Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chronicle of a Death of a Party Foretold

When Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced, less than five months after he (like Nancy Pelosi long before) had become politically irrelevant, that he would retire when his current U.S. Senate term expires in January 2017, Republicans were happy to gloat over his decision not to seek re-election (overlooking the fact that the voters of Nevada elected him to the Senate five times, with Reid in some cases fending off ferocious Republican challenges).  Allison Moore, the Republican National Committee's press secretary, put out this rather nasty statement:
"With the Democrat Party already in disarray, a national committee struggling to raise money, and a scandal-plagued presidential front-runner, it's no surprise Harry Reid realized he was about to suffer a humiliating defeat and decided to step aside."
Well, the Daily Kos noted that Reid still has 22 months in office and, after only three months of leading a minority Democratic caucus, he's kept Senate Democrats together and stymied the Republican majority on  Department of Homeland Security funding and anti-abortion language in human-trafficking legislation.  So yes, Reid is still effective as the Senate Democratic leader, but he's still the Seante minority leader.  And none of Reid's effectiveness can conceal the problems implicit in the RNC's statement.  
Leaving aside the Republicans' use of the term "Democrat Party" as a sign of obvious disrespect (they're called the "Democratic Party"), and leaving aside also the fact that Reid is a septuagenarian, five-term senator who would have quit under any circumstances by virtue of his age and his career longevity, let's parse Allison Moore's press release, shall we?  She claims the Democrats are in "disarray."  I agree.  A united Senate caucus can't compensate for the fact that the party has been hollowed out by the disastrous results of the 2014 midterm elections, with key Democratic figures gone from the scene and all the momentum and rising-star power on the Republicans' side.  She says the Democratic National Committee is "struggling to raise money."  That's a fact.  The GOP outraised the Democrats in February, and whether or not the Democrats are getting any money from small donors, they're not getting money from me; I stopped giving money to the Democrats after the Republican tsunami . . . of 1994.  Anyway, with President Obama nearing the end of his second term and with only one major accomplishment to his credit - a Byzantine health care law about to be scuttled by either the budget or the Supreme Court - not too many people in the progressive base may be inclined to donate money to the party that pretends to speak for them.  Moore also said that Hillary Clinton is a "scandal-plagued presidential front-runner."  I agree.  She's plagued not by an e-mail scandal but by the scandal of the fact that she apparently thinks that being a former First Lady makes her entitled to the Democratic presidential nomination, just as Jeb Bush thinks he's entitled to the Republican presidential nomination by being the son and the younger brother of two former Presidents.  Not to mention the scandal of the fact that she's a squishy centrist who has apparently been temporizing on the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Keystone XL pipeline.  
So Reid may still be tough as nails, but it's a safe bet that when he and Obama both go out together in 2017, there isn't going to be much of a Democratic Party left.  If Hillary keeps carrying on the way she's been carrying on, she will not be elected President in 2016 and she'll being an already emaciated party down with her.  It will be a defeat that will be impossible to recover from, and the Democratic Party will finally go the way of the Whigs as I have insisted.  The Whigs were divided over slavery and were united around nothing in particular; the Democrats are divided over economic policy and between foreign policy hawks and doves, and the only thing that unites them is . . . Hillary.  And their dissolution will be a fitting end for a party that lost its way years ago.
Please note that I never mentioned the unfortunate domestic accident that left Reid so bruised and battered when he returned to Washington after the winter holidays. 

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