December 5, 2015

Who will un-cuck the Left?

Comparisons of Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump are misleading because, although the underdog Democrat's platform is the most populist among those allowed onto the debate stage, he's still hamstrung by commitments to all sorts of phony ideological distraction issues that alienate regular people -- climate change, Black Lives Matter, gun control, abortion rights, and anything having to do with faggots.

He has begun invoking FDR to defend identifying as a socialist, but Roosevelt had no time for these feel-good social and cultural topics. To his credit, Sanders devotes more focus on widening inequality, non-hawkish military policies, and direct election of campaign donors.

And yet if he wants higher wages for working people and narrowing inequality, he should copy his hero and emphasize minimal immigration (supply of labor up, wages down) and a strong labor union movement.

He wants to skip over all the hard work of the early 20th century -- tightening up the borders, deporting foreigners, and building a strong union movement -- and skip right to the prosperous and egalitarian Midcentury. It's no wonder his campaign does best with naive college kids desperate to square the circle of worshiping political correctness while returning to the 1950s.

The last time that populism won big-time, it began under the Republicans, with Teddy Roosevelt pursuing Progressivist reforms -- in the old, political and economic sense, not a frivolous social and cultural sense. Trump will clearly play the role of the latter-day Teddy Roosevelt. But who will follow him to become the next FDR?

It probably wouldn't happen for a few more election cycles, and he would probably be a generation younger than the initiator of populism. So, he would be a Gen X-er (probably a later one, since they're more liberal), and would have begun his political career as a populist insurgent against an entrenched party elite in a major city. FDR started a bit early at the age of 28 as State Senator from New York, but with the lifespan being more stretched out these days, maybe his reincarnation will have gotten his start a little later. Might as well just quote Wikipedia on his political origins:

Taking his seat on January 1, 1911, Roosevelt immediately became the leader of a group of "Insurgents" who opposed the bossism of the Tammany machine dominating the state Democratic Party. The U.S. Senate election, which began with the Democratic caucus on January 16, 1911, was deadlocked by the struggle of the two factions for 74 days, as the new legislator endured what a biographer later described as "the full might of Tammany" behind its choice, William F. Sheehan. (Popular election of US Senators did not occur until after a constitutional amendment.)

On March 31 compromise candidate James A. O'Gorman was elected, giving Roosevelt national exposure and some experience in political tactics and intrigue; one Tammany leader warned that Roosevelt should be eliminated immediately, before he disrupted Democrats as much as his cousin disrupted the Republicans. [Does Trump have any Gen X cousins out there?] Roosevelt soon became a popular figure among New York Democrats, though he had not as yet become an eloquent speaker. News articles and cartoons began depicting "the second coming of a Roosevelt" that sent "cold shivers down the spine of Tammany".

A reminder about Tammany Hall for those who've forgotten their American history class:

After 1854, the [Tammany] Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of [New York City's] rapidly expanding immigrant community, which functioned as its base of political capital. The business community appreciated its readiness, at moderate cost, to cut through red tape and legislative mazes to facilitate rapid economic growth, The Tammany Hall ward boss or ward heeler – "wards" were the city's smallest political units from 1786 to 1938 – served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage.

Insurgent challenges elite of a corrupt party machine whose base is hordes of immigrants -- doesn't exactly ring a bell for any Democrat right now, but then the election where FDR first began to up-end business as usual, in 1910, came one cycle after Teddy Roosevelt had already left his second term in office, paving the way for populism as a winning platform. So the latter-day FDR may not even get his foot in the door until the end of the second Trump administration.

Keep your eyes peeled in 10 years -- an insurgent Democrat just might say, The hell with pandering to immigrant hordes and corrupt party elites, and set himself along the path toward becoming the architect of the New New Deal.


  1. Ignoring party wishes and skipping to populism has proved very hard since campaign financing is now big business. Part of the reason Trump has been able to do it is self-funding.

    So, I say keep an eye on Mark Cuban on the democrat side. He's eyeing the Trump campaign very closely, no doubt. If Trump proves you can skip minor political climbing and skip right to running for president, if you are a successful billionaire, it might set precedent for a guy like Cuban.

    He's a generational cusp guy and won't exactly be young by the time the office opens next, assuming a two term prez, but he might be the best chance the Dems have right now. You can't be dependent on donor money and be a populist, because donors don't want populism.

    Cuban does however, have the notable handicap of being a jew.

  2. It seems identity politics has completely conquered the left, to the extent it is hard to imagine populism returning to the democrat party. Populism really requires some kind of public-spirited sentiment, a feeling that we're all in this together, which is exactly the opposite of what identity politics is all about. GOP elitist Grover Norquist wrote a book about how the left is essentially a confederation of disparate identity politics groups vs. the right which "just wants to be left alone." Amazingly he apparently doesn't see how this libertarian ethos leads to the identity politics coalition completely victorious and destroying his libertarian hugbox.

  3. Random Dude on the Internet12/5/15, 7:01 PM

    If Trump ends up winning, it could definitely open the doors for more self funded multimillionaire and billionaire campaigners on both sides of the aisle.

    My prediction is that most of these people are the current Silicon Valley-made billionaires and multimillionaires of this current tech bubble. Once the bubble pops, they abscond with their money, hide out just long enough, and then in the 2020s (or their 30s or early 40s), start running for elected offices.

    For example, Mark Zuckerberg runs and wins the California Governor's election in 2022 and makes a Presidential run in 2028. Likely won't be an FDR by any means but it's possible. The other Silicon Valley billionaires (Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca, etc.) can run for various high level political positions in their home states.

  4. Zuckerberg couldn't be any less populist, with his desire to replace Americans with foreigners so that native wages will plummet while his wealth shoots into another galaxy.

    In general, there aren't any populists Out West, where the mood is more libertarian. Populism implies a degree of beyond-limited government that can steward the society, culture, and demographics of the people. Most libertarians hear "populism" and think "mob rule".

    Jews in particular are not populists, for the same fear of mob rule. Sanders may have the most populist platform *among the existing candidates*, but he doesn't want to homogenize the population. He's for amnesty.

    In fact, Sanders is more of a candidate for failed middle-class strivers than he is of the working class. Little emphasis on labor unions, heavy emphasis on free elite credential mills and "boo student loan debt". Just look again at his audience.

    Trump's economic speeches and policies are aimed at bringing back high-paying blue-collar jobs, and you can find camo ballcaps in his (diverse) audiences.

  5. "In fact, Sanders is more of a candidate for failed middle-class strivers than he is of the working class. Little emphasis on labor unions, heavy emphasis on free elite credential mills and "boo student loan debt". Just look again at his audience."

    Somebody predicted how the Sanders campaign would end up in 2016 and 2020 long before it happened.


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