By Robert A. Vella
As America’s idealistic yet disgruntled progressives continue to jab barbs into the soft behind of the Democratic Party, the Hillary Clinton campaign must be asking:
Who needs the Left, anyway?
They might have a point. The 2016 presidential election is shaping up as one of the most bizarre in U.S. history with an angry anti-establishment mood gripping the country, fracturing partisan allegiances, and an uncertain electorate which may exhibit great volatility in their choices and in their turnout. Logically, such conditions should be quite disadvantageous to any centrist candidate looking to maintain the status quo. However, in this election, logic seems about as useful as the thin wispy white hair on Bernie Sanders’ head. Hillary’s intransigent centrism appears destined to prevail this year for the most improbable of reasons – Republicans are lining up to back her campaign.
Never before in my fifty years of observing American politics has a whole swath of establishment insiders from one political party come out in support of its rival party’s presidential candidate. Oh sure, there have been isolated cases of individual politicians who broke party lines on occasion, but nothing like this growing list of big-name Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton. It really makes one wonder what’s going on here. With Sanders’ determined and vigorous – though largely unsuccessful – challenge to neoliberal control over the Democratic Party, and with the GOP establishment torn over the nomination of nationalist firebrand Donald Trump, is America’s de facto two-party system finally breaking up? Has the new establishment-versus-populist dynamic superseded it? Should Hillary Clinton rightly be called a Repubocrat?
The lady Democrat responded to her Republican suitor, “I can live with your misguided paternalism, but those animal relatives of yours have got to go!”
Whatever else happens this year, the 2016 election appears destined to mark a watershed in American politics. The traditional labels of “Democrat” and “Republican” have lost much of their meaning. Both party establishments, once the bitterest of enemies, are now huddling together against a rising and turbulent tide of populist discontent. Will their makeshift seawalls hold?