Democrats double down on America’s division

There is no shame in a political defeat per se, not even in two. 

Some say the measure of one’s character comes in the reaction to a defeat. So let it be with Democrats. 


Now in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, perhaps the greatest political defeat in modern history, a loss so profound and so complete — whose effects have not been seen since the 1920s and could well reverberate for generations — one would expect the Democratic Party to step back and take stock, and begin soul-searching for the hard lessons of truth and accountability.

Yet, as Democrats continue to come to terms with their anger and denial, it is now clear what their response to defeat will be: to fight Republicans “tooth and nail” every step of the way.

First came the deluge. 

As the Democratic world convulsed on Nov. 8, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Pompeo’s Cairo speech more ‘back to the future’ than break with past MORE supporters and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE haters took to the streets in protest, some violent, to rend their clothes and tear their hair and beseech a benevolent god to make sense of it all. 

At universities, exams were cancelled in deference to political shock; “safe spaces” were created to shelter the traumatized; “coping events” were organized to provide balm for the fearful; and all political activism was monitored for microaggressions and politically incorrect speech.

Next came the politicians.          

In their first blush of grief, many Democratic leaders expressed a conciliatory tone towards President-elect Trump and offered welcoming winds of cooperation on issues of mutual concern—infrastructure, tax loopholes, trade laws, and improving the lives of the middle class. The buddy-buddy tone of bi-partisanship lasted less than a week. 

Then came the threats and promises of political paybacks: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned, “they (Republicans) will rue the day” they repeal Obamacare, and “on issues where our values are at stake, where the president goes in a divisive direction . . . we'll go against him and with everything we've got.”

A pugnacious Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) also served notice, “. . . if they try to privatize Medicare or cut taxes for the wealthy, you know, we are going to have a Youngstown street fight in the Capitol.”

At an angry organizational meeting of 57 progressive groups only days after the election, Jim Messina, Obama’s former campaign manager, bluntly called for an unforgiving, give-no-quarter, “Push back at every level” policy towards Trump and his administration. 

Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour MORE, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE all promised to “strongly oppose” Trump on any measures that would promote his extreme policy proposals. 

Even President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles If Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump ‘Family Guy’ says it will stop making jokes about gay people MORE, who openly campaigned for Hillary Clinton and denounced Donald Trump, said he would continue to voice his opinions as a private citizen. So much for the unwritten rule and accepted protocol of former presidents speaking with respect and restraint about current presidents.

How did it come to this?

Given the high-wire stakes, the motley cast of characters, and the simmering mood of a discontented country, the presidential election of 2016 was a powder keg from the start. 

After eight years of tearing at the fabric of our society, doubting the wisdom of our institutions, and questioning who we are as a people, the battle for the soul of America had a reached critical mass.

But to Democrats, inside the eye of this political tempest there was always one constant, one fixed star, Hillary Clinton.

For years America and the world had been primed by her efficient and powerful Democratic Machine—charting her ascension, touting her accomplishments, and propping up her saintliness like a pope-to-be— preparing us for the sacred white smoke to pour from the White House chimney. America was poised to coronate its first queen. Hillary Clinton would assume that which had been ordained for her. 

But then, somehow, everything went horribly wrong.

Yes, there was the surprising appeal and popularity of Bernie Sanders who like a Jewish Santa Claus hoisted young Americans (and many doe-eyed Baby Boomers) onto his Democratic Socialist lap and promised them the moon, the sky, and entitlement heaven.

And then, too, Trump’s unprecedented mudslinging and attack-dog campaign style unsettled Clinton’s mojo, but through it all she was able to hold her own and managed to remain the frontrunner until the very end.

No, what did Clinton in was as fundamental as breathing air — philosophy. 

Hillary didn’t have one. 

Or rather, she had one, but she never knew what it was. But it didn’t matter.

Obama had already told her what her convictions were. All she had to do was repeat them, or better yet, read them off a teleprompter. It was his legacy she was running on, not hers.    

To Obama, the plan was simple.

Hillary Clinton represented the next logical step in his promise of “hope and change.” Her presidency would be the opportunity to provide more of the framework, more context, and more rationale for his collectivist agenda and its sense of life for America. 

After two terms of dutifully planting his Leftist seeds, he could now wave his progressive banner and proclaim, “We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hillary wasn’t up to the task. Even with the script, the plan, and the machine, she was simply unable to enunciate a cogent, workable philosophy that the average Joe could understand and hold up to the light and say: “Yeah, this is me—this is the America I know.” 

In retrospect one wonders whether Hillary Clinton,  Barack Obama, or the Democratic Party ever understood that what they were promoting all along was an ideology whose principles, nature, and moral meaning were philosophically bankrupt and antithetical to everything capitalism and America stands for.

Now, after the carnage, in an America where we no longer seem to hold things in common, where every act is political and every word polarizing, perhaps President-elect Trump can make things right by taking a page out of the progressive playbook. 

To assuage the Left’s national grief and to boost their self-esteem, he can order participation trophies to every Democrat who voted — so we can all be winners.

La Valle a freelance writer in New York is a regular political contributor to The Hill.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.