By Matt Taibbi
This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion.
The classic example was James Hohmann’s piece in the Washington Post, titled, “Primary wins show Hillary Clinton needs the left less than pro-Sanders liberals think.”
Hohmann’s thesis was that the “scope and scale” of Clinton’s wins Tuesday night meant mainstream Democrats could now safely return to their traditional We won, screw you posture of “minor concessions” toward the “liberal base.”
Continue reading: Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie
Commentary by The Secular Jurist: In their typically short-sided view, the Democratic Party establishment might be justified in going full centrist (i.e. “screw… the ‘liberal base'”) this election year because they got lucky and are facing an extremely divisive opponent in Donald Trump (see: Fresh Analysis of the new American electorate puts the 2016 Election into clearer focus). In the long-run, however, such disregard for progressivism and the mass of young Americans who advocate it is precisely the kind of attitude which has so profoundly alienated them from the democratic process – to which Taibbi noted in his editorial:
But to read the papers in the last two days is to imagine that we didn’t just spend a year witnessing the growth of a massive grassroots movement fueled by loathing of the party establishment, with some correspondingly severe numerical contractions in the turnout department (though she won, for instance, Clinton received 30 percent fewer votes in California this year versus 2008, and 13 percent fewer in New Jersey).
The twin insurgencies of Trump and Sanders this year were equally a blistering referendum on Beltway politics. But the major-party leaders and the media mouthpieces they hang out with can’t see this, because of what that friend of mine talked about over a decade ago: Washington culture is too far up its own backside to see much of anything at all.
Furthermore, this alienation which has manifest itself in declining voter turnout and civic participation is disproportionately impacting the Democratic Party at every political level (except the White House) as evidenced by the disastrous elections of 2010 and 2014. As long as Republicans continue to run extremist candidates like Trump, the Democrats can probably afford to be the party of status quo establishment centrism. If and when the GOP wakes up, that Democratic strategy will immediately become untenable.