Wednesday, May 4, 2016

After Indiana

Well, it is done. The Republicans will be nominating Donald Trump in Cleveland, come July. Watching Trump's victory speech last night, one might well have wondered whether he ever expected this when he launched his campaign. Clearly much of the country didn't - at least the cultural and political establishment certainly didn't. Watching the pundits comment on Trump's victory speech, it seemed that they too were still trying to get a clear handle on what has happened.  I found most of the commentary unenlightening, as one pundit after another expressed this or that disappointment with how his speech failed to measure up to the moment - apparently forgetting or ignoring the fact that Trump's appeal and success have largely come from his not following the conventional political playbook and that his rivals who did conform to more standard establishment expectations are now off the stage.

In Indiana, the ultimate hard-right ideologue went down to defeat - and with him ended the conservative movement's modern conquest of the Republican party. That can change, of course, as things so often do change in politics. The various strains of ideological conservatism that have allied in the modern Republican party are not going away. But it seems unlikely that the Republican party's promotion of policies aimed to benefit the top tier of society will be able to recover the widespread support of working class voters whose real interests the party has habitually ignored. Each element has finally been forced to see the other - and what motivates the other. And they really don't like each other. 

We used to pray in the Litany of the Saints  Ab ira et odio et omni mala voluntate, libera nos, Domine ("From anger and hatred and all evil will, deliver us, O Lord"). It is a petition we would do well to retrieve! Anger, hatred, and evil will are powerful forces and may well have more to do with deciding elections than we sometimes care to credit.

And therein lies a message for the Democrats. It remains to be seen what, if anything, the Democrats may make of this opportunity. It remains to be seen whether they can emerge from this election as America's natural governing party, instead of just another alternative identity group politics party, complicit with the Republicans in promoting anger, hatred and evil will.

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