Following the chaos surrounding last week’s Iowa caucus and the subsequent infighting among Democrats over the party’s direction, longtime Democratic strategist James Carville engaged in a rant on MSNBC Feb. 4 that wound up going viral. Carville’s beef, as it were, is largely with the overt nature of the party’s gravitation toward the left and its apparent inability to offer candidates and policies substantive enough to challenge President Trump in November.
While I’ve usually found Carville’s marginally coherent jabbering as more befitting an early hominid of some sort than a prominent political strategist, the fact remains that Carville is a prominent political strategist, so we’ll just go from there.
Carville’s outburst on MSNBC gave rise to a follow-up sit-down with one of the journalists on vox.com. Their exchanges were so telling with regard to the overall duplicity of Democratic strategy that I thought it would be eminently useful to deconstruct the interview here.
After inordinately playing up Democratic 2018 midterm election victories as an overarching mandate for Washington Democrats, Carville went on to lament the pathos of the Iowa caucus and how the Democrats seem to be desperately scrambling to find their voice. “[W]e’re losing our damn minds” is the most notable Carville quote pulled by news sources that picked up the profanity-laced interview.
The interviewer’s first question was probably the most illustrative of what I’m getting at, and it had to do with how Carville believes the Democratic presidential candidates have become “distracted.”
Carville replied, “We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments – talking about that is not how you win a national election.”
Leaving aside the fact that it most definitely does matter what one thinks about those policy initiatives and their relative viability, here Carville is essentially saying that Democratic presidential hopefuls should go out there and lie. His statement is merely a convoluted way of saying that the candidates shouldn’t be touting the policies and ideology of the hard left – even though that may be where they reside – because a majority of the electorate is opposed to such measures. Rather, they should sell themselves as whatever the prevailing political winds dictate, and then enact the hard-left policies when they get into office.
This is precisely what Barack Obama did. While some knew full well that Obama was a creature of the hard left, he sold himself as being no more of an ideologue than Bill Clinton. Once elected, he unilaterally governed against the will of the people.
Carville’s first answer also ties in to one of his statements from the MSNBC interview, in which he asserted that “[T]he urban core is not gonna get it done.”
In referencing an “urban core,” of course, Carville meant the far-left elites who hold political power in major urban areas and those who will vote for Democrats no matter what. Although these folks represent a distinct political minority, they nevertheless believe that they ought to be running the country. They make no secret of this, nor of their extreme disdain for those who exist outside of Democrat-controlled urban areas, as we’ve seen in spades over the last four years.
In addition to not believing that Bernie Sanders holds the requisite bona fides to run for president as a Democrat, Carville also clearly thinks that making Sanders the nominee will be suicide for the party, at least as far as the general election in November goes. Why? Well, obviously because Carville knows that Sanders represents a radical leftist archetype that remains highly unpalatable to most voters.
Although he’d never say so, Carville knows full well that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was a mandate against socialism and America’s tracking toward the hard left during the Obama years. Consequently, he knows that running Sanders, a guy who was a self-identified communist until he decided to run in 2016, is probably not the best strategy for Democrats.
“The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections.”
– James Carville
The meaning within this statement? If you want a left-wing revolution to which most of the population is opposed, don’t bother trying to win people over with your message; cultivate power by engaging others in the party regardless of their policy vision. Then, you can have your left-wing revolution by executive mandate once you’re in office.
Interestingly, Carville also told the interviewer that if Bernie Sanders did win the Democratic nomination, he would vote for him in November. Considering his admittedly low opinion of Sanders, this just translates into Carville being a fundamentally unprincipled guy.
Which is par for the course these days if you’re talking about Democrats, I suppose.
Article posted with permission from Erik Rush
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