Headline: A left turn could be a dead end for the Democrats
Sub-headline: It is misleading to draw comparisons with the state of European centre-left parties
Unsurprisingly Mr. Ganesh takes the Party Line of the Clinton coterie, on the ‘Left’ represented by ‘Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an avowed “democratic socialist”.
‘ Donald Trump’s unwitting service to his country has been the transformation of the US left. Enemies of the “Washington consensus” now speak up for trade. Old relativists cherish facts. American leadership is recognised, however tardily, as indispensable to the world. It will not console his vanquished rival of 2016, but the first wave of counter-Trumpism has been decidedly Clintonian: a defence of the liberal centre, not a move to the orthodox left.
The presentation of Clinton and her fellow travelers as representative of a ‘Liberal Center’ is inspired not by fact, but by the imperative of propaganda. Mrs. Clinton represents the ‘Center’ of American political life: define this ‘Center’ as the alliance of the Neo-Cons and the Neo-Liberals. That is the actual political ‘Center’ without the ideological myopia that Mr. Ganesh presents to the reader. Call it as unconvincing as the headline and sub-headline of this essay! The threat is from a Left Wing Social Democrat!
Never fear the usual FT carefully framed ‘Anti-Left’ hysterics are just moments away for the patient reader:
This does not add up to leftist capture of the Democrats, yet. Middle-of-the-road candidates have prospered in other primaries and, for every enemy of ICE, the immigration and customs agency, there is a party elder to shout them down. But look at the trend. Fringe ideas are no longer fringe. Such an outlaw candidate in 2016, Bernie Sanders can seem pale in his politics next to the so-called Resistance to Mr Trump, and this is before confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh give focus to the movement. For the first time since the 1980s — before the New Democrats, before their hardening of the heart on crime and welfare — the left is a force.
‘Fringe ideas are no longer fringe.’ The utter failure of the Neo-Liberal swindle has brought back to life, in America, the New Deal spirit of FDR and his legislative ally Ferdinand Pecora! Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were/are the harbingers of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, except Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, has yet to be tested by the New Democrats . And it is christened as a ‘fringe’ by Mr. Ganesh. . Why would Mr. Ganesh demonstrate his ignorance of American political history so brazenly? The why of that eludes me. Perhaps because he writes for a British, and even for a European audience who have no knowledge of The New Deal?
The resort to Newton’s Third Law is diversionary at best, but is redolent of an Oxbridgers elite education: a calculated instance of intellectual snobbery or just an appeal to authority? The questions ramify. But the menace of Populism is an ever-present ‘threat’ to a failed Neo-Liberalism.
The mystery is why anyone expects a better result this time. It is easy to fall for a political version of Newton’s third law: that someone as extreme as Mr Trump must create an equal and opposite reaction — that victory for the populist right implies latent electoral demand for the populist left. Even if this were true, it is unclear how a liberal line on immigration meets any standard of populism.
Skipping most of the remainder of Mr. Ganesh’s long apologia for the New Democrats/Neo-Liberals the reader is left with this paragraph about how the New Democrats view the failure of the European Center Left:
Democrats who scan the world know, and want to avoid, the ordeal of the European centre-left, squeezed as it is between true socialists and the jingoist right. But the US is not Europe. It does not have Italian levels of unemployment. It does not have Britain’s recent experience of fiscal cuts. It does not have the Marxist pedigree of France. Unlike Germany, its voters cannot count on the right to guard the welfare state as part of an immemorial consensus. These local particulars have worked against social democrats in these countries, who are either never left enough or too easy to take for granted.
The Clinton coterie are defined, not by their judgement of the Europe’s failed ‘Center Left’ , but by their political opportunism. The Schumer/Pelosi leadership of the Party are yet to confront the fact that Clinton didn’t campaign in the three states, that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College
Ganesh’s summation of the quandaries of the political present:
The question is not whether the US could do with a proper party of the left. Given its inequalities, perhaps it could. The question is whether it wants one. You have to be looking very hard to see evidence that it does. It is craven to urge moderation on the president’s opponents while he stretches basic norms until they twang. Immoderation, however, could gift him a second term.
In sum , the political triumph of the ‘Left’ in the Democratic Party will usher in a second term for Trump! Moderation, in the form of the New Democrats, is according to Ganesh, the answer. Clinton is even considering a run in 2020! What is so compelling is the utter ignorance that Ganesh demonstrates of American political history: politicians like Eugene V. Debs, Robert M. La Follette, Norman Thomas, Henry Wallace , Eugene McCarthy , Benjamin Spock, Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders remain unmentioned, in Mr.Ganesh’s long apologetic for the Clinton coterie. Even Ross Perot made a contribution to a changed political climate in America. These politicians, win or lose, were the harbingers of ‘change’ that Ganesh and his employers inveigh against.
The fact that Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy for the governorship of New York, in opposition to the sclerotic New Democrat Andrew Mark Cuomo, reveals Mr. Ganesh’s essay as an exercise in Anti-Left Hysteria with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as its central bad actor.