Drew Magary, late of Deadspin, wrote a thing in Medium, mostly trashing Pete Buttigieg. I don’t agree with every criticism Magary makes of Buttigieg, but these lines about the case Buttigieg and others make for bipartisan unity jumped out at me:
Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it.
Will we ever again have the sort of America where Democrats and Republicans have civil disagreements over tax rates and the scope of the social safety net? I honestly don’t know. It’s not impossible, but I believe it will take the utter defeat and rebuilding of the Republican Party before we get there.
It’s sort of like how the Western allies from WW2 were able to establish ties with post war-Germany and Japan. We stomped the fascism out of them first, at great cost on all sides. Then they rejoined the family of democratic nations.
You can quibble with HOW we defeated them, and I’d agree with some of those quibbles. But engineering their utter defeat was necessary. We can’t skip that step with the Republican Party. Anyone who says we can is lying to you.
Now, I suspect Mayor Pete, Joe Biden and other pols who say we can move forward as a nation past the Trump era by entering some mythical state of unity are just angling to peel off the unaffiliated. Maybe they sincerely don’t believe we can engineer Republicans’ utter defeat without winning a conventional-style election and then incrementally shoring democratic institutions up to withstand the next onslaught from a Republican demagogue.
Could they be correct? It took decades for the Republican Party to become the type of organization that rallies around an openly corrupt, leering, sneering, lawless, incompetent demagogue, and maybe it’ll take years to walk its rank-and-file back. I don’t think it works that way, though. I think we’re better off being post post-partisan and asking the swing voters who decide elections to pick a goddamned side.
People who voted for Trump to “shake things up” or out of economic anxiety exist, IMO, but not in the numbers pundits assume, and in any case, Democrats have no responsibility to offer them absolution for supporting a racist, sexist xenophobe, and I’m not convinced there’s anything to be gained from doing so.
Coddling those voters is an insult to the people harmed by Trump in a thousand different ways, so while paying occasional lip service to bipartisanship is one thing, making “unity” a central feature of a 2020 campaign misses the moment. Trump voters can choose to help defeat Trump this go-round or continue supporting him. That’s the choice, and the sooner we find out how large our plurality of fascists is, the clearer our future as a nation will be.