Trump’s Regulatory Rollback is the Direct Result of the Democrats’ Failed Strategy
Dems’ over-reliance on an imperial Presidency has led to a myopic and disastrous policy of “live by the pen, die by the pen”
In 2007 Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which set a goal for the national fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020.
When Obama came in, rather than get new legislation passed, he did everything he could using solely the Executive Branch. Like so many other things, the CAFE standards are one more thing that should have been done through legislation but which the Democrats preferred to do through an increasingly imperial Presidency. Indeed, Democrat-aligned special interest groups have been encouraging Obama to pass Executive Orders affecting major issues like the environment and climate change, rather than go through Congress.
The imperial Presidency has been a problem for decades, but the Democrats are the ones that made it their overarching strategy, especially in the face of a majority GOP Congress and State governors and legislatures that oppose Democratic priorities. But this is part of the plan.
Much has been made about the fact that the State Democratic Parties were “starved” under Obama, resulting in losing not only the House but 1000+ state legislative seats across the country.
The Democrats’ “Coalition of the Ascendant”
The deliberate starvation of the State parties was part of a general strategy based on a cynical and essentially unconstitutional calculus: the Democrats were sure they had a permanent “ascendant majority” in terms of demographics on a national level, in which the US would become a “majority minority” nation comprised of the balkanised voting blocs that the Democrats had been cultivating and reinforcing since Bill Clinton and the DLC of the 1990’s.
As Thomas Frank explains in his latest book, Listen, Liberal, Democrats believed these demographic trends assured them of having and keeping control of the White House on into the future. As the country became more diverse, the Democratic strategy of playing #IdentityPolitics would mean that they could continue to keep their rich donors, Wall Street and corporate America happy while maintaining a lock on the Executive through their social justice and civil rights oriented campaigns.
This meant “giving up” on those cohorts of voters identified as the “white working class” along with unions and other “traditional” Democratic constituencies in favour of the Managerial/Professional Class (1%) and those voters for whom women’s, civil and racial justice issues eclipsed economic or populist issues.
When Hillary explained to her audience in India recently that she had won the voters that mattered (“moving forward”) while she basically insulted those “backward looking” racists and uneducated rubes in the red “flyover” states, she was not off-script, going rogue or speaking solely for herself. She was expressing what has been the Democratic Party’s philosophy, strategy and political ethos for the past three decades.
This article by Dan Balz (of whom I am not usually a fan but who did great work here) explains it all in the form of a warning he issued in late 2015.
With their motto of “Demographics as Destiny”, the Democrats planned to govern by controlling both the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch, as the judges would be appointed by Democratic Presidents, the POTUS could rule by Executive Orders that the SCOTUS would then defend against any challenges to the imperial power and government by decree that would be exercised by benevolently despotic Presidents like Obama.
The Congress would thus be ceded to the GOP but easily circumvented or overridden on most major issues affecting the new Democratic base (climate change, racial justice, abortion and LGBTQ rights). And what’s more, the Democrats were sure that economic populism would not be a factor because the unions, the working class, the poor and all the other “traditional” Democratic constituencies simply had nowhere else to go.
But then came Trump, with his faux-populism and his promises to bring back jobs, renegotiate NAFTA, pull out of the TPP, end the interventionist wars, enact universal healthcare “everyone is covered”, go after Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street fat cats (the Democratic donor base) and generally “drain the swamp” of Washington DC.
Over the past 30 years, the Democrats’ motto seems to have become: “live by the pen, die by the pen” — or better yet, “live by the EO, die by the EO.”
And right now we are dying.
Democrats are now the permanent Party of the Deep State
A big part of this “lock” on the Executive Branch meant that the Democrats would have control over all the there levers of power own the DC Establishment. The consultants, the lobbyists, the major monied interests would all have to come to court the favour of the “party in power”.
The result would be a sort of impenetrable, immovable and ultimately sclerotic permanent Ruling Class, based on DC and wielding extraordinary power over the entire country. The Democrats would thus become not just one of two or more parties, but essentially a sort of Brahman class, a permanent social stratum that ruled over Washington and the nation. In short, what was accomplished in California decades ago would be accomplished in DC: anyone who wanted to be a “power player” in national politics would have to become a Democrat, regardless of their actual political leanings, and would have to at least pay lip service to those neoliberal themes and Identity Politics memes that fuelled the party’s popularity.
Indeed, I fear this may have already happened, despite the election of Trump. I say “despite” because we are already witnessing the vicious blowback from the “establishment” and the so-called “Intel Community”, who have shown themselves to be 100% on the side of the Democrats (or at least the Obama/Clinton wing of the Party). If you follow the pronouncements, opinions and prognostications of the previous CIA chiefs, from Brennan backwards, they are all obviously in the Democrat camp, and some, such as Mike Morrell, were openly endorsing and cheerleading for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Likewise, all the FBI chiefs ( Comey, Mueller, McCabe, etc.) seem to be fully biased towards the Democrats. Clapper, Hayden and other spooks are also clearly in the Democratic camp now.
Another reason I fear it may be too late is the fact that so many ex CIA, NSA and Military Intelligence “veterans” are now running for office as Democrats. About 1 in 4 Democratic candidates in the 2018 cycle are part of this group of intelligence operatives, who have now actively chosen the Democratic Party as their preferred political vehicle.
This tells me that the ties between the Democratic Party and the so-called “Intelligence Community” are now very strong, to the point where the Democrats have become the Party of war, the party of covert actions and Great Power confrontations (witness the Democrats’ hawkishness on Russia, for example).
In short, the so-called “Deep State” is turning into the “Deep Blue State.”