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Will the far Left give Republicans a victory in November?



John Dean, whose Tweets I enjoy, had this to say yesterday: “Democrats should focus full energy on winning Congress and ending Trump’s presidency. No internal wars, please!”

He included a link to a Politico article that reported on how Progressive insurgents are launching challenges to Democratic members of Congress in some of the country’s bluest districts, sparked by deep frustration with the party establishment and anti-Trump anger.”

Living in Oakland, California—one of the most “progressive” areas of the country—I have witnessed up close and personally the depth of this “frustration with the party establishment” on the part of left-leaning liberals. When Mr. Dean urges “No internal wars, please!” I completely agree, for I’ve seen the destructiveness of internal factions on the left.

I had a neighbor, a nice man from Maine (I’ll call him Scott) who moved to the Bay Area to work in high tech. He’s since returned to his native state, but he lived next door to me for a couple years, and—as he was usually between gigs—he would frequently be hanging out in front of his building, smoking clove cigarettes.

We’d get into political-philosophical conversations that often turned fractious. He was much further to the left than I am, and had reached a point where he was so fed up with Democrats for, in his opinion, selling out that he said he was voting for Trump. He loathed Hillary Clinton as only a Hillary-hater can. When I suggested that he had been the unwilling, unconscious victim of 25 years of anti-Hillary propaganda from the Republican/Fox “News” attack machine, he exploded in anger, and accused me of disrespecting his own ability to think. In turn, he accused me of being a closet conservative.

It was crazy. We both were on the same page: in favor of universal healthcare, much higher taxes on the rich (including the estate tax), breaking up gigantic banks, eliminating Christian influence in governance, protections for women and minorities, strong environmental protections, a kinder attitude toward immigrants, and so on. And yet there we were, almost at blows with each other. That’s exactly the kind of “internal wars” Mr. Dean is warning us about.

I asked Scott to explain to me just why his anger at the Democratic Party resulted in him voting for Trump, a man whose vulgarity and dangerousness he was well aware of, just as he was aware of the vapidity and greed of Republicans. “Because,” Scott said, “we need to tear the entire fucking system down. Just burn it down and start over, and Trump is the guy who will destroy it.”

We both agreed on that, too, although it’s weird how we saw it from our respective corners. I saw the coming Trump destruction in a fearful way: a man whose utter unfitness for office and fascist inclinations threatened everything my America stands for. From my point of view, that Trump had to be resisted. Scott saw the destructiveness, but in his opinion the American cancer was so advanced that severe amputations were required to the body politic; in that sense, Scott thought that Trump might actually have a beneficial impact.

I don’t know if Scott really voted for Trump—I hope that, at the last minute, his conscience stepped in and prevented him from doing so. But four million Americans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, with the result that we got Donald J. Trump as president. After the election, when I saw Scott again, I asked him if he were happy with the result. Yes, he replied. He hated everything Trmup stood for, but he was glad that “that bitch, Hillary Clinton,” hadn’t been elected.

How liberals are going to overcome the deep-seated negativity and resentment of the far left is going to be the challenge of this election season. Everybody agrees on the importance of regaining Democratic control of the House and Senate. Most people I know agree on the desirability of a Democratic House starting impeachment proceedings against Trump. But, as I said, Oakland is a microcosm of the far left in America, and I already detect fractures within the Democratic Party over issues ranging from homelessness and housing to taxes, policing, energy, affirmative action and schools. Republicans are aware of these fractures; their political operatives are skilled in exploiting them, to divide and conquer the enemy (Democrats). I hope everyone opposed to Trumpism will heed John Dean’s warning of “no internal wars,” but I fear that the far left may be so intransigent that they will hand over the 2018 elections to Republicans, the same way they did in 2016.

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