“I don’t belong to any organized political party … I’m a Democrat”

May 8th, 2021 | By | Category: USA Today

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK — RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO. MAY 8, 2021. My treasured daily mail from Rachel Maddow a few days ago included a well-earned slight on the still-all-too-alive top Republican in the US Senate.

It read : “This is his vision. It is not a secret. With Biden in the Oval Office, McConnell has a guiding principle: Failure is the goal. ‘Democrats can and should learn from his candor: Republicans aren’t interested in governing’ … Mitch McConnell keeps telling anyone who’ll listen that he prioritizes partisanship over governing. It’s time to believe him.”

I altogether agree with this as far as it goes. It is pointless to place any kind of faith in M. Mitch McConnell and any Republican enterprise he controls. But to me the problem Democrats face at the moment goes deeper as well — on at least two fronts.

“The sun is warm, the coffee is hot, sitting in my backyard early in the morning,” Michael Seward, May 2021.

As a very practical matter, and unlike FDR and LBJ (as the great Ron Brownstein and others wisely point out), the Biden Democrats have only a slender majority in the House (which may slim down even further under the new census numbers?), and a precarious parity at best in the Senate (Senator Manchin etc). And there’s only so much White House Executive Orders can do.

Somewhat deeper in the political culture, it could be argued, there’s also the problem that, from the standpoint of the last-stand Anglo-American conservative movement which Senator McConnell and a growing mainstream of his political party are apparently embracing, his anti-governing and alas ultimately also anti-future-America strategy (now as in the preceding age of Obama) makes all too much sense.

Dupont Gallery, I. Michael Seward, May 2021.

At least smart conservatives who find this thinking attractive (still symbolized at this point in the cunning passages of American political history by the more-crazed-and-destructive-than-usual post-presidential Donald Trump) do understand the real world. In their prayerful and other night thoughts, they know that demography and technology (to say nothing of democracy) are all against the survival of their kind of America, as some new-world Anglo Protestant homeland.

Their main strategy is just to delay the inevitable crash of their now obsolete America as long as possible. And for this purpose uncompromising obstruction of such things as the presidencies of Barack Obama and Joe Biden has a lot of even “enlightenment-rational” political logic.

Or, whatever else (and with a nice historical irony in the Hollywood movie tradition of the great Apache chief Geronimo, eg), the 21st century Trump (and now McConnell too) Republican defenders of the old (as even de Tocqueville put it) “Anglo American” frontier of the 19th century are going to go down fighting to the end — and that will somehow let them die in peace.

Geronimo, 1886. Library of Congress, Washington DC (reproduction no. LC-USZ62-36613).

You could say that Mitch McConnell’s 28-year marriage to Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States at eight years old with her wealthy parents, absolves him of any serious white supremacist or Anglo Protestant bias. And this sounds right in one narrow sense. But he dropped this shield — arguably more effective in the age of President Obama — when he joined the apparent majority of Republican politicians if by no means voters in buying into Donald Trump’s big lie on the 2020 election.

You could say as well that, strictly speaking, “McConnell” itself is a Scots-Irish rather than an Anglo name (such as my own). In the very end, however, it is what I think can quite rightly be called an Anglo-American economic theory that locks in the McConnell obstructionist strategy. On this view of the human universe, it doesn’t matter if the country is governed badly, because what is great about the America being defended to the very end is that it allegedly somehow operates independently of any government (except too often toxic local police forces and maybe second-amendment militia too?).

What is an appropriate progressive Democratic strategy in the face of all this? I certainly don’t know of course. But it strikes me that more aggressive and persistent organizing is almost certainly part of it. And it may also be that Stacy Abrams in Georgia has been a pioneer. In any case I remember with sorrow as well as some progressive human amusement the legendary Will Rogers’ confession: “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

To bring things right up to date, for any Democrats who may be at all disturbed by the latest US employment numbers, our numbers in Canada were terrible too (as many of the 62 federal and state/provincial governments in the USA and Canada struggle again with the latest COVID-19 depredations in some populous places). And in the absolute limiting case there is the vast wisdom of Binyamin Appelbaum, who writes “editorials about business and economics’ for The New York Times : “The measure of a healthy economy is not the availability of a limitless supply of people willing to work for $2.13 an hour plus tips.”

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