Will the Democrats Become a Party of Principle?

Published at 10:16 on 8 November 2018

The Democratic Party has not in my adult life been a party of principle. It has been a party of compromise, a victim of a sort of institutional Stockholm syndrome. It once was a party of principle, during the New Deal and Great Society eras, but I was only a young child during the latter (preschool age) so of course politics was beyond my comprehension at the time.

By contrast, the Republicans have been the party of principle: unafraid to plainly state what they want, stick to the message, and unabashedly pursue it. That is, they were until Donald Trump came along. Then most of their old principles got thrown out the window and replaced with the fascist principle of complete devotion to the leader.

The prior state of affairs always really annoyed me. I often said that the GOP was the only party of principle, but unfortunately its principles were generally repugnant to me, so I was stuck with the party of compromise.

That was bad enough when it caused the decades-long erosion of the working and middle classes at the expense of the rich. Now the crises has reached an entirely different level: compromise with fascism will be vastly more tragic than compromise with conservatism.

Ironically, now is the time for a measure of compromise with conservatism of the never-Trump variety, provided those conservatives are willing to reciprocate. It took a Popular Front in the form of an alliance between the UK, the USA, and the USSR to defeat fascism. My guess is it will take another Popular Front to do so today to defeat Trumpism.

But I digress. To reiterate, we simply can not afford any compromise with Trumpist fascism.

Nancy Pelosi probably did for political reasons have to give her “We’re hopeful we can work with them, but we will be exercising our power of oversight” speech today. Well, that game is now up. Trump let it be known in no uncertain terms that anything other than total submission to his will is utterly unacceptable to him. It is the standard position of any fascist leader, after all.

There is simply no reasonable response to such an attitude except political warfare. Is the party of compromise capable of rising to the occasion? I certainly hope so, but given its history I have my doubts.

It is here that the never-Trump conservative wing of the opposition might prove a useful asset. As refugees from the old GOP, they have experience in the realm of principles and standing by them, experience that most Democrats lack. Encouragingly, David Frum has already penned an excellent editorial basically calling for such political warfare against Trump.

Can the Democrats rise to the occasion? We shall soon see. For all our sake, I certainly hope they will.

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