This is the fight Democrats want, but I’m not sure it’s really the fight they need
The concept of chaos as a political tactic has been a frequent topic here.
I first explored it on February 9, 2009, with regard to Obama’s opening weeks of his presidency. I focused on one of the most influential books — in an odd way — I read as a teenager, Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book.
The post was “Steal This Country”:
As an early teen, I was fascinated with Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book.” The book, by the 60’s radical Yippie, was a guide to using the capitalist system to destroy the capitalist system. Hoffman gave advice on how to cheat various institutions, such as the post office (e.g., mail an envelope to yourself without a stamp, with the return address of the person you want it to go to, and the post office will send it “back” to the returnee for free) all with the goal of disrupting civil society. For someone growing up in a nice suburb, this was mind-blowing stuff.
The introduction to Steal This Book lays out the philosophy of how to destroy the system from within by attacking those who benefit from capitalism (the “rich”) to give to all others by creating chaos:
Community within our Nation, chaos in theirs; that is the message of SURVIVE!
More recently, in late January 2016, during the Republican primaries, I observed Chaos as revolutionary tactic – Donald Trump and Abbie Hoffman:
Enough has been written about how Donald Trump is breaking or rewriting or ignoring all the rules. Or operating in 3 dimensions while everyone else is operating in 2 dimensions.
I see something in Trump, though, that is very familiar to me. It’s the concept of creating chaos in your opponent’s house as a revolutionary tactic. Or to put it another way, being a disrupter.
The now deceased Abbie Hoffman and Trump seemingly have little in common. While Hoffman rejected capitalism Trump embraces it.
Yet they both employed the same tactic. Hoffman tried to create chaos in the economic system, but never really succeeded. Trump has succeeded in creating utter chaos in everyone else’s house (Republican Party, Fox News, other candidates, basically anyone who crosses his path).
That’s only half the equation, though. It’s not just enough to create chaos in others. The second part is to create community within your own house. Hoffman never was good at that; in business Trump has been good at building his own house.
Trump brought that ability to create chaos in his opponents but community with his own, to the general election, and now to the first two weeks of his presidency.
The nomination of Neil Gorsuch is a perfect example of “community within our nation, chaos in theirs”.
This was a home run for conservatives. Even many Never Trumpers are praising it. It’s a thing of beauty, and the rollout was Yuge.
But it has created chaos in Trump’s opponents. There have been many high profile liberal lawyers and commenters who have praised the selection, even if they are still bitter over the Republican refusal to give Merrick Garland a vote during Obama’s last year. While many leading Democratic politicians have open the floodgates of verbal hell on Gorsuch, it’s going to be a hard sell to the public. And it risks a real schism in the Democratic Party — the base is out for blood, the more mature political class recognizes that catering to the base on Gorsuch could backfire by pushing the party too far left.
Ever since the election, party leaders have been debating: “Did we lose because we were too far to the left and we had too small a tent, or did we lose because we are too mainstream and didn’t energize the base?” Schiff asked.
“We are obviously having that debate, but there’s a whole new element, which is the reaction to the Trump administration that makes this different in kind, certainly different in intensity, than I think we’ve ever seen after an election,” he said.
“The more radical the administration is, the more radicalized our base becomes, which just feeds the Breitbart crowd, and who knows where that ends.”
Where that ends is a Democratic Party so radicalized that it become non-functional as a political opposition. The radicalization of the Democratic Party is playing right into Trump’s hands — Americans don’t like it when people burn the flag and bash capitalism, but that is now the face of the Democratic base. The more they riot, the more they disrupt, the more they act out their anger and frustrations, the better for Trump.
I explored this phenomenon, how the Gorsuch nomination has boxed in the Democratic Party into a destructive path, in two interviews today.
This morning I appeared on the Tony Katz radio show:
It really boxes the Democratic Senators in, because their base is going crazy….
This is the worst of all possible worlds for Democrats because Trump nominated somebody with impeccable credentials – somebody who’s even being praised on his credentials by some liberals. I think the former Obama Solicitor General has even praised (Gorsuch) So, this is just a brilliant pick on so many levels….
In the afternoon, I appeared on The Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV:
It’s a homerun at multiple levels … He should be Scalia 2.0, which is the terminology a lot of the leftist critiques are using …. Politically it’s an even more brilliant move, because the Democrats are absolutely itching for a fight on this first nomination, and Donald Trump picked somebody who has impeccable credentials, who is getting praise even from liberal law professors. This is the fight Democrats want, but I’m not sure it’s really the fight they need …. So at multiple levels this was a brilliant choice.
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