Lots of screaming occurred during the Republican National Convention this past week. The Never Trump folks had a series of hissy fits as they tried in vain to derail the inevitable. Hampered by shenanigans during the Rules Committee, overruled on the floor of the convention by the chair, a group of folks saw no other option but to leave the floor mad and screaming. Though presumably they returned eventually.
Ted Cruz proved that he still doesn’t like Trump by refusing to endorse him during his prime time speech. And the convention booed him for his insolence.
So now we have Trump, officially, at last. One of the oddest turns at this oddest of conventions, where screaming and hatred ruled the day, was the sudden kumbaya gestures made towards the LGBTQ community. Peter Thiel, billionaire and destroyer of Gawker, proudly proclaimed himself gay, a Republican, and an American when he spoke at the convention. And folks cheered him on. Later, during his long-ass acceptance speech, Trump talked about supporting all Americans even LGBTQ ones. And he thanked folks for applauding him for bring up this much-maligned population. His sudden embrace of the LGBTQ community, rather than reassured me, creeped me out. I felt like Draco after Voldemort hugged him.
But don’t let the superficial overtures fool you. Trump is still Trump. Build the wall. Keep out the Muslims. Diss our allies. Bullhorn bigotry at its most bombastic. It’s what he didn’t say — how he would do any of the things he planned — that scares me the most.
Right, we’re stuck with him as a candidate. And learned folks from Michael Moore to Nate Silver say he has a good chance of winning. So what will Hillary Clinton and the Democrats do? Here’s what I hope they do not do: run screaming to the right. It’s a old story. When the shit hits the fan, when everyone points and yells LIBERAL! LIBERAL! — when it looks like the odds are stacked 1001 against, what happens? Democrats run screaming to the right.
Numerous examples exist. One that sticks to mind, because it pissed me off so much at the time, is the case of former Senator Blanche Lincoln. Ms. Lincoln represented Arkansas in the US Senate from 1999 to 2011. During the health care debate, she came out against the “public option,” that part of the Affordable Care Act that would have created a government-run health care option that folks could choose on the healthcare exchanges. It would have competed head-to-head against corporate healthcare companies, something conservatives didn’t like. After all, they only like competition when the monied class wins. Since Ms. Lincoln saw herself in a tough reelection battle in 2010, she thought it best to run screaming to the right.
Lots of Democrats ran screaming to the right in 2010. And we saw what happened. Democrats lost the House and barely held on to the Senate. They would go on to lose the Senate in 2014. The main casualty in 2010 were Blue Dog, conservative Democrats such as Ms. Lincoln. I’ve always said why vote for an imitation Republican when you can vote for the real thing. Apparently, a lot of other people felt the same way. Blue Dogs are a rare breed these days.
Will Hillary Clinton run screaming to the right? One wouldn’t think she would have to, considering who she’s running against. But the temptation always seems to be there for Democrats. Bill Clinton did rightist bullshit prior to his 1996 reelection bid, such as sign the stupid Defense of Marriage Act. Even though he was a popular incumbent that most felt was assured reelection, fear, apparently, tempted him to run right, albeit without too much screaming.
Secretary Clinton faces greater temptations since she is trying to get her foot in the door. Some worry that her VP pick, Senator Tim Kaine, is too safe a choice, too middle-of-the-road. A step to the right? Not necessarily. Patrick Caldwell at Mother Jones called Kaine a “reliable, quiet progressive.” Kaine personally opposes abortion, but is pro-choice, like Vice President Biden. He also supported the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, at least until Clinton tapped him to be her running mate. Based on his record, then, I wouldn’t call him a lefty firebrand, but I wouldn’t label him a Blanche Lincoln-style Blue Dog either.
The Democratic National Convention will put the party and their candidate in the spotlight. I do not expect to see the same level of screaming vitriol that Trump put on last week. But will they run screaming to the right? I hope not.
© 2016, gar. All rights reserved.