Jerry Bader reports on this weekend’s Democratic Party convention in Middleton and another convention:
It is almost poetic that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s convention this weekend falls just two days before the 5th anniversary of the failed recall attempt of Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin Democrats have been so marginalized since that crushing defeat that infighting among Republicans on transportation generates most of the drama in Madison these days. Wisconsin has turned deep red since June 5, 2012 and Democrats will be deciding whether to stay the course with Chairperson Martha Laning or pick someone from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. The outcome of that vote likely will determine the significance of another liberal gathering three weeks later in Steven’s Point. That’s where “Our Wisconsin Revolution (OWR)” will be holding its “Founding Convention.”
OWR is essentially stitched together remnants of Bernie Sander’s Wisconsin presidential campaign: its interim organizing committee was comprised of former Sanders delegates. An OWR outline platform draft obtained by Media Trackers leaves little doubt that the Founding Convention will be very much informed by Sanders’ socialist platform. The entire platform is standard liberal fare, but several items reveal a far left socialist agenda:
- Show leadership in combatting (sic) global warming by making Wisconsin energy production fully carbon-free by 2030. This would mean a 100% transition to carbon-free energy production in 13 years.
- Transition to “free” (publicly funded) tuition for all UW and Technical colleges and universities (Yet, just last week Democrats decried continuing a tuition freeze as harmful to students.)
- Recognize housing as a human right and adopt and implement a plan to realize that right for all residents (free housing for all to go with free tuition?).
- … work toward single-payer public system of health care in Wisconsin and nationally.
- explore the feasibility of a state basic income guarantee; and establish a state-sponsored retirement plan for private workers. This idea isn’t new but is gaining traction in liberal thinking. As explained at “The Economist in 2013, an unconditional or “standard” basic income would replace existing anti-poverty (welfare programs). And it appears it would fulfill some liberal Utopian dreams:
Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, believes a UBI provides “the real freedom to pursue the realization of one’s conception of the good life”, whether that means surfing and living small, or trading stocks and living large. Erik Olin Wright, a Marxist sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, posits that a basic income could even hasten a march toward communism (without the messiness of violent revolution) by raising the bargaining power of the proletariat. If you don’t need your job to survive, Mr Wright reasons, you can command a higher salary and better benefits from your boss. Ms Lowrey points out the opposite is also a possibility: McDonald’s has little pressure to pay you a living wage if the government is sending you supplemental cheques every month.
- Widen the sales tax base to include all goods and services outside food, education, and healthcare; make it progressive by raising it steeply on purchases more than twice the median state family income. So, big ticket items would carry a steep sales tax in Wisconsin. It’s hard to imagine auto dealerships on the Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan borders not loving that idea.
Apparently if you’re a Democrat and you have won basically three elections (U.S. Senate in 2012 and secretary of state in 2010 and 2014) vs. all your losses since Scott Walker became governor, the key to overcoming failure is to do what doesn’t work harder.
The alternative, apparently, is to stand for nothing, as Victor Davis Hanson reports:
Is there a Democratic-party alternative to President Trump’s tax plan?
Is there a Democratic congressional proposal to stop the hemorrhaging and impending implosion of Obamacare?
Do Democrats have some sort of comprehensive package to help the economy grow or to deal with the recent doubling of the national debt?
What is the Democratic alternative to Trump’s apparent foreign policy of pragmatic realism or his neglect of entitlement reform?
The answers are all no, because for all practical purposes there is no Democratic party as we have traditionally known it.
It is no longer a liberal (a word now replaced by progressive) political alternative to conservatism as much as a cultural movement fueled by coastal elites, academics, celebrities — and the media. Its interests are not so much political as cultural. True to its new media identity, the Democratic party is against anything Trump rather than being for something. It seeks to shock and entertain in the fashion of a red-carpet celebrity or MSNBC talking head rather than to legislate or formulate policy as a political party.
The result is that in traditional governing terms, the Democratic party has recalibrated itself into near political impotency. Barack Obama ended the centrism of Bill Clinton and with it the prior Democratic comeback (thanks to the third-party candidacies of Ross Perot) from the disastrous McGovern, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis years.
Indeed, Obama’s celebrity-media/identity-politics/community-organizing model brought him more new voters than the old voters he lost — but so far, his new political paradigm has not proven transferable to any other national candidates. No wonder that over the eight years of the Obama administration, Democrats lost the majority of the state legislatures, the governorships, local offices, the Senate, the House, the presidency, and, probably, the Supreme Court.
Most Democratic leaders are dynastic and geriatric: Bernie Sanders (75), Hillary Clinton (69), Elizabeth Warren (67), Diane Feinstein (83), Nancy Pelosi (77), Steny Hoyer (77), or Jerry Brown (79). They are hardly spry enough to dance to the party’s new “Pajama Boy” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” music.
Yet those not past their mid-sixties appear unstable, such as the potty-mouth DNC head Tom Perez and his assistant, the volatile congressman Keith Ellison. Or they still believe it is 2008 and they can rally yet again around “hope and change” and Vero possumus. That politicos are talking about an amateurish Chelsea Clinton as a serious future candidate reflects the impoverishment of Democratic political talent.
In such a void, a traditionally progressive media, including the entertainment industry, stepped in and fused with what is left of the Democratic party to form the new opposition to the Republican party and in particular to Donald Trump. The aim now is to alter culture through the courts and pressure groups rather than to make laws.
A disinterested observer would have seen that the Democratic antidote to Trumpism was a return to Bill Clinton’s focus on working-class, pocketbook issues — the issues that might win back swing voters in the proverbially blue-wall states. But that won’t happen. The Democratic party is now in the hands of Obama progressives, who in turn follow the lead of the hip, cool, and outraged media that have no responsibility other than to appear hip and cool and outraged. Trump apparently understands that and so focuses most of his invective not against a tired Nancy Pelosi or the shrill Chuck Schumer but at the major networks, mainstream newspapers, and Hollywood celebrities — the heart now of the progressive fusion party.
Think the Republicans are messed up because of their pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions? Think the state GOP has a problem because Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos don’t see eye to eye on things? The GOP, both national and state, is far, far better off than their Democratic opposition.