and minds. The reaction has been tepid at best.
There’s a poorly kept secret in the media and on the progressive Left heading into 2016: They don’t want Hillary Clinton.
Thanks to two devastating midterm losses (courtesy Barack Obama’s mulish incompetence plus Obamacare) the Democratic party’s bench has not only been depleted, it has been completely eviscerated. Politics is not unlike sports franchises: local talent is discovered and crafted into state parties, which are like farm teams. Those local talents are fostered and brought up into the Big Show where they either become stars or are out of the league in a couple years. Barack Obama’s legacy won’t be defined by unilateral executive orders, failed trade deals, or a failing healthcare law. It will be defined as the eight years the Democrats lost a generation of talent, and with it their soul. They find themselves stocked with one Chief and no Indians. Okay, one Indian.
As the aged, entitled nominee-to-be Hillary Clinton stealthed her way from one fast-food restaurant to the next, her former campaign manager (and current groundhog-murdering mayor of New York City) Bill de Blasio, flanked by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, led a party/messaging revolt at a press conference announcing a new socialist progressive contract with America. It was a staged revolt against their own party’s failings in 2014 and a warning to a rudderless administration and Presidential front runner: No matter who their party’s nominee is in 2016, they are not going away quietly.
Hillary Clinton has been put on notice. And Barack Obama, as of last Friday and the defeat of his fast track TPA trade legislation, has been put on leave.
De Blasio’s unprovoked act of marching upon DC to lay out his own progressive agenda before a sitting lame duck President of his own party ahead on an all-but-assured Democratic nominee’s official announcement, has sent a clear message that neither Obama or Clinton have a stranglehold on the party or its base anymore. This was a coup. Alongside stand-up comedian Bernie Sanders tossing his Ushanka into the 2016 ring (mostly just to amuse himself — more on that later), and Elizabeth Warren leading the Democrat charge against Obama on fast tracking trade negotiations, it is genuinely a stunning turn of events for a party wrestling with its own schizophrenia.
In a lame duck election year, it’s the Presidential nominee that sets the agenda for a party going forward, not the mayor of New York City or a junior senator from Massachusetts or a crazy old man mostly ranting at whatever fire hydrant will listen to him. The party almost always rallies around the message of their nominee.
This time is different, and it has the potential to be an electoral Hindenburg for a throwback candidate attempting to lead a party that is further to the left than she has ever known. This is no longer Barack Obama’s party and they are in open revolt against Hillary Clinton making it hers.
But for all their squawking and protesting and rioting, for better, and most likely worse, the progressive base in this country knows they are stuck with a hawkish oligarch of yesteryear who represents everything their party currently has risen up in the streets against. “George Bush in a pantsuit” as one Media Matters researcher referred to her.
Hillary Clinton cannot just suddenly discover her inner Alinsky because Barack Obama beat her with it eight long years ago. All that would do is remind people that Hillary Clinton isn’t Barack Obama, to say the very least. That won’t make an already skeptical base forget the 25 years she spent in the public eye opposing everything from illegal immigrants to LGBT marriage. Barack Obama pulled this off because a sense of wonder and the unknown surrounded him. It doesn’t work with recycled has-been parking in handicapped spaces and citing Beatles lyrics.
It could have worked with Elizabeth Warren–and ultimately that’s the kidney-stone-in-the-urethra pain the far left knows they have to live with. Once again, Hillary Clinton finds herself on the precipice of history, only to know in her heart that she’s not her party’s first choice. Much like her marriage, she’s simply the one they’ll settle for. Warren passed up on an almost assured chance at the White House simply by weighing the terms and limits of her power. After 4-8 years Warren is out of the White House and out of power. She knows she will sit in the Senate for the next 20 years with the possibility to steer the financial banking system into the size of ditch she sees fit, either by twisting the arm of a sitting President from her party or by marshaling the swarms of Occupy leftovers to protest one from the GOP. It was the smart play on her part, even if it costs her party the White House.
Her TPA power play against a President who has never faced opposition in his own party was a bold shot across the bow. And it worked (No one reads the features on this site for in-depth details of confusing trade agreements. You’re better off watching Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace or reading Scott Lincicome’s good explainer at Cato Institute.) Democrats rallied around her special brand of librarian, Church Lady authoritarianism and effectively told Barack Obama to start making plans to move out of the White House. However she runs the risk of becoming isolated for the duration of a Madame Hillary Presidency. The Clintons are notoriously known for not sharing the spotlight, nor tolerating any insurrection.
De Blasio, on the other hand, certainly has bigger ideas for his political career in mind but he may not even see a second term as New York City’s mayor. I’m not entirely sure how a grondhog murdering mayor of a city where he barely pulls 11% of only 17% of their city’s participating voters, somehow takes this as a mandate to inflict a communist agenda on an entire country, but he’s trying to do it. It took just a little over a year and a half for the public-sector unions (including police and firefighter unions) to sour on the Comrade of Gracie Mansion (a mansion he walled off from the public), thanks to his pronounced silence as law-enforcement officers were executed in patrol cars while he allowed protesters to shriek at restaurant patrons and private business owners. His overall approval rating in his home city isn’t mobilizing much of anyone other than Al Sharpton’s shock troops and needless to say they aren’t falling over themselves to vote for a 70 year old white woman.
De Blasio shunning his electoral base in the city–to say nothing of its outraged Marmota monax community–has turned his attention to Iowa, California Washington DC, and everywhere it seems but the one place he was elected to govern. New Yorkers don’t take being ignored very well. Hillary and the Party Boy did America’s most prominent Sandinista a favor by seating themselves front-and-center behind him for his inauguration photo op at City Hall in downtown Manhattan. De Blasio returned the favor by refusing to endorse her as of yet and by not participating in her campaign’s not-a-relaunch launch at Roosevelt Island this past weekend. This snub along with the constant “mean girl” shade being thrown her way by Elizabeth Warren are emblematic of the problems that threaten to sink Hillary’s bid for history. The far left doesn’t have another Barack Obama waiting in the wings but they also know Hillary can’t be elected without them.
As if the combined headache of Comrade de Blasio and Chief Warren aren’t enough to give a 67 year old Hillary another stroke, enter Bernie Sanders riding a wrecking ball like a Bolshevik Miley Cyrus, organizing a cult of Facebook and social media followers and winning over the Juice Vox Mafia with each additional promise of more free shit. No matter what kind of lunacy spills from Bernie’s mouth, they will entertain him right up until the last dog is hung, and then vomit forth a dozen more-in-sorrow-than-anger think-pieces about how “Bernie was right but could never win thanks to the Koch Bros” when he exits the race.
With Bill de Blasio and Bernie Sanders nipping at her heels like a pair of New Jersey mobster housewife’s chihuahuas, Hillary Clinton might make a stab at Warren’s populist anti-Wall Street rhetoric, but she still has to account for her largest Wall Street donors in a debate. Hillary will attempt to take a bite out of hedge fund managers to get an approving nod from Barack Obama, while not upsetting the Goldman Sachs apple cart too terribly much. What happens though, when in a debate a Democratic rival reminds her that her son-in-law happens to be a member of this hated class? She will no doubt insert talking points about the Koch Brothers to appease the Hollywood millionaire activist class…and then she will promptly be reminded by this fellow Democrat of bundles of cash for arms and uranium deals that were secured by her Foundation and approved by her State Department
If the far Left’s strategy is to mobilize the working poor to paint the GOP as a party of the rich, they can’t possibly want fewer poor people or (more importantly) fewer poor voters. But then that’s the problem with their special brand of faux-populism. Neither Bernie Sanders nor any other far left socialist is going to get elected nationally by railing against the benefits of wealth whilst simultaneously promising to create more wealth. It would be an act of voluntary extinction, like a velociraptor speaking out in favor of the K-T meteor. Their only hope, rather, is to cross their fingers and hope that Hillary Clinton, the richest candidate in the 2016 race, can fool enough Beyonce fans. By claiming their policies help people out of poverty and into some sort of managed wealth, they are by their own definition creating people not likely to vote for them. This is the monster that Barack Obama has created and that Bernie Sanders reveals every time he steps up to a microphone.
Sanders says the things Barack Obama knows he couldn’t say to get elected President. But then again, Bernie Sanders isn’t trying to get elected.
Sanders’ goal is to not win the Presidency. He knows it. The media–no matter how much they pretend to take him seriously–knows it. The rabid anti-capitalist Left knows it. But they’ll go along with the joke for as long as it takes for Hillary to get the message. She won’t win without them, and the terrifying reality is that they are stuck with a candidate that they know might not be able to pull it off.
Matt Taibbi confirms all of this in Rolling Stone:
“The irony is, Hillary probably wouldn’t have such high negatives right now if the public didn’t have decades of exactly this sort of Clintonian face-switching and poll-chasing to stew over.
In fact, in a just world, this latest decision to overcome voter indifference by putting on an Elizabeth Warren mask through the primary season would be rewarded by even stiffer slides down the polls. Even hardcore progressives would probably respect her more if she stuck to the eely faux-center the Third Way Dems have been staking out since the late Eighties.
But if history is any guide, that won’t happen. The guess here is that Hillary and Democrats have run the numbers. They’ll shake a few fists at The Man on the campaign trail, just enough to sneak by on poll day. Then, once in office, they’ll revert back in office to being the shameless policy sellouts they’ve always been.“
Despite all of these electoral theatrics to keep the focus off of Hillary’s disastrous track record as a candidate, appointed, and elected official, it all reduces to a very simple proposition in the end. The Democrats have two choices in front of them: either pack up the Occupy tents and follow Hillary Clinton back to a big government moderate middle where hawkish foreign policy and Wall Street will reign and any legacy of Barack Obama is dispensed as an electoral anomaly.
The other choice is almost impossible one: drag her to the outer-rim of the fringe Left at a time when polls already show she has tenuously poor authenticity with voters, and as the country is gravitating away from shrieking nanny-statism and the growing incompetence of an over burdensome federal government. For ever step she takes towards far left progressive enlightenment, she leaves at least five that trace back to her record as anything but a populist warrior, as was witnessed when she sided with Warren on Obama’s downed TPA legislation, legislation she supported 45 times as his Secretary of State.
Even the New York Times has reservations about this strategy. When this burden falls upon a lone Bernie Sanders (I – Lunatic) to threaten Clinton with, the Democrats know they have a serious problem. Network media won’t give this game away. They will entertain Sanders as long as there is a microphone in his face and he’s spouting warmed-over journalist hero John Reed Ten Days That Shook The World-style socialist talking points.
But make no mistake: within the year, the Democratic party has to make this choice. The entire purpose of populist happy media propping up Sanders is to get Clinton to start regurgitating his words, sell it like Warren and do it all of this while hosting Saturday Night Live alongside Bill de Blasio (sans murdered groundhog) with musical guest Katy Perry using some kind of Lt. Smash indoctrination.
It’s all theater of the absurd, kabuki done to prevent the far left/socialist wing of the Democrat Party from dying an angry painful death in January 2017. They’ve had a hell of a party at the expense of the slowest economic recovery since World War II for the past seven years, and they know it’s coming to an end. It will not be a clean seperation and will not be pretty. Protests will ramp up like a demon soul trying to cling onto a young body in the presence of an exorcist. Network media will continue to glorify racial strife (which is actually class strife in disguise) and the last remnants of the militant Occupy wing will make it known loud and clear, like a three-year-old throwing a hissy fit in a grocery store aisle, they will be heard in one last final primal scream.
No matter who is elected.