Sadly, we think he’s correct: Our years of effort with respect to Matthew Yglesias have finally begun to pay off.
At Vox, he tells a discouraging tale. Sadly, we think he’s on target.
Yglessias tells a gloomy tale about the Democratic Party’s big-picture prospects. Gloomily but correctly, Yglesias starts as shown below.
We include his gloomy headline:
YGLESIAS (10/19/15): Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble.Let us quickly add one point. If you still think that the “megalomaniacal reality TV star” in question can’t get elected next November, you may be living inside that “wrongheaded atmosphere of complacence” Yglesias skillfully names.
The Democratic Party is in much greater peril than its leaders or supporters recognize, and it has no plan to save itself.
Yes, Barack Obama is taking a victory lap in his seventh year in office. Yes, Republicans can’t find a credible candidate to so much as run for speaker of the House. Yes, the GOP presidential field is led by a megalomaniacal reality TV star. All this is true—but rather than lay the foundation for enduring Democratic success, all it’s done is breed a wrongheaded atmosphere of complacence.
In our view, Candidate Trump could beat Candidate Clinton next year. To us, that possibility became even clearer when we watched excerpts from Clinton’s speech in Alabama on the Maddow Show last night.
People who watch Maddow clown each night may not understand that fact. But then, the strongest point in Yglesias’ piece in his constant return to the liberal world’s “atmosphere of complacence.”
Yglesias stresses the weakness of Democratic performance and prospects on the state and local levels. We’ll suggest that you read his piece to review the discouraging numbers.
As Yglesias notes, liberals and Democrats have built-in disadvantages at all levels of American governance, except perhaps for the race for the White House. But so what? We keep telling ourselves pretty stories even about these obstacles.
No, Virginia! In the main, the built-in Republican tilt in the House isn’t caused by gerrymandering, which our side engages in too. But so what! If you read the Yglesias piece, you will see him return, again and again, to our tribe's fatal flaw:
YGLESIAS: In some ways, the Democrats' biggest disadvantage is simply their current smugness. A party that controls such a small share of elected offices around the country is a party that should be engaged in vigorous debate about how to improve its fortunes. Much of the current Republican infighting—embarrassing and counterproductive though it may be at times—reflects the healthy impulse to recognize that the party lacks the full measure of power that it desires, and needs to argue about optimal strategies for obtaining it.“If a black guy with the middle name Hussein can win the White House, then anything is possible?”
On the Democratic side, the personal political success of Barack Obama has created an atmosphere of complacency and overconfidence. If a black guy with the middle name Hussein can win the White House, the thinking seems to be, then anything is possible. Consequently, the party is marching steadily to the left on its issue positions…even though existing issue positions seem incompatible with a House majority or any meaningful degree of success in state politics.
We’d better hope that’s true! Candidate Clinton may end up running with a guy named Castro! Our party can’t even catch a break when it comes to our leaders’ names!
At any rate, there was Yglesias, speaking about complacency, overconfidence and smugness again. These are the qualities we’ll be discussing all week in our own primary posts, which will largely concern our tribe’s fealty to the twin gods, Snark and Snide.
Snark and Snide—and their trusted pseudo-liberal companion, Moral Overconfidence.
By the end of his gloomy piece, Yglesias is gloomily picturing the liberal tribe hitting rock bottom. Dude is riding with Cassandra by the end of his piece:
YGLESIAS (continuing directly): Whatever you make of this agenda substantively, there's no way to actually enact it without first achieving a considerably higher level of down-ballot electoral success than Democrats currently enjoy.Our tribe is complacent, smug and uncomprehending, Yglesias just keeps saying. “That will change if and when the GOP seizes the White House, too, and Democrats bottom out.”
But instead of a dialogue about how to obtain that success, Democrats are currently engaged in a slightly bizarre bidding war between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to see whether Congress in 2017 will reject a legislative agenda that is somewhat to the left of Obama's or drastically to its left. The differences between them are real, of course, and at least somewhat important.
But the much more significant question facing the party isn't about the White House—it's about all the other offices in the land. The problem is that control of the presidency seems to have blinded progressive activists to the possibility of even having an argument about what to do about all of them. That will change if and when the GOP seizes the White House, too, and Democrats bottom out. But the truly striking thing is how close to bottom the party is already and how blind it seems to be to that fact.
Candidate Trump could win the White House next year. We’re not predicting that he will. But with every week that passes, it becomes more clear that he could.
In the meantime, if you doubt the claim that our self-adoring tribe is dumb and smug and complacent, just watch the ludicrous Maddow some night. As you drown in the silly campaign trivia, listen to Snark and Snide roar!
A tribe which tolerates clowning like hers is a tribe on its way to the bottom. On the brighter side, the money’s good for the tribe’s big stars.
The money’s good all the way down.
Isquith on Yglesias: Isquith thinks he’s on target too. To ruminate, just click here.