Last week during the DNC, I ran into an influential Democratic operative whom I know and respect a great deal. We joked around a bit, and after ribbing me for being critical of Hillary Clinton, he told me to “keep propping up Donald Trump.”
He was joking. I think. Or half-joking. Who knows.
The point is one that liberals have been making a lot recently: that when you criticize Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party you are providing de facto support for Donald Trump. And supporting Donald Trump means supporting Fascism. You’re not a Fascist are you?
Now let’s all take a deep breath.
Politics is about convincing people to join your side. It’s a constant argument between varying interest groups, all of whom have issues they are looking to advance or privileges they are trying to protect. The actual effect that's seen from superficial stuff like rousing speeches, token displays of diversity, dank twitter memes, and yes, projections of “party unity,” is way overrated.
The Democratic Party’s strategy so far seems to be to stamp out dissent from the left, while appealing to “moderates” on the right. The decision to give Mike Bloomberg, a one-time Republican, “Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative” guy who promoted violent and racist police tactics while surveilling Muslims, a prime-time speaking slot at The DNC is an example of this.
Even more indicative is Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate. An oil industry lobbyist said that Kaine was “the best they could hope for.” The Business Press hailed him as a Democrat “Wall Street can like.” Tim Kaine even described himself as a conservative.
Tim Kaine praised The Trans-Pacific Partnership the day before he was announced as Clinton's VP pick. Virginia Governor and close Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe said that Clinton would flip on the TPP after the election (he ended up walking back his comments).
And perhaps most worryingly of all has been the defection en masse of Neoconservatives like Robert Kagan from the Republican Party over to the Democratic Party. Neoconservatives, it’s worth remembering, were the fanatical foreign policy professionals who led us into the Iraq War and implemented the torture regime.
Now, ignoring the question of whether a rightward lurch from the Democratic Party is defensible on moral grounds, it is simply indefensible on strategic political grounds. It doesn’t take the savviest political analyst to realize in 2016, the year where the general story across the Western world has been a populist backlash against elites, that a Pro-Wall Street, Pro-War, Pro-Free Trade strategy is not going to be very popular.
Reflexively defending every single thing about Hillary Clinton has caused many loyal partisans to tie themselves into knots defending things they formerly criticized, such as the role that money plays in our political system. This kind of thing is simply not going #StopTrump.
The goal of many of the activists at The DNC was to keep pushing Hillary Clinton to the left. That may very well actually increase her popularity more than a few boos during Leon Panetta’s speech could harm it.
Nando Vila is Vice President of Programming at Fusion and a correspondent for America with Jorge Ramos.