From Medium: Today, I opened my "Medium Daily Digest" email and found what turned out to be a rather curious recommendation; whoever is charged with assembling those digests thought I'd be interested in a piece called "The Democratic Party is America's Largest Hate Group." It's written by someone named Austin Frank and it was apparently published at the end of August. Frank is a rightist attempting to critique the Democratic party and, lost in that fever-swamp wherein dwells the worst elements of the Trumpanzee right, failing badly. Still, it was an interesting day to encounter his piece; the Values Voters Summit is kicking off today in the nation's capitol. It’s an event organized by four of the most prominent hate-groups in the U.S., a platform extended to GOP pols and commentators and this year, for the first time in history, a sitting U.S. President will be headlining there. Even as I read Frank trying to conjure his image of Democrats as some sort of hate-group, we're in for an endless parade of Republican reactionaries, racists, conspiracy kooks offering vile ravings against Muslims, brown people from foreign shores with funny accents, gay people, etc. that will go on for days and is now being given the imprimatur of the highest office in the land--an office not occupied by a Democrat.
Dismantling Frank's fantasy seems a waste of time--let's be, yes, frank, he isn't terribly interested in reality--but it would perhaps be unsporting to point out its fever-swamp quality without hacking through at least some of the weeds. So a few items:
"Democrats' abandonment of policy for a full-blown embrace of identity politics: the party seeks to divide the country into victims and oppressors, and claims its moral authority by purporting to be fighting for the victims. The party's message is no longer 'This is how we will make life better for you and your family,' it is, 'Let's take revenge on the white/male/heterosexual oppressors who are responsible for all the evil in the world today.'"
Hillary Clinton abandoned policy and used a weaponized faux-"identity politics" to attack Bernie Sanders last year. A loud but small handful of her cult is still beating that drum today but the progressives, who have always insisted that politics is about policy, are the dominant faction in the party (even though they don't fill many of its leadership roles yet). Clinton isn't "the left"--she's an opportunist who, politically, is basically a rightist who, because she was hopelessly outgunned on substantive matters (and in the wrong party for someone with her views), tried to use that phony ID politics as a cudgel in a campaign. Your own caricature of "identity politics" is unhelpful and tries to wipe away the reality of baked-in problems re:these matters that need to be addressed. "Vote for me because I'm a woman" is a self-evidently stupid non-starter; desperately-needed law enforcement reform is not. Addressing those problems isn't "punishing" anyone; it's correcting injustice. Attempting to prevent those problems from being addressed--by, for example, presenting efforts to address them as aimed at punishing straight white males--does no service; it perpetuates them. And sides with keeping them.
"Think of the 2016 election: as far as a political agenda went, Hillary’s was forgettable. It was basically 'Uh, What Bernie Said' + 'Let's Break the Glass Ceiling!' The signature moment of her campaign was when she denounced half the country as irredeemable bigots in her 'Deplorables' diatribe. But that's Democratic politics today."
You start, here, by getting very close to the truth then you have to ruin it with more nonsense. Clinton was, in fact, constantly offering watered-down versions of Sanders' proposals then denouncing Sanders' own as unrealistic, undoable, ill-advised (she now tries to rewrite this history and insist Sanders was aping her policy proposals). Clinton's campaign was never about policy. She was politically incompetent and a terrible candidate but she never "denounced half the country as irredeemable bigots"; she said half of Trump's supporters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic--you name it"--things she (correctly) called deplorable. This was off-the-cuff and although polling data supported her contention, arguably quite politically stupid. That's not any sort of indicator of "Democratic politics today"; it's just something stupid said by one very bad candidate who lost and who never should have been that party's presidential nominee.
"...in reality, the Tea Party was a legitimate grassroots movement with a coherent and appealing political agenda that wound up sweeping the GOP to power in the 2010 midterms. The Tea Party was clearly a success from the standpoint of channeling conservative frustrations and and concerns into a winning political strategy. The Tea Party infrastructure and ethos drove Republican gains in the 2014 midterms and largely carried Donald Trump to the Presidency in 2016."
The Tea Party wasn't a "grassroots" anything; it wasn't even a movement. After all this time, it shouldn't be necessary to continue to have to point out its actual origins in the machinations of well-funded professional astroturfers who, in cooperation with right-wing media, used it to rebrand disaffected reactionaries at a time when the Repub party was very unpopular. That story has been told, re-told and re-re-told--documented all to Hell and back. The "Tea Party" didn't lead to Republican victories in 2010 or any other year. Its fruit-loopy candidates, in fact, cost Republicans Senate seats that year. Democrats have been losing for years in part because the party in the White House always loses in mid-term elections, both in congress and at the state and local level. Repubs will lose seats next year too (although they won't lose the U.S. House, as they hold that by virtue of extensive gerrymandering in various states). The "Tea Party" didn't have a political platform--its creators made a big deal out of not giving it one. It didn't take Trump to the presidency, although many of the disaffected reactionaries who, back then, associated with it certainly became Trumpanzees. It doesn't really exist and, in effect, never really existed.
"Nancy Pelosi is one of the few Democrats with any political sense, seeing as she just the other day unequivocally condemned and disavowed Antifa."
Antifa activists aren't "Democratic" anything and they haven't, as you would have it, "emerged for Democrats post-2016." They've been around since the 1980s, many decades longer in other countries, and are radical leftists, primarily anarchists, who don’t believe in liberal democracy and have no significant sympathizers among the regular liberals/progressives who make up much of the Democratic party. Contrary to your caricature, prominent progressive/Democratic commentators and pols have offered them nothing but scorn.
And Nancy Pelosi, whose reaction to the sweeping 2016 loses in her own party was to go on television and insist voters didn't want Democrats to change, is not a good example of a pol with "political sense."
"Which Democrat politicians have emerged from the wreckage to lead the party forward? 79-year-old Maxine Waters, a rabid, corrupt Trump-hater who calls for impeachment anytime she's near a microphone. Tom Perez, the foul-mouthed DNC chairman who seems to offer nothing but vulgarity and anger. And Hillary Clinton still pops up here and there to blame somebody for her loss last November, or to painfully try to be hip, even though her party wishes she'd just go away."
Smarter Democrats do wish Clinton would just go away. She isn't going to "lead the party forward." But no one ever said she was. Maxine Waters is outspoken (and black) but your singling out of her is otherwise random. Tom Perez was installed as DNC chief when the conservative Establishment wing of the party came to be horrified that Keith Ellison, the favorite of the surging progressives, was about to become chairman. It recruited Perez to prevent that and installed him using some very dirty tactics. As a consequence, Perez is widely despised and at the Democratic "Unity" events earlier this year, was booed by audiences everywhere he went.
Those same audiences were, however, cheering for Bernie Sanders, and it's rather curious that you exclude him from your list. Sanders isn't just the most popular active politician among Democrats, he's the most popular in the U.S. Even Establishment Democrats are trying (though often fairly cluelessly) to ape his populist appeal and he has inspired a whole new generation of progressive candidates who have been throwing their hats into the ring in various races around the U.S.. It’s a mistake to look for some big, prominent leader to show up and make things right with the world--that isn't how political parties should function--but Sanders is the closest Democrats have to such a thing now.
"How can a movement animated by anything other than hatred and disdain produce political cartoons such as this one?"
Politics are primary grist for the mills of comedians and comics and if you're going to write about 'em, it's very ill-advised to be this thin-skinned. Good comedians and cartoonists hold a mirror up to a people and when this works--and Matt Wuerker, the cartoonist here, is often very good--it's because it gets at a truth. Texas is full of rightists who proudly and loudly burnish their conservatism while safely tucked beneath the wing of the nanny state. A slew of right-wing Texas politicians, who spew that same poison and actually voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy then turned up with their hands out to the feds when Harvey plowed through their state. That cartoon isn't born of "hatred and disdain" and it doesn't bother you because of you think it was; its target is hypocrisy and people who are full of shit, and it bothers you because it's true.
You insist "the number of actual 'Nazis' in this country is a rounding error" but you wrote this article at the end of August, in the aftermath of the nightmarish events in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, white supremacists/Nazis/fascists, gathered to show their support of Donald Trump and Robert E. Lee, violently attacked counter-demonstrators. In the end, one of them drove his car into a crowd of those counter-demonstrators and murdered a woman. If he'd had his way, he would have murdered many more. These hate-movements have been surging for years--they didn't like that whole black president thing--and they've been particularly emboldened by Trump, who speaks their lingo and has courted them in ways that would have been political suicide for any other national politician. His immediate reaction to that VA horror was to blame both sides, as if there were two sides in the matter. It took him two further days to finally condemn the animals who actually were responsible and he'd walked back those remarks by the next afternoon, insisting there were "very fine people" marching with the Nazis and condemning the "alt-left." You watched all of this unfold and your reaction wasn't to condemn those white supremacists/Nazis/fascists or to condemn Trump for his own unconscionable behavior but to write this article in which you crafted a fantasy of the Democratic party as a big hate-group.
That speaks for itself.
 That year, Republicans had potential Senate victories in Colorado, Nevada, California, Delaware and Alaska but lost all of them because of nutty "Tea Party" candidates.
 That isn't, by any means, to say this is the Democratic party’s only problem but it's the place to start when it comes to evaluating those losses.