NOTE TO READERS: In this two-part series, “Fighting the McResistance – for Climate’s Sake,” I make the most compelling argument that Democrats’ shallow, astroturf “McResistance” to Trump must be overthrown by a grassroots, anti-duopoly Occupy-style movement. Namely, that the likely alternative is climate Armageddon. This article is Part 1. Part 2 will be titled “Climate Judases: The Three Ways Democrats Betray Climate.”
Trump’s extremist regime: Grave crisis – and golden opportunity
In a recent, widely read article, I argued that any meaningful resistance to Donald Trump must take the form of a new, anti-duopoly Occupy-style movement. Given the gargantuan opportunity we now share – and the virtually certain catastrophe we’ll face if we blow that opportunity – the case that article makes needs to reach as wide an activist audience as possible. By an activist audience, I mean precisely the sort of progressive opinion leaders and political organizers who can form coalitions and bring an Occupy-style “movement of movements” into existence.
Without such a movement, we’ll simply we see the triumph of Democrats’ utterly shallow, astroturf McResistance – a triumph that, unbeknownst to most (deliberately misinformed) U.S. citizens, could ultimately plunge humanity back into a new Stone Age. Provided, of course, humanity is lucky enough to survive climate Armageddon at all. For too long (as I’ll argue in this article), Democrats have gotten away with playing Good Cop to Republican’s increasingly nasty Bad Cop – to the extent voters have grown impatient with playing Democrats’ patsy and the Good Cop’s cover is almost blown. We must now fight the McResistance by totally blowing the Good Cop’s cover – exposing him as Judas – because allowing Democrats to pose as “Good Cop” on climate poses risks that are simply intolerable.
Democrats’ “Climate Denial Lite” may look good to voters compared to Republicans’ criminally insane climate change denial – especially since it’s reassuring and utterly painless in terms of lifestyle changes. But, as my next article will argue, it has itself been insanely inadequate when measured by the yardstick of actual climate science, and can only become more so after the ravages worked on climate by Trump administration barbarity. On the climate issue, where Democrats’ temptation to play Good Cop to Republican’s Bad Cop is obviously greatest, the Judas-like treachery implicit in the very role of Good Cop is at its most incalculably dangerous. As in flirting with Armageddon.
McResistance as deliberate misdiagnosis – of political cancer
As Chris Hedges rightly and compellingly argues, Trump is not our political disease but merely a symptom of it. Of what disease, precisely? In Hedges’ own words, of “neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy” and that “will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump.”
But if Donald Trump, dangerous as he is, is merely a symptom, he offers the advantage of being a glaring one – rather like the unsightly, undeniable tumor that forces a reluctant patient to go seek a diagnosis of cancer. Being as afflicted with the cancer of “neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy” as much as Trump Republicans, Democrats’ McResistance is essentially the reaction of a patient in denial about his own cancer, insistent on persuading everyone in sight that once the unsightly tumor (Trump and his party) is removed, everything will be hunky-dory. Of course, the ever-increasing number of us aware of metastasizing cancer – corruption of both major parties by “neoliberal, corporate forces” – know it will not. Accurate diagnosis is essential to cure, and the McResistance is an exercise in deliberate misdiagnosis.
A systemic diagnosis: The duopoly cancer on our body politic
Of course, every analogy or comparison is limited, and the one treating the Democratic Party as a patient in denial about his own cancer is no exception. For example, Democrats’ denial of their party’s metastasizing cancer, while certainly harmful to the “patient” himself (consider the 14 million+ people who’ve left the party since the last election), does grievous damage to people outside the party – even to independents, third-party supporters, or nonvoters who want nothing to do with Democrats. In what’s, unfortunately, a two-party system (a duopoly), both major parties are now more comparable to cancerous body organs – to cancers on the “body politic” – than they are to a cancerous human individual in denial. The metastasizing cancer in both parties is a lethal threat to the body politic itself, at least if a healthy body politic involves people’s democratic control over major decisions that affect their lives. And above all, their collective ability to deal with major emergencies like climate change.
If we think of the Democratic Party as a cancerous individual in denial at all, it’s only to emphasize the party’s deliberate misdiagnosis of our body politic’s ills. It’s as if a cancerous body organ had that the ability to deceive the brain – and hence the body’s own defenses – via propaganda into embracing the cancer that will spell the entire body’s own death. Outside the Democratic Party’s propaganda effort to deny its own lethal cancer (the propaganda effort we’re scorning as the “McResistance”), the proper diagnosis of cancerous duopoly politics is a systems approach where we focus on the unique deadly role each party plays in destroying our body politic – and our ability to address our climate emergency along with it. While those roles are certainly different, they’re also mutually reinforcing.
Following the deeply insightful analysis by Max Mastellone cited above, the mutually reinforcing role of Democrats and Republicans in destroying our body politic is best viewed as a “Good Cop, Bad Cop” relationship. The next section will argue that Mastellone’s brilliant model reinforces my view of Democrats as the party of betrayal – “the party of Judas” – the exact terms in which a grassroots anti-duopoly resistance movement should fight Democrats’ astroturf McResistance.
“Good Cop, Bad Cop” – and Democrats as the party of Judas
Not wishing to waste space summarizing, I strongly urge my audience to read for themselves the Max Mastellone article just cited, one of the most empowering political analyses in recent memory. What sets its apart – what makes it so empowering – is that Mastellone cites U.S. citizens’ willingness to take our corrupt Democratic Party at its own “Good Cop” word as the predominant source of their own learned helplessness. Yes, a gazillion times yes!: Mastellone has this nailed. The McResistance is yet another Democratic Party attempt – utterly pathetic except for the prospect of its being effective – of that betraying party trying, like the proverbial Good Cop, to convince us it is our friend. Our only real hope of empowerment and resistance lies in proactively asserting – as in The Who’s classic rock anthem – that we “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Our proactive assertion must take the form of a large grassroots anti-duopoly movement intent on crushing the “Good Cop” propaganda of the McResistance.
Any fan of TV cop shows knows the key to understanding the “Good Cop, Bad Cop” game likes in realizing both cops, good and bad, work for the same police employers; they both, like the police they work for, do not have the best interest of the suspect they’re interrogating at heart. In the case of the Bad Cop, that’s obvious, which makes the Bad Cop an effective symbol for today’s heartless Republican Party. But the role of the Good Cop lies in concealing whom she works for; it consists of gaining the suspect’s trusts by appearing, as much as possible, to be the subject’s friend. Sometimes this may consist in offering juicy deals; sometimes it consists in emphasizing how seriously bad the Bad Cop is, offering oneself as the only shelter from the Bad Cop’s wrath.
It’s especially telling how today’s “Good Cop” Democrats, increasingly unable to fake sincerity in offering their poor, working class, and progressive base “juicy deals,” have resorted almost exclusively to emphasizing the dangerous badness of “Bad Cop” Republicans. This approach marked Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign against Donald Trump, and has continued to mark establishment Democrats’ McResistance. Having lost their ability even to fake being friends to progressives, the working class, and the poor, Democrats’ “Good Cop” role has been reduced almost exclusively to unsmiling extortion of votes (as the only alternative to the atrocious bad cop) – hardly a recipe for gaining voters’ liking or trust. Which, in last year’s election, proved a major problem for Hillary Clinton and down-ticket Democrats.
Democrats’ increasing failure to pull off the “Good Cop” role – a failure reflected in the McResistance’s obsessive focus on Trump rather than reform – suggests grassroots activist’s optimal strategy for defeating the McResistance. With the Good Cop’s “I’m your friend” cover already substantially blown, why not hammer a message focused on blowing it altogether? For betrayal is virtually the Good Cop’s job description, so why not focus on the Democratic Party’s long recent history of betrayal? Why not, indeed, focus especially on the Democratic Party’s ultimate case of betrayal: the Democratic National Committee’s underpublicized assertion of a legal right to betray the party’s voting base, letting party bosses pick candidates despite the lying claims of neutrality in the DNC charter. And why not personify that betrayal by identifying Democrats as the “Judas party” – associating them with the figure whose name has become a synonym for betrayal throughout the Western world?
Undeniably, confronting Democrats with their betraying, ethically indefensible legal argument as specifically a “Judas argument” is powerful stuff – probably powerful enough to destroy the credibility of the McResistance. And possibly even forceful enough to launch a new, anti-duopoly Occupy movement.
A call to arms
While there’s huge political hay to be made by publicly confronting Democrats with their official legal embrace of Judas-like betrayal, that’s hardly the most dangerous instance of Democrats betraying both their voter base and their moral responsibilities.
That most dangerous case is clearly Democrats’ betrayal of effective climate action – the reason the McResistance itself should be considered an “existential threat” to climate. While the DNC’s “Judas argument” supplies grassroots activists the method by which we defeat the McResistance, Democrats’ morally indefensible betrayals on climate provide our most urgent motive for doing so. For the triumph of neoliberal Democrats’ McResistance virtual guarantees the destruction of a humanly livable climate.
In my second and final article of this series, I’ll spell out in detail the three specific ways in which Democrats’ “Good Cop” climate stance and policies amount to a Judas-level betrayal of needed climate action. In the meantime, please consider joining Progressive or Bust, the only political organization I know of specifically devoted to overthrowing the McResistance.