The biggest mistake you can make in business, politics or war is to under-estimate your opponent. The second biggest mistake: over-estimating your opponents.
The Democratic party made the first mistake in 2016 election by under-estimating Donald Trump and making the assumption that the election was a foregone conclusion. It was….for Trump.
It was Trump, and his handlers, who read the tea leaves and understood that the country was not going to elect another Democrat in 2016, regardless of whom that candidate might have been. Regardless of protestations to the contrary, of which there have been many, neither Bernie Sanders, nor Elizabeth Warren, nor any other Democratic luminary-in-waiting, would have fared any better than Hillary Clinton did. Most would have fared far worse.
The bitter pill that the Democrats had to swallow in 2016 was that Hillary Clinton was a foregone conclusion when it came to the Democratic nomination for president. Some liberal Democrats, having elected a black president, now felt it was time to elect a woman president. To them, it didn’t matter which woman they elected as long as the candidate was a woman. Of the women at their disposal, Hillary Clinton was far and away the front runner because, having lost to Obama in 2008, and having served him as Secretary of State through his first term in office, she had paid her dues and it was now time to pay the piper for the tune.
Unfortunately, although powerful and well-positioned enough to scare potential primary opponents into passivity, Hillary Clinton came equipped with decades-worth of baggage, some real, some imagined, and some contrived, that made her a less palatable candidates for blacks, Latinos, hard-hat workers, and everyone else who felt left behind in the great leap forward of American capitalism, including middle of the road Democrats who, let’s face it, are Republicans in Democratic clothing, DINOS — Democrats in Name Only.
It is time for the Democratic party to face facts: it is no longer the majority party in the United States. As a matter of fact, it is the third biggest party in American politics, after “none of the above” in the first position with more than 90 million members, and Republicans, who have edged out the Democrats in recent Gallop party preference polls.
Second fact: If the Democratic party was a baseball team, it would never come within shouting distance of the World Series because the party is lacking two key elements that are the backbone of a World Series winner: a deep bench and a strong bull pen.
Go ahead: Try to name three front runners for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. Now, try to name three front runners who are not Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren.
See the problem now?
The Republican party has a deep bench, as the 17 candidates they put up in the 2016 primaries demonstrated. Some of them were buffoons, but several of them were actually of presidential timber.
The Democrats put up six, two of which weren’t actually Democrats, or were Democrats in name only. Right now, can you name all six? No? How many Republicans in the class of 2016 can you name? Chances are that you can name seven or eight right off the bat, beginning with Jeb Bush.
In addition to having no bench, the Democrats have no bull pen. They are deep in utility players, media figureheads and pundits, but shallow when it comes to policy making organizations, think tanks, and progressive leadership groups. Go ahead. Name ONE Democratic think tank.
Okay, so the Democrats are weak in the backfield (to mix up the sports metaphors) and weak on both the offensive and defensive lines, and they have no depth to fill vacancies from when injuries incapacitate front runners…and these are the conditions under whichthe Democratic party is going into the 2018 by-election and the 2020 general election, weak at every position from county commissioners through presidential candidates. That weakness extends to the all-important state house and senate races, and includes Congressional House and Senate races, as well as mayoral competitions and gubernatorial contests. In effect, then, the Democrats have no farm system, because the state offices are where you groom the next generation’s leaders.
So, now, let’s hope that the Republicans make the Democratic mistake and underestimate the ability of the Democratic party to come back from seven years’ worth of blistering defeats.
The only problem is that Republicans don’t make that kind of mistake. They will be going balls-out, pedal to the metal right into the 2018 by-election with two goals in sight: remove recalcitrant Republicans who have not been willing to board the Trump bandwagon, and sweep control of the 38 state legislatures that the Republicans need to propose and approve a brand-new, Republican-written Constitution.
The Republicans, you see, figured out a long time ago that, sooner or later, the worm will turn again and the Democrats will regain control of the House and the Senate, and perhaps even the presidency, although that seems a little far-fetched right now. When that happens, the Democrats can simply rewrite and reverse all the legislative atrocities the Republicans are going to enact over the next eight years….unless the Republicans write those changes into the Constitution itself, in which case it won’t matter what the Democrats do, as long as the Republicans remain in control of the state legislatures.
This is their long-term game plan, the conversion of a democratic republic into a theocratic, Republican autocracy, converting the robber barons of the 19th century into the actual barons of a 21st century America.
Of course, you know that the Democrats are quite convinced that this will never happen, that the American people will not allow a Republican minority to write out a free press, the right of assembly, trial by jury, habeus corpus, and the rest of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Democrats are simply incapable of believing that they have fallen so far behind the learning curve of history that they do not comprehend the changes that mass communications, and the internet in particular, have wrought upon this global civilization, and the American segment of that global civilization.
This is where the Democrats, and everyone else who believes that the Constitution, as it stands right now, is sacrosanct, are making the mistake of over-estimating the people, of believing that the people in their righteous might will simply rise up and NOT VOTE for these heinous measures that the evil Republicans are bent upon imposing on us.
Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking: the people have already spoken and, as far as they are concerned, America is a Christian country, where white people can and should control the government, education is bad for America, climate change is a myth, no one needs a Food and Drug Administration to keep bad foods and bad drugs off the market, coal will be king again, poor people do not deserve health care, and everyone in America can become a millionaire if they just work hard enough and long enough because they are going to make America great again.
That’s the myth that the Republicans are selling, and it has taken root. Believing that Americans are going to see through these myths to the underlying corruption requires that Americans are educated enough to see through the smokescreen, and that they are able to get the factual information that they need to make informed decisions.
In the internet-infused American of the 21st century, there are no such things as facts. Just opinions, and one man’s opinion is as good or bad as another’s, regardless of whether that man is a rocket scientist or a ticket taker at a carnival sideshow, or a man who puts his name on buildings that other people build. Everyone’s opinions are now equal because everyone can find substantiation for their beliefs somewhere on the internet.
Over-estimating the American people, or under-estimating their stupidity, is no reflection on the American people themselves because they are just as smart as any other people. We are talking here about ignorance, not stupidity.
The difference between ignorance and stupidity should be obvious to everyone but, under the present circumstances, it might be wise to offer the following clarification: Ignorance is a condition in which a person does not have enough information. Stupidity is the inability to use the information one has to come up with logical conclusions on the basis of the available information.
You are ignorant if you do not know how to build a Lego house from a random assortment of parts. You are stupid if you can’t follow the instructions that Lego includes in every box to build the house from the parts you have been given.
So, the difference between ignorance and stupidity is information. Once given the proper information, you can determine who is stupid, and who isn’t, because the stupid ones still can’t build the Lego house. The ignorant ones, now no longer ignorant, can.
Over the past twenty to thirty years, the Republican party has been following a game plan that includes the dumbing down of the American people. First, they tried restricting access to information, but that didn’t work. Information has a way of spreading regardless of the attempts governments make to restrain it.
Now, however, we are in an arc of civilization in which we do indeed have too much information. We’re drowning in undifferentiated, unverified and very often contradictory information to the point where the truth is no longer discernible from the fictions, making it easier and easier to tell the people what to believe and watch as they come to believe it.
No case is more graphic than the American Congress, which right now has a majority of members who believe that abortion is against the bible (it isn’t), that the world was created 5,000 years ago by a spiritual super being (it, obviously, wasn’t), and a host of other things that normal people do not believe.
Unlike Vice President Mike Pence, most people to do not believe that if they put their faith in Jesus they wouldn’t need to go to the doctor.
Unlike Alabama’s Republican Senator Luther Strange, we do not believe that Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States is a “biblical miracle.”
Unlike this Republican Congress, most of us accept that, regardless of whether it is our fault or not as human beings, that something bad is happening to the world’s climate.
Unlike this Republican Congress, most of us to do not believe that tax cuts to the wealthy will improve the living conditions of the poor, or will make the middle class better off.
These examples indicate that the Republican party drank its own Kool-Aid and believes — against all of the available evidence — that their economic policies will lead to prosperity when every single Nobel laureate in Economics believes the exact opposite.
They espouse policies that have no scientific, economic, or scientific substantiation because a significant number of them believe that the End Times are at hand and that it doesn’t matter what we do because Jesus is going to come back and make everything right again. Even those Republicans who do not believe in the fundamentalist party line have to toe that line anyway or risk the ire of the fundamentalists in their next primary appearance.
What is surprising is that anyone is surprised that an anti-science, anti-economics, anti-everything congressional delegation is as stupid as the current class of Republican congresspeople appear to be…but the preponderance of the evidence suggests that this is exactly what they are: stupid.
Remember, ignorance is not knowing the facts. Stupidity is ignoring them.