Go figure: treating your political opponents as enemies you hate and fear does not lend itself to winning.
After the recent defeat of the so-called “skinny repeal” healthcare law, Sen. John McCain’s statement included this passage which is today considered rank heresy and which a generation ago would have been considered anodyne and obvious:
“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past… We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.”
I’m not going to delve into the intracasies of health care policy here. I was just thinking about what a perfect outcome for Trump would’ve really looked like.
For nobody but nobody even briefly doubted how 100% of the Dems would vote here. Their votes were foregone conclusions. What’s more, unlike with Obamacare, nobody from the majority side even bothered to try to reach out or flip some Dem votes. The reason is simple. Trump did not want a single Dem to vote for this. In his crude, bully worldview, it is actually a sign of strength if something like this is rammed through over the objections of his completely united opponents. “They put up their best fight, and even that was not enough,” he would then boast on Twitter, or words to that effect. (Liberally sprinkled with the usual catchphrases, of course: FAKE NEWS!, Sad!, etc.)
What his establishment-GOP enablers such as the recently unemployed Reince Priebus never quite grasped: It was never the Democratic Party that Trump was going to destroy.
If he really wanted a bill to destroy the Dems, he would have put together some sort of Obamacare reform, with a full and seemingly open process with hearings, that would attract just enough Democratic votes to render it filibuster-proof, perhaps with a few clever concessions such as protecting non-abortion Planned Parenthood funding. It’s not like he couldn’t count on the vote of, say, Ted Cruz either way, right?
Imagine the scene if that had happened. Liberal true-believers would bitterly denounce the yea-voters as sellouts, neoliberals, DINOs. The moderates, in turn, would mock the left as out-of-touch socialist-bros too busy protecting their moral purity to allow reasonable reforms that leave Planned Parenthood intact. The Dem-on-Dem sniping on the cable-TV shout shows would make the recently completed Reince-Mooch fight look like a case of mild ribbing.
In other words, he would have exploited the lingering Hillary vs. Bernie divide, leaving his enemies confused, helpless, and too busy with infighting and relitigation of the primaries to offer any serious opposition. He could make deals with either faction as needed, as the GOP remains completely unified in his corner Instead, he now faces a Dem party that is the one that’s remarkably unified. Instead, it’s the GOP looking like a fractured clown show, with Breitbarters complaining bitterly about the moderates, the moderates finally brave enough to consider standing up to Trump, and the GOP establishment realizing that nothing is going to get done with their historic advantage.
And it all comes to the stupid, belligerent tribalism of Trump and his supporters such as Sean Hannity and Kurt Schlichter, utterly consumed by their hatred of the other side to the point that nothing else matters. Where liberals are not merely opponents but enemies that must be smashed. Where something like a health care vote is not a vote but a battle to the death. Where proper parliamentary procedure such as hearings are for wimps and cucks. This stunted, false-alpha-male chest-beating is precisely what is leading this White House to one abject loss after another, with only Mitch McConnell’s Gorsuch victory on the W side of the ledger.
These are some dark years for the country. But they are salad days for the Democratic Party who, despite themselves and their incompetent national committee, are poised for a Corbynite resurgence in 2018.