The greatest threat to democracy in the history of our nation is the possibility of the racist, authoritarian Trump’s re-election. As Paul Krugman recently put it, www.nytimes.com/…,
If Trump is re-elected next year, that could mark the end of America’s democratic experiment.
Unity among Democrats is all-important. Insistence on purity is the enemy of unity. The worst of the 20-odd candidates, compared with Trump, is Lincoln and Dr. King and FDR and Jesus and Churchill and Ghandi all rolled into one.
In today’s New York Times, Maureen Dowd warns against a creeping puritanism in the progressive ranks. www.nytimes.com/… I am certainly progressive and not a puritan, but let’s consider her warning:
After I interviewed Nancy Pelosi a few weeks ago, The HuffPost huffed that we were Dreaded Elites because we were eating chocolates and — horror of horrors — the speaker had on some good pumps.
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Yo, proletariat: If the Democratic Party is going to be against chocolate, high heels, parties and fun, you’ve lost me. And I’ve got some bad news for you about 2020.
The progressives are the modern Puritans. The Massachusetts Bay Colony is alive and well on the Potomac and Twitter.
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The politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.
Yes, it does. As Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch in the incomparable Twelfth Night said of the puritanical Malvolio, “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” After Sir Toby and others hilariously trick Malvolio into proving himself a fool and a hypocrite, Malvolio swears that he will be back to exact revenge. Shakespeare proved himself prophetic, as Malvolio did come back, 40 years later, as Cromwell. How did that work out?
Yes, “the politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.” Think the French Revolution, which kept discarding leaders as not pure enough and ideal enough until it got to Robespierre. How did that work out?
Yes, “the politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.” Think the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts. How did they work out?
Think the utter lack of relativism — and the purism — that led to Democratic fecklessness following in the planned framing of Al Franken by Sean Hannity and his extreme-right acolytes. If you have not read Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece all the way through to the end, you should now. www.newyorker.com/... Lordy, how we could use Al Franken today!
At almost 82, I would still go into the streets to fight for those terrorized and tortured separated families and children at the border, for environmental protection including the Green New Deal and a return to the Paris Accords, for NATO, for Medicare-for-All-Who-Want-It (some form of the public option). But let’s not slide into purism or puritanism. Every Democrat is infinitely better than Trump.
Almost 82 — put that into perspective. Maureen Dowd said her father stayed up all night on Election Day 1948 because he was so excited that Truman had won. She is a youngster. At 11, I stayed up all night with my father because we were so excited that Truman was winning.
I want to do it again in November 2020, to see Trump lose by an enormous margin. It can happen. After all the false hype about Trump’s rising approval rating, as of last night his fivethirtyeight.com weighted-average-of-polls net approval rating was a negative -11.0%, exactly where it was on Election Day 2018, a very successful night for Democrats, and we can improve on that.
Let’s not put it at risk by being too pure. Think our most effective leaders, every one of them flawed, every one willing to have a little fun while fighting to defend and support those who can’t. Think FDR and his daily martinis. Think Truman deep-sea fishing while cursing out reviewers who criticized his daugher’s singing. Think the greatest civil-rights president since Lincoln, LBJ, with more impurities than I can mention without making this column book-length.
And Democrats at the debates, show your chops by attacking Trump and not each other. Everything we have is at stake.