Tuesday, my new column at the American Spectator went up. It’s a piece about how while the media went on and on about the Donald Trump-John McCain verbal fisticuffs, something of a lot more moment was happening at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix…
The attendees weren’t the usual cast of unionists, coffeehouse socialists, and soreheads of exotic sexual proclivity. More prominent at this year’s Netroots gathering were the radicals of the #BlackLivesMatter variety, who proceeded in hooting and hectoring O’Malley and Sanders after assaulting the stage and hijacking Vargas’s presentation.
The scene of Sanders’ tribulation, bizarre as it was, was best described by the Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles…
An avowed socialist was heckled by #BlackLivesMatter protestors while being interviewed by an illegal immigrant and author of a recent documentary about white privilege.
Worse than Sanders’ ordeal was that endured by O’Malley, who made the unpardonable mistake of challenging the #BlackLivesMatter narrative by noting that, in fact, white lives also matter — for which he soon issued a groveling apology.
Sanders and O’Malley are less likely to end up with the Democratic nomination than Trump is to earn the GOP nod, but the #BlackLivesMatter intrusion is a far more significant development than the latter’s various expositions of competitive urination.
Our readers might be familiar with these people owing to their frequent appearances in places like Ferguson and Baltimore, where riot scenes develop as a result of unfortunate encounters between street thugs and police. But the movement has begun gaining steam, progressing to a series of invasions of upscale eateries to disrupt the consumption of brunch with racist harangues through to the weekend’s theatrics. Now, #BlackLivesMatter has proclaimed a list of demands on its website, and a less serious collection of aims you will struggle to find.
When Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, hardly an apologist for the unjust racist capitalist oligarchy, saw the demands — including the “release of all U.S. political prisoners,” “freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex,” “a racial justice agenda from the White House that is inclusive of our shared fate as Black men, women, trans and gender-nonconforming people” and “a public education system that teaches the rich history of Black people and celebrates the contributions we have made to this country and the world” — he found himself perplexed. “At the risk of being yet another clueless white guy, I’d be curious to know how this translates into concrete initiatives,” Drum mused.
Moving on, I stipulated that it’s no big deal for Sanders and O’Malley to be hooted down by the social justice mob at a gathering of leftist nutballs – except that the same #BlackLivesMatter crazies have also gotten to Hillary Clinton…
Back in June, Clinton made the same “error” O’Malley did in saying “All lives matter” at a forum in a Missouri church. But while she dodged the Netroots Nation event (she concocted a scheduling conflict, in no small part thanks to memories of being booed in 2007 when she last addressed it as a presidential candidate), on Monday during a Facebook Q&A she reversed herself and repeated the “Black Lives Matter” mantra, and added this…
Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that. We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality. Black people across America still experience racism every day. Since this campaign started, I’ve been talking about the work we must do to address the systemic inequities that persist in education, in economic opportunity, in our justice system. But we have to do more than talk — we have to take action. For example — we should make sure every police department in the US has body cameras. We should provide alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders. We should invest in early childhood education for every child. We should fight for voting rights and universal voter registration. You will continue to hear me talking about these issues throughout this campaign and pushing for real solutions. —H
It’s a pabulum statement designed to make the mob go away, but their agenda — which will be formalized at a conference in Cleveland this weekend — doesn’t stop at body cameras and pre-kindergarten. The more the #BlackLivesMatter movement goes beyond a simple urban grievance rabble and begins to look like a well-organized lobby group for street criminals and the race industry, the worse things will be for the Democrats.
What this mess shows, primarily, is what the end of Barack Obama does to the Democrats – something that would be manifest even without the #BlackLivesMatter crowd coming to the political forefront but is a lot bigger problem now that they have. Specifically, Obama brought to the table the possibility of building a successful coalition in just the right numbers – near unanimous support from black voters, and particularly urban black voters, single women, 20-somethings, unionized public employees, gays and to a lesser extent Mexicans. Of that coalition, the black vote is perhaps the most crucial – Obama has not only gotten the Democrats closer to 100 percent than any other presidential candidate but he’s greatly increased the black share of the electorate.
But as time has gone by, particularly in light of the failure to produce any real deliverables to the black community primarily in terms of economic advancement, it’s been harder and harder for Obama and his party to hold that near-unanimous share of that vote. It didn’t work all that well in the 2010 midterms and it definitely didn’t work in the 2014 midterms – and Obama saw a diminution of that vote in 2012 as well.
So because he can’t hold that coalition together through governing well, Obama has ratcheted up the racial tensions with every opportunity and in so doing he’s created the environment for the #BlackLivesMatter people to emerge out of the Fergusons and Baltimores. And while Obama can largely control those crazies, nobody else in that party can.
Hillary, the rich white lady from Wall Street, certainly can’t.
And what that means is without the cult of personality surrounding the First Black President, there’s a problem. The Democrats can either hold the moderate “Reagan Democrats” from the white working class, or they can hold the near-unanimous share of the black vote Obama delivered. They’re not going to get both if to turn out the Hard Left urban socialist crowd they have to run on “an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of Black people and all oppressed people” and “an end to the military industrial complex that incentivizes private corporations to profit off of the death and destruction of Black and Brown communities across the globe.”
So I go and write that piece, and I think I’ve hit a home run in political analysis with something nobody else is saying.
Then I find this at Hot Air…
This is the message which Democrats really need to get a grip on. You see, that other crowd outside – no matter whether it’s outside Netroots Nation or CPAC – has two groups in it. They include all races and both genders. They don’t go to conventions like these or spend their entire day watching cable news. But they vote and they have concerns. One group is mostly conservative, but not the kind of conservatives in the CPAC hall. They’ve just got the usual concerns of rank and file Republicans sitting around kitchen tables across the nations. But don’t worry… the other group is composed of liberals. They like you. They agree with you nearly all the time and will hitch their wagon to most every progressive horse you’re riding… as long as you don’t push them too far.
These two groups respond differently to the #BlackLivesMatter “disaster” which Ross is writing about, and the response changes as the train wreck shifts through two distinct phases of it. When people begin chanting “Black Lives Matter” the more conservative group may give you a bit of an eye roll, but it’s not because they hate you. They just already know that black lives matter and have long since moved on to the “all lives matter” portion of the agenda. They may think it’s being a bit overblown in the press as well. But he liberal crowd is right there with you. They will chant along in unison. They’ve probably seen plenty of stories about young black men getting in fatal encounters with police and think the matter deserves attention. So far so good.
But then the next phase arrives. When the speaker says that White Lives Matter and All Lives Matter and the crowd screams in protest about how horrible that is, the conservative crowd is going to turn ugly. They’re fine with equality, but they don’t want it turning into some sort of reverse entitlement society. But that’s okay… you’re not hunting for their votes. Instead you need to look at the progressive crowd. They’ve stopped chanting. Wait. What? Our lives don’t matter? Aren’t we all in this together? We’re supposed to be on the same team here.
You can try to start in on the long explanation that Ross attempted, but as the old saying goes, if you’re spending all your time explaining you’ve already lost the argument. And then, when they see the subject shift to the former Black Panther who is talking about “spectacle” beingonly the beginning and young black people having “to do more than just lay down in the streets” you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. They’re not only no longer chanting… they’re slowly edging away from you and wondering if the folks in the eye rolling crowd have any room on their bus.
Essentially, Jazz Shaw is saying the same thing – which is that the people who might be usual Democrat voters but certainly not the Hard Left base will get a good look at the #BlackLivesMatter bunch, and they will get a better and better look as this election cycle progresses, and they’re going to be horrified.
It’s already pretty clear that a backlash against political correctness and the angry social justice warriors among us is coming. The more we see of the #BlackLivesMatter crowd essentially threatening riots unless they get a functional program of reparations for slavery, the faster that backlash will arrive. And when it comes, the Obama coalition can’t get you to 50 percent plus one.
Meanwhile, The Federalist’s David Marcus looked at the fracas in Phoenix and saw something similar to what Hunter S. Thompson saw in watching the Hard Left eat the Democrat Party in 1972…
Early on in “Fear and Loathing,” Thompson opens a chapter with this quote from Los Angeles Times reporter D.J.R. Bruckner:
There are issues enough. What is gone is the popular passion for them. Possibly, hope is gone. The failure of hope would be a terrible event; the blacks have never been cynical about America. But the conversation you hear among the young now, on the South Side of Chicago, up in Harlem or in Bedford-Stuyvesant, certainly suggests the birth of a new cynicism. In the light of what government is doing, you might well expect young blacks to lose hope in the power elites, but this is something different—a cold personal indifference, a separation of man from man. What you hear and see is not rage, but injury, a withering of expectations.
It turns out that Ta-Nehisi Coates’ low expectations for white people isn’t as new as it might seem. And the withering sense of injury expressed at Netroots by O’Malley saying “all lives matter” isn’t either. Thompson goes on to explain how this refusal to engage explained not only the black political moment of 1972, but that of all progressives. They weren’t going to stand by and allow the moderate Democrats like Scoop Jackson to pretend the nation wasn’t at a revolutionary moment. Beating Nixon wasn’t enough. He had to be beaten by the hippies, the blacks, the gays—the marginalized who would announce a new greater society of profound freedom.
They lost. They lost by a lot. They lost by a margin barely seen before or since. It turns out that the majority of Americans do not snap to attention when radicals present agendas based more on philosophy than prosperity. In 1972, progressives believed that they had seized the moment, that the unrest and popular upheavals of the late ’60s had announced the coming of a new America. They believed they had occupied the American mind. And in the early 2010s, another group of occupiers had come to believe the same thing.
Marcus’ piece is a great read in explaining how a radical fringe on the far left has already engineered an electoral wipeout of the Democrats once and showing how it could easily happen again.
Now, to project that 2016 could be a disastrous year for the Democrats as a result of the #BlackLivesMatter mob and others like it on the Hard Left we have to at least make the assumption that there is a competent and vigorous Republican nominee. But even though the GOP primary looks like a food fight at present it seems fair to say that this is a better field of candidates than the party has generated in the last couple of cycles – giving at least some hope that the 2016 election won’t be blown like the 2012 election was.
What we can be fairly optimistic about, though, is the opportunity which is presenting itself. The Left is devolving into warring tribes of activists and lacks a charismatic leader to pull it together the way Obama did. #BlackLivesMatter is a symptom of a Democrat Party which is out of gas, and it’s going to kill that party unless someone finds a way to kill it first.