Batman in all things

No enemies to the right

If you keep an eye on the deeper, darker reaches of the political blogosphere, you will have noticed a certain phrase making the rounds: No enemies to the right. Indeed, I would put the single unifying belief of the many groups called “alt-right” as the following: self-policing and following the old political norms will only lead to defeat; the left will never follow the same rules, so it’s time to treat them the same way they treat us.

Looking over recent election results, it’s hard to argue. Trump did a thousand things that all the conventional wisdom thought disqualifying. He still won. And those deep, dark reaches I just mentioned are the only ones who saw it coming.

But consider the other side of all this: the complete collapse of the Democratic party. If Hillary had not thought herself so above the law that she completely ignored basic security rules, if her inner circle had not also included a man who feels compelled to send weiner pictures to anything over the age of 15, if Hillary’s staff had at least been self-disciplined enough to keep aforementioned classified information off of aforementioned Weiner’s computer such that both investigations didn’t intersect and bring themselves back up right before the election, if the Democratic party itself had been willing to let their voters pick the nominee instead of conspiring to sink Sanders, if the press had not conspired with them, if, failing all that, Podesta had the wherewithal not to fall for the same phishing emails all of us get regularly and subsequently expose the entire charade, if Hillary did not have a history of covering for her husband’s harassment of women (a history that includes credible accusations of rape!) which hamstrung her when attacking Trump’s boorishness, if the policies pushed by Democrats when they held all branches had actually worked as promised, if any Democratic politician with a snowball’s chance (sorry, that was never Bernie) had the courage (or even just ambition!) to throw their hat into the ring instead of meekly standing aside for Hillary, if any of those pieces had not fallen into place, we might well be talking about how it is impossible for Republicans to ever again win at the national level.

Those are the fruits of “no enemies to the left”: a party so riddled with corruption and incompetence that, when presented with a task of “don’t do the wrong thing at every single turn,” they failed.

They’re still digging, too. After losing in just about every race, the remaining Democratic Representative chose to reelect exactly the same leadership which had overseen their reduction from a historic majority to a historic minority. The average age of the House Democratic leadership is 76 (for comparison House Republican leadership ranges from 41-51). Reform will come not from within, but simply once the current leadership dies of old age. Virtue, once lost, is difficult to regain.

If we follow the same path of having no standards we will hold ourselves to, we will end up in the same place. Tread carefully.

4 thoughts on “No enemies to the right”

  1. (The real trick, of course, is to hold each other to our values, instead of internalizing the values of the left and then holding ourselves to those.)

  2. I think you’re misunderstanding the point here. The point is “no enemies *to* the right”, not “no enemies in the right”. The left always does “no enemies to the left”. Moderate leftists don’t criticize extreme leftists, no matter how crazy. But extreme leftists do criticize moderate leftists, because those are to their right.

    In your example, surely Hillary was to the right of Sanders. Which is why Sanders’ people (the extreme left) hate Hillary (which is to their right) with quite the same passion they hate Trump. But Hillary supporters don’t hate Sanders; he’s just a bit over the top, but his heart is in the right place, etc. That Hillary stole the primary from Sanders was just plain old crony corruption, and if anything a violation of “no enemies to the left”.

    This is basically about having a good cop and a bad cop. The extreme left and right are the bad cop. The not so extreme are good cops. As a good cop you can’t criticize the bad cop, or you lost that edge. It doesn’t mean you must agree with him, but it you criticize the bad cop in public the whole thing fails. The bad cop though can and must criticize you; else he can’t really be a bad cop. Lenin understood this and the left has flourished thanks to it.

    1. Didn’t expect Mr Bloody Shovel himself to take notice of me, but thanks for the reply!

      I think this is a very difficult tightrope to walk. I like the good cop/bad cop analogy, but isn’t a key part of that the fact that being the bad cop is an act? If the bad cop actually started feeding the suspect into a woodchipper, the good cop would need to intervene. Actual cop partners know each other in real life, so can be pretty confident that the other won’t go too far, but for us in the political realm, we better know what our limits are, because somebody is going to test them.

      I don’t want Lenin as a role model. The left did a great job at seizing power, yes. But all they were able to do with that power was destroy their own cultures and countries. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake, but the Right can’t do that and remain the Right. Our goal is to build; power can only ever be a means towards that. We need to get over our aversion to getting our hands dirty, but it is important to know what you’re fighting for.

      I mean, the total collapse of Democrats didn’t come about merely because of Trump’s amazing political skills. Something like that required a *lot* of internal rot. I think those holiness spirals were a major contributing cause.

  3. As an actual Democrat who occasionally drops in on this blog, I must politely disagree.

    “If Hillary had not thought herself so above the law that she completely ignored basic security rules” — in much the same way that two previous Secretaries of State had, yes. Lapse of judgment, sure. ‘Above the law’? According to a year-long investigation by two dozen FBI agents, no.

    “if her inner circle had not also included a man who feels compelled to send weiner pictures” — you mean, included a woman married to a man who feels compelled etc. Weiner himself was never part of the Clinton’s inner circle.

    “if Hillary’s staff had at least been self-disciplined enough to keep aforementioned classified information off of aforementioned Weiner’s computer” — Alas! There was no classified information on Weiner’s computer.

    “if the Democratic party itself had been willing to let their voters pick the nominee instead of conspiring to sink Sanders,” — Sanders won a clear minority of the primary vote, 13 million to Clinton’s 17 million and 23 contests to her 34. Of the ten largest states, he lost nine. He showed very limited appeal outside his core demographics — educated whites, rural whites, and the further left.

    As for the Democrats conspiring against him, two things. One, the Democratic elites actually have little direct influence over the primaries, other than through the superdelegate system. The campaigns do their own fundraising and develop their own lists and events and activist networks without any input from the DNC or any other Democratic organization. The ability of the party leadership to “conspire” a victory is actually pretty limited. And if you try to find actual anti-Sanders actions taken by the DNC, other than bitching about him in internal e-mails, it’s kinda difficult to come up with much.

    (The superdelegates, now, were a thing. But wooing Democatic superdelegates is its own strange black and retail art. Obama showed in 2008 that an insurgent candidate could persuade most superdelegates to stay on the sidelines through the primary season. Sanders, as far as we can tell, couldn’t be bothered. )

    Two, people constantly forget that *Sanders was not and is not a Democrat*. He’s an independent. And that’s not just a label. Sanders has run against Democrats in the past. His very first race was against a moderate Democrat who was Mayor of Burlington, VT. His next major race was a three-way for Governor of VT, where he ran against both the Democrat and the Republican. (He lost.) On 2005, when he ran for the Senate, he entered into a bargain with the Democratic leadership to caucus with the Dems if they’d agree not to fund a Democratic candidate in VT. They agreed, in part because the DNC Chair at the time was fellow Vermont progressive Howard Dean (remember him?). Dean and Sanders were close, and Dean personally preferred Sanders over any of the possible Democratic alternatives. This arrangement allowed Sanders to easily beat the Republican candidate in a two-way race. But it left lingering irritation, especially since Sanders continued to mostly ignore the party apparatus and regularly criticize his Democratic colleagues. His feud with DNC Chair Debbie Wassermann-Schulz is well known. What’s less well known is that he directed over a million dollars of funding towards a primary challenger against her. I heartily dislike Wassermann-Schulz and think she was an awful Chair, but you can’t do that and then act surprised when the DNC is strangely lukewarm towards you.

    Both Sanders supporters and Republicans have bought into this narrative of poor Bernie, conspired against by the party elite. Here’s another point of view: Bernie took favors from the Democratic party for years, including direct financing of his campaign and a refusal to back or fund Democrats against him, and then never paid them back. He rarely campaigned for other Congressional Democrats, completely ignored the state party apparatus in Vermont, didn’t share his fundraising lists, didn’t coordinate with the DNC or party leadership outside the Senate, and continued to regularly criticize and attack other Democrats, up to and including supporting primary challengers against them. Under the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising the party leadership was unenthusiastic about him.

    “if any Democratic politician with a snowball’s chance (sorry, that was never Bernie) had the courage (or even just ambition!) to throw their hat into the ring instead of meekly standing aside for Hillary,” — Webb and Chafee were no-hopers — their brief campaigns seem to have been inspired by spite and whimsy, respectively. But Martin O’Malley was a handsome, telegenic, experienced campaigner with a respectable record and good relations with the party leadership. He got utterly clobbered and didn’t make it out of Iowa. This strongly suggests that the the only plausible rival to Hillary was the one we got, viz., a protest/outsider candidate like Bernie.

    (Also, when you ask who else might have run, people tend to get squirmy. Joe Biden? He’ll be 75 this year, and as far as anyone can tell he just wasn’t interested.)

    Finally, “We need to get over our aversion to getting our hands dirty,” — okay, I’m sincerely curious. After this last campaign, how much dirtier do you want your hands to get?

    Doug M.

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