by Gaius Publius
A couple of election notes from Corey Robin, plus a bonus note from me:
Blaming the Left
This is something we all anticipate:
As the polls tighten, there’s a lot of left-blaming and left-fretting among Clinton supporters. That fits with a long-standing psycho-political syndrome among liberals of attacking the left—a syndrome in which the left often plays its own not so healthy part.
But there’s little basis for that syndrome in reality, at least in this election. Not that this particular reality has much impact on the self-styled reality-based community. But it’s important to register that reality nonetheless[.]
Robin then quotes Matt Grossman (via the Vox link above):
“The problems Hillary Clinton is having do not have to do with the left,” says Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State, in an interview…. ”There is not much of any evidence of a drop-off in support for her from the left-wing of the ideological spectrum.”….Like Jill Stein or not, the drag she has been on Clinton basically amounts to a rounding error.
Will that stop them? Unlikely. Old dogs, old tricks and all.
“It's your fault if she loses. You. Personally.”
This next one is a variant of the first, but a little nastier:
A story Jacob Levy reported on Facebook today leaves me with this embittered thought.
Liberals in the media, academia, political circles, and on social media who support Clinton act as if your one vote — out of the more than 100 million cast — determines the fate of the republic. If you vote for Stein (whether in a safe state or not), you are personally responsible for Trump’s inauguration.
These voices are often the very same people who, when challenged about Clinton’s voting record in the Senate or Obama’s policies, will say: Clinton was only one voice in a Senate, out of…a hundred voices. Obama was one lonely man arrayed against…three veto points.
That kind of reprimand (“it's your fault if she loses”) sounds way too close to “You're insufficiently loyal, soldier,” but maybe that's just me.
Robin continues to ponder the discrepancy between society's lack of forgiveness for us “littles” and its automatic forgiveness of the bigs:
Somewhere in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith has a passage about how we identify with the trials and travails of a king, giving him all of our sympathy and understanding, yet are so repelled by the tribulations of the lowly that we can scarce understand what they’re going through.
The difficulties and challenges of the most elite sectors of the political class are acutely felt by liberal journalists and commentators. And the calculations and concerns of the lowly citizen? Fuhgettaboutit.
Those two paragraphs remind me of the horror people always feel when they consider the French Revolution in its bloody early days … without once seeing the centuries of misery, blood and death, by thousands upon thousands of humans, generation after generation, in Paris and in France, endured by the class of people who eventually rose up and fought back against it.
People, watching Marie Antoinette beheaded, call the Revolution a disgrace without once considering the nameless many who lived lives worse than hers, and died every day as a result — the “unhonored dead” who “gave to misery” all they had, and died not forgotten, but never even known.
Republicans and the Latin@ Vote
Robin spends much of the piece pondering the Latin@vote. One of his points is this:
…I’ve been hearing this line of bullshit for years: once the Republicans start appealing to Latin@s, all will be well. People forget the ballyhoo around the fact that George W. Bush could say hello in Spanish. That was going to change everything forever….
There are two reasons Latin@s haven’t become a reliable part of the Republican coalition.
The first, of course, is the racism and revanchism of a considerable part of the GOP base. Just look how they took to Bush’s compassionate conservatism. …
The second reason, though, is this: what GOP fantasists imagine creating is a multicultural, identity-friendly party of capital. The problem is we already have such a party. Who needs two?
That last paragraph (did you catch what he said?) sets the next part up nicely.
“Regimes tend to collapse of their own weight”
A much more general point, even more general than Robin himself makes of it:
I once asked Steve Skowronek—who’s probably one of the four or five most fertile minds of the last quarter-century’s political science—what kind of role opposition parties play in toppling partisan/presidential regimes. What role did the 1932 Democrats play in overthrowing the Gilded Age regime? What role did the 1980 Republicans playing in overthrowing the New Deal regime?
Not much, he said, rather bleakly.
Regimes tend to collapse of their own weight, driven to destruction by the long-term consequences of the actions of their own elites and activists. While they ultimately need an opposition to topple them, the only reason the opposition can do that is that these regimes are already tipping over on their own [emphasis mine].
There's a lot to consider here. I think Robin errs in applying this to Republicans only instead of to the whole regime. After all, we made the same point recently, echoing Matt Taibbi. Here's Taibbi's version of this idea (emphasis mine):
The first symptom of a degraded aristocracy is a lack of capable candidates for the throne. After years of indulgence, ruling families become frail, inbred and isolated, with no one but mystics, impotents and children to put forward as kings. Think of Nikolai Romanov reading fortunes as his troops starved at the front. Weak princes lead to popular uprisings
And again, this point doesn't just apply to the Republican and their clown car of “impotents and children.” This year we chose between of the two most unpopular candidates in modern history for president.
Bonus: How Early Will the Press Call the Presidential Race Over?
Near the end of the Democratic primary, in a apparent attempt to finish off the Sanders campaign, the AP called the contest over even before the California primary was held — before, in other words, all pledged delegates were decided. How early will the press call this contest decided?
I know what Harry Reid would choose, but to wait three hours to be the first to name the new president … that's a heavy ask. Torn between two lovers, what will the media do?
Be sure to read the rest of Corey Robin's piece, especially points 9 and 10 about what the strong Latin@ vote means for the rest of us going forward, and how, via the Culinary Workers Union in a right to work state, they've gotten where they are.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis