Following my column six days ago, I realized that I neglected a crucial part of the dynamic I laid out between Republicans (who win best when they feel they are losing) and Democrats (who lose the most when they are winning). I spoke at great length about what it meant to win by losing and lose by winning, but I forgot to mention what happens after this power dynamic has been laid out, accepted, and cemented. So, consider this a follow-up where I think I figure out how this dynamic allows the Democrats to screw everything up, even when it seems like everything is going their way.
In short, Democrats don’t seem to understand the dynamic I mentioned six days ago. The Democratic party leadership has been in so deep with the technocratic, data-driven, young-urban-professional-fetish crowd for so long that, much like the economists who thought their figures and numbers were rock solid on the eve of the last crash, their dogma and orthodoxy goes unquestioned even in the face of clear and obvious logic. It is impossible, nay, unthinkable for their projections and their data to be incorrect, because they have the know-how and the Ivy League education and all the bells & whistles and the machine that goes “ping.” In this line of thinking, this austere, test-tube and sterile lab sort of thinking, the world will behave a certain way, has to behave a certain way, or else every single one of your methods won’t work, and your methods being proven correct and your own personal gratification comes before what’s actually good for the vast majority of people living in this country.
And so we get the now-infuriating staple of the Milquetoast Democrat: still holding on to the frayed, scorched remains of comity and lofty gentlemanliness in a world more polarized, vicious, and partisan than ever. In their minds, politicians have to act a certain way, because to act another way would be unseemly and would get you laughed straight out of the latest multi-million dollar soiree, don’t you know. As such, these Milquetoast Democrats cannot even conceive of a world as upside down as this one, where you win by losing and lose by winning. Our entire strategy is based on people behaving a certain way and, come hell or high water, that is the way we’re going to run our campaign. It doesn’t matter that people, that life exists in a hard, cruel and dirty world, and that people sometimes make decisions that are counter to their own best interests due to emotion or other human failings: in the mind of the Milquetoast Democrat, we all must simple transcend our failings until we reach the great bipartisan Nirvana of the Third Way.
This is how the Democrats, gifted with quite possibly the most chaotic, slipshod, and full-bore fascist administration in American history, still cannot seem to make hay. They cannot conceive of something so very unprofessional or unbecoming as winning by losing, and so they use the same sort of tactics and strategies that would have worked in a more civilized Congress of a more civilized time. But we do not live in a civilized time, we live in a time of a maniacal, fascist-leaning Republican party who can only succeed in their narrative if they are the put upon, the persecuted, the fighters for freedom and liberty and other nostrums made empty by decades of petty partisan bickering. They need to be seen as the losers, even as they occupy the White House, the House, the Senate, state governments and governorships. In fact, Republicans haven’t controlled this much of our country since 1928, and therein lies how their winning can and will ultimately be their catastrophic loss.
And so, now, we finally come to the main thrust of the article: how can the Democrats make the best of this situation that seems completely upside down? Well, in a world where Republicans win by losing… stop making them out to be losers. You are walking right into the trap by pointing out every flaw, every foible, every resignation and faux pas and gaffe. Let’s face it, you’re not going to convince anyone on the other side if you go around talking about how terrible Trump is; all that’s going to do is soothe the egos of others on your side.
Stop talking about how bad Trump is.
Let me repeat it for the cheap seats:
STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW BAD TRUMP IS
If you really want to beat Trump, you must acknowledge that he won. Trump’s brand of bargain-basement fascism is wholly dependent on feeling persecuted, in the minority, being the one fighting back. By making him own the mess, by insisting that they are in charge and that it’s their problem now and they have the task of governing, it will sap them of all of their anti-establishment power. When you make these grade-school bullies the ones who suddenly have to run the school, they collapse, as we have seen, but pointing out each time they stumble only puts more fuel on their fire of persecution. Stop talking about how terrible Trump is, start focusing on what he needs to do to be great, because we know he’ll never get there.
Senator Bernie Sanders understands this: even before the inauguration, he has been running a very simple, and very effective , strategy: hold Trump accountable for what he said during the campaign. Use his own words to take the fire out of his actions. If he said he’s not going to cut Social Security, hold him accountable. If he said he’s going to gut regulation of the food we eat, hold him accountable when people start getting sick. To simply play the elitist card and call the idiot an idiot will do no good when there is an entire army of your so-called “idiots” who are waiting for the time when they can rise up against those who rightfully insulted them, and therein lies their strength.
We are not dealing with politics as usual: we are dealing with a deeply flawed, yet dangerous Republican party whose strength comes from being put in the corner like a rabid dog. It needs to be our duty then, as opposition, to let that dog run free five miles out of town in a cornfield until it eventually succumbs to the disease inside it. It is sick and knows only when it is being threatened, so don’t threaten it. Hold it accountable for its own disease, don’t cure it, don’t give in to what it wants, and it will burn itself out. It may seem counter intuitive to give a fool like Trump what he wants and concede that he is President, but putting the Republicans in a position where people are counting on them is a sure fire way to watch them self-destruct, as long as we hold them accountable when they lie, cheat or steal.
So stop with the outrage. Stop being besmirched and shocked and appalled. You knew this was going to be horrible, so stop complaining that it is horrible so they can paint you as some elitist trying to keep them down. They are in charge now, and they have to deal with that. Stop fretting about how terrible it is and start holding them accountable for how terrible they are. To just throw up your hands and say “it’s terrible” is an abdication of responsibility, but to say “you did something terrible and now all of America knows it” will break their back. An emotional appeal to the horribleness, a breathless “won’t someone think of the children” screed will only strike those on the fence as partisan hackery; the key is a genuine, level-headed approach that relies on their own statements, their own promises, and their own policies’ failures to uphold them.
Stop clutching your pearls and gasping at the latest horrible thing you knew would come out of a cabal of genuinely horrible people: expect it, understand it, and like a judoka turn it back around on them to expose their hypocrisy, their sociopathy, and their fascism. Carping and harping will only make people roll their eyes, we need to make it evident in their words. The Democrats need to learn how to turn a loss into a win, by properly cultivating the fire of an angry majority, or we’ll be looking at 8 years of Trump.