An essay the Adamites won’t read: “Our movement must base itself on a politics capable of confronting both Trump and the rotten elite liberalism that enabled his rise.”


Here in Floyd County, the only mantra local Democrats have been able to muster is Make Monetization Great Again.

They’ll wail and moan about Trump, then without even washing their hands, praise Jeff Gahan for promoting luxury at the expense of the most vulnerable, as in the instance of public housing “reform.”

I’d say this sort of inattention to basic ideological hygiene can spread disease, except the rot’s already so pervasive that it probably doesn’t matter.

Politicking Without Politics, by Paul Heideman (Jacobin)

Democratic elites are delusional — you can’t subdue the reactionary right without a robust alternative political vision.

For a distillation of the Democratic Party’s self-conception today, one could do worse than consult Nancy Pelosi’s recent pronouncement: “We don’t have a party orthodoxy — they [the Republicans] are ideological.”

For some time now, this view of the political divide — Democrats are consummate pragmatists, Republicans are rigid slaves to dogma — has predominated in elite liberal circles. Hillary Clinton, after all, centered her campaign on competence and experience far more than any actual conception of politics.

And despite the resulting disaster, this desire to have a politics without politics — this strategy to build a coalition bereft of any clear values or principles — has continued to animate liberals’ opposition to Trump. Democrats really believe, it seems, that they can subdue the reactionary right without articulating any alternative political vision beyond prudent governance.


Over the longer term, the fruits of the Democrats’ strategy are even more troubling. In framing their opposition to Trump as non-political, Democrats are perpetuating the crisis in American liberalism.

Obama initially appeared to be liberalism’s savior, promising to redeem it from its abject failures during the Bush years. But eight years of managerial centrism left the party hollowed out both institutionally and ideologically. Without any real challenge from the left, Obama never strayed far from the path laid out by the banks and tech companies that funded his campaigns. While his personal gifts allowed him to win very high approval ratings for a two-term president, his policies did little to alleviate the growing misery in many parts of the country. Obama’s inability to rewrite the political and economic rules of the game ensured that any candidate who lacked his talents would be unable to stitch together the same coalition.

It is this continued fidelity to American capitalism, this unwavering commitment to keeping things more or less as they are, that stands behind the Democrats’ apparent fear of ideas. Any actual attempt to advance the principles that loom large in the American liberal imagination would entail some sort of confrontation with capital, and the Democratic Party, bought and paid for by capital, is unwilling to contemplate such a step.


Fortunately, the alternative to Democratic vapidity is not hard to find. It has reverberated through much of the popular resistance to Trump’s presidency. When thousands of people gathered at JFK Airport to protest the Muslim ban, they didn’t make an hour-long subway trip to stand in the cold because they thought Trump was being hypocritical or unpresidential. They gathered because they felt Trump had infringed on core values of egalitarianism and fairness. They were moved by a basic sense of injustice. They were moved, in other words, by politics.

While the liberal evasion of politics gives the impression that the Democrats have no ideas they are confident enough to defend, mobilizations like the refugee solidarity protests do the exact opposite. When thousands of people assemble with signs declaring “Refugees are Welcome Here,” they stake out a political ground that directly confronts Trump. They provide a political pole capable of further mobilization.