Creepy. That was the post-debate word to describe former Senator Jim Webb’s performance in the Democratic Party’s presidential debate. His story about his wartime experience and killing a man was creepy to the left’s viewership. His stories barely drew applause or any positive reaction. Webb looked lost and sounded as if he didn’t belong. This was not because he was an old white man, as the stage was all white and multiple candidates were over Social Security’s full retirement age. The party had left him behind. It has left what he represented behind. Webb’s creepy, stranger-in-a-strange-land and lost performance–fits perfectly. He was a ghost of the Democrats’ past.
Webb has since pulled out of the race. He had no shot at the nomination, but his withdrawal reveals a truth about what the Democrats have become. The party’s demographics have become so diverse that a candidate must either be plugged into the Establishment’s money sources, which can afford to lay out the social welfare programs to secure minority support, or one must be a minority and/or a progressive capable of spouting off the latest fringe-left political talking points. A Democrat’s 51% general election winning voter bloc is made up of 40% of whites, 95% of blacks, 66% of Hispanics/Asians/Gays. Being of a minority group will help secure a piece of the fringe, so if you are not, you better have the cash or the far-left lunacy on your lips to cobble together a coalition.
Webb did not represent any of that. His performance reveals just how much the Democrats have changed.
American political parties represent interests, and beyond the large economic interests of the donor class, they represent small economic and social concerns of their foot soldiers and voting blocs. The progressives took over a political party that was the Solid South and big city machines. When contemporary conservatives wail about the Democrats being the party of the KKK, all they are doing is reminding you that once upon a time, the GOP was the party of radical social change and Democrats of social conservatism.
The Solid South was just the white economic power structure; party affiliation meant little to them. Modern conservatives miss the point that parties change who they represent, and at one time, the Democrats used the South and the working class white vote to win. They rode that city machine-Solid South combination to electoral victory throughout the 20th Century. Without the South, they lose in Wilson’s re-election in ’16, JFK’s ’60 election, and Carter’s win in ’76. Those rednecks and crackers that Jim Webb represents–with his military service and Scots-Irish roots–were the voting muscle that pulled the lever for Democrats time and again in the 1900s.
The 1976 election mattered as a multi-month theatrical production for saving the image of the Left. The Left had switched to catering to the nascent McGovern Coalition, but was trying to trick the rest of the nation into thinking that it had not junked the white union and working class yet. Jim Webb would have been at home. The 1976 Democratic National Convention had Ron Kovic, Marine, Vietnam vet, and purple heart recipient, speak of the trials and troubles of veterans. That convention famously staged the closing with Jimmy Carter onscreen in front of liberal George McGovern and Dixiecrat George Wallace holdings hands.
This was a massive optics rehabilitation after the back-to-back disastrous conventions of ’68 and ’72. With Dixiecrat support in elections, the progressive brain trust could mold the legal system through court nominations, create the regulatory infrastructure they wanted for control of our economy, and pad budgets to secure greater loyalty from business interests.
To steal a progressive media term, the Dixiecrats were problematic. The changes the far-left in the mid-20th Century wanted were being held up by a political system that granted power to these Dixiecrats who aligned often with Northern conservative politicians. The Port Huron statement by the SDS explicitly states this as a target to attack. Starting in the ’60s, the New Left attacked the Dixiecrats, while enabling the immigration onslaught at every turn.
Adding in immigration, the progressives simply replaced elastic white voters, who had questionable loyalty to progressive whims and new ideas, with more reliable foreigners that Democrats believed could be bought. Even in the 1990s, Democrats like Barbara Jordan wanted to see immigration curtailed and reformed to help lower-income white and black Americans. Nothing came of it. By then for the Left, it was too late. The decision to junk the working class and union whites who crossed the line to vote for Nixon (hardhats) in ’72 and then Reagan (Reagan Democrats) in ’80 and ’84 was set.
Webb must have missed the memo to change parties.
Webb is not the only ghost on the stage. He was joined by another: Senator Bernie Sanders, old school socialist, who spoke of policies from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Sanders forgot that those policies are rooted in nations with very large white majorities and unified cultures. But even now, time are changing in those nations because of Europe’s immigration policies. They are facing a decision: keep the welfare stare or keep the borders open.
Sanders has mentioned curtailing some immigration in America, but that puts him in opposition to the donor class’ interests. White progressives upset Obama did not live up to progressive expectations are already ambivalent on Clinton, but the donor class is not. Sanders may represent the socialist soul of the Democrats, but he cannot raise money from Establishment donors.
Sen. Sanders is openly socialist, and the party has drifted in his direction, but not exactly in the way he envisions socialism. Pay attention to his rally locations and the audiences. They are in Whitopian states, and the audiences are whiter than a Whole Foods on Saturday. Sanders message will fall flat with minorities who just want their cut of the economic redistribution pie. With the growing minority share in the American Left, how much of a future does environmentalism and civil liberties of any sort have on the Left? Minorities stopped Prop 8 in California. As their power grows, what white progressive pet causes get stomped in the mud? His party has become so diverse that the progressive economic message has been squeezed by corporate interests above and by the need to placate the diverse voter bloc screaming for “gimmedats” below.
While Sanders’ problem of there not being enough white progressives on their own to overcome an Establishment candidate like Clinton is a harsh reality of the Left’s voter coalition, Webb’s problem is far more troublesome. The disconnect between a veteran sharing his experiences and an entire voter bloc reveals the separation the Left has made with our military. The silence for Webb when he mentioned our military shows the deep fissure between the Left’s base and martial values, and the spirit of what it takes to keep the barbarians at bay.
Rotherham should be all that is needed to know that the Western Left will sell natives out to the barbarians for ideological reasons. The anti-war posturing is repulsive when one considers how it has been the Left in charge, nominally, of foreign policy and the military for the last seven years. The stupidity of Marie Harf saying ISIS could be defeated with jobs and memes is not a stand-alone, out of touch elite problem. The Left has forgotten that, sometimes, one needs to fight. Who will fight for them?
Webb and Sanders will walk away and melt into the presidential mists. Webb’s one “creepy” line will be a joke for a late night comedy cycle, and some whites will wax nostalgic for Sanders in time, “oh gosh, if only he’d beaten Hillary, the socialist utopia would have been here.” The Big Business puppets will continue their spot in the circus, just now in a Hispanic or black form. Empty suits like Barack Obama, Julian Castro, and Cory Booker, who can string along some talking points and read off teleprompters, are the future of the Left.
The speed of the change should be a cause for alarm for those white progressives and white working class voters who make up the 40% of whites still voting Democrat. Webb was elected to the Senate in 2006. Ten years later, he is no longer welcome in his party. Of the 40% of whites that vote Democrat, how many of them will recognize that their hopes for a Sanders or Webb type are never coming true? Where will they turn? How soon do they rebel against a system that has turned them, not just their political symbols, into ghosts?