On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP


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7 comments on “On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP

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  1. Your last comment is the most useful of the thread.

    If we’re talking about the left’s tactics, I think we need to go back as least to the D primary. My view then, and still now, is that, among other things BLM organizers (too narrow a label, but they were the most visible) used the Sander’s campaign as a testing and proving ground for disruption and confrontation. One of the skills I think they learned in all of that was the need for discipline among both the organizers and the rank and file.

    They were not natural allies of Bernie’s, but he seemed willing to be co-opted for the organizational boost.

    The Women’s March was impressive in both its organization and discipline, allowing it to make effective use of an organic “moment”.

    Afterwards much opining focused on the idea that while it was impressive, they needed to develop an affirmative program to go forward.

    While true, this was trivial. The program has been under development now for months, mostly behind the scenes. The contest for DNC chair is something of a proxy fight not only between the 2 wings of the D’s Sanders and Clinton, but also the 2 wings of the Sanders coalition – Sanders and his young supporters, who initially faulted him for focusing too much on economics and not enough on intersectionality.

    • That’s all interesting and relevant, and good point at the end about the fights within the fights.

      However, I see the discussion as taking place more in the vein of traditional questions: Do we attack/defy/destroy? or do we coax/persuade/assuage/etc.? Are “they” enemies or simply opponents/adversaries? Connected to the “it’s better for all of us if he succeeds” vs “of course, I hope he fails” discussion.

      My point at the end was that in different ways and in different contexts, much depending on definitions and assumptions (not least about what is really under anyone’s control anyway), different answers may make sense, and for a range of different reasons.

      • Sure, that’s a fair characterization of the discussion outlined in the tweets. My point is that the information we have about “the left” is already considerably concrete and operationalized. Already a broad front has emerged that incorporates both the disrupt and persuade styles. Indeed, I think there is a sophisticated analysis/effort to use both poles according to how events unfold.

        The question then is the sustainability of all this. But I think it’s important to see that there exists a portion of the left that has moved considerably beyond Occupy’s inability to figure out how to get the drummers from drumming all night and pissing off people living in the area who might otherwise be sympathetic.

        My point is that there is a continuity of individuals who have been developing analysis and tactics in a focused way, testing them as they go along. The discussion among them is past just being general or theoretical/

        • They will still have to cope with a version of the same conflict at every stage and level. Sooner or later, or constantly, any political actor has to decide when to stop demanding, and start negotiating – or know if “demanding” is really just asking, really a negotiating tactic, or if negotiating is really just demanding nicely. Even in case of victory in whatever particular battle, the victors must decide whether to conduct themselves toward the vanquished with magnanimity or with wrath. Or they may seek to apply measured amounts of each, but only at the risk of dilution and reduced potency.

          Other versions of the same conflict are re-produced in every other question: whether it’s good for intelligence officials to leak against this president, or whether it threatens to undermine the liberal-democratic concept; whether people of good conscience should work for this administration in key posts, or boycott it, and boycott the people who make the other choice; and so on.

          The initial question had to do with how a “resistance” or, a different thing, an “opposition,” should speak to rank and file members of the other coalition, and specifically whether “liberals” should or can emulate the Tea Party.

          Maybe it’s worth noting that for all of the zeal of individual Tea Partiers and for all of the partisan invective against liberals or the Left from the Tea Party and vicinity, the Tea Party did initially seize on patriotic symbols and, from the name down, put them front and center. The TP wrapped itself in the flag and invoked the Holy Founders. An American patriot could disagree with particular Tea Party positions, but couldn’t disagree with the idea of the Tea Party, of everyday citizens defying unjust government. Today’s Left has problems presenting itself in a similar way, since so many voluble and articulate members of its coalition seem to operate under the motto “Reduce America’s Singular Evil” rather than any variation on “Make America Great (Again).”

          Obama was different, at least at his peak. He wanted to “do both,” too, but in key ways he was unable to do either very effectively. Trying to do both from a position of less than overwhelming strength can sometimes lead to doing neither effectively – as in “leading from behind” – which might have been an appealing notion in one particular context, but which turned into not really leading and becoming unable to lead at all. HRC suffered the same problem. Wanting things both ways also projects diffidence and unclarity.

          Which is the reverse side of the other tactical problem for liberals or progressives that I noted in the original twitter discussion: They want to do things with government. They want an adult government doing good things intelligently. Brutal, take-no-prisoners partisanship, incendiary rhetoric, and 50-50 polarization don’t serve the purposes of the Party of Government.

          • I dunno, I think a lot of people looked at the TPers not as patriotic Americans but as bat shit crazy. Their difficulty in finding non-bsc candidates for various Senate races, and their success in getting bsc candidates elected in safe R seats, illustrate this.

            But yeah, certain dynamics are present in all politics. I guess I’m pointing to a certain fluidity in the situation where past definitions and dynamics have less sway than in the past, and my hope/contention that enough of the new new left (maybe a whole new nomenclature is needed, the post contemporary Left perhaps ie PC Left) has been developing in fits and starts a workable approach.

  2. Was the Republican success in 2010 because of the Tea Party, or was it *despite* the Tea Party. That’s still something of an open question in my mind.

    There were at least two US Senate races (Delaware and Nevada) where nominating Tea party candidates shifted a probable GOP hold/pick up (respectively) to a Dem win.

    In 2014, the Tea Party ardor had cooled substantially, the candidates were much more ‘generic Republican’ and the GOP picked up the Senate, and poached some governor’s mansions in blue states.

    The above is why I disagreed with Elizabeth. The dynamics of how the ‘radicals’ and the ‘moderates’ interact to effect social change is interesting and complicated and can’t be answered in a tweet. (and I don’t have a fully formed answer, other than to say you need the ‘moderates’ on board to make social or political change stick)

    • …or was the Republican success in 2010 of the sort that simply never happens without some fog and friction along the way? An upsurge in enthusiasm on one side – or discovery of the resources in a desperate situation – or cornered rats fighting fiercely, etc., etc. – is bound to take multiple forms. Some people will go too far or some unwanted Witches will be swept up in the tornado, and maybe get crushed beneath the house when it finally lands. Just how it goes.

      So you don’t really completely disagree with Elizabeth, seems to me.

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Noted & Quoted

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