an obession with first principles

The Democratic Id: Then and Now

Posted: Saturday Dec 22nd | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Politics | View Comments

The Lady and I have been watching the Vietnam documentary by Ken Burns, and I was absolutely struck by something about LBJ’s attitude and outlook on the war. It matched, precisely, the leadership of the democratic party during the 2016 election. Let me explain what I saw

In 1968, with nearly half a million American soldiers in Vietnam, the party line coming out LBJ’s democratic administration was: “We are winning.” And if you looked at just the numbers of casualties, after you un-doctored them, maybe you were. His leadership team could not imagine they were not winning. That things were not improving. That the war would have to be over soon. That the enemy would capitulate and come to the bargaining table for peace. LBJ and his military advisors would tell the American people that by now we must have depleted half of the NVA and NLF(VC) forces. And their will to continue fighting was nearly spent. And then the Tet Offensive came. The Tet Offensive was actually a much worse loss for the NVA and VC than any fighting previously. They came out the jungles and into the cities. They no longer had the advantage of the knowledge of terrain where the US troops were entirely outclassed. Their losses were staggering. The documentary made a prescient political point; when you’ve been telling the people you’ve been winning and the end is near, and then the enemy unleashes an 80,000 strong force across the entire territory of South Vietnam (quite literally, they were hitting Saigon, Danang, the eastern shore line, as well as south of Saigon). Your citizens now know you are entirely full of shit.

The democratic party Id cannot see evidence that suggests the world is not operating as they believe and want it to. They refused to believe that body counts were inflated; they were. They refused to believe the enemy had a much stronger will to fight. They refused to believe their win conditions were valid (I’ve watched over half of the documentary, and its still not entirely clear to me what their win conditions actually were–besides killing as many people as possible).

I found this attitude to be a perfect comparison to the democratic leadership involved in the Clinton campaign in 2016. There were two main populist candidates in the two year campaign; Sanders, and Trump. Both insisted that the status quo was not a sustainable option. No other GOP candidate had found a clear message (other than an anti-democrat, anti-Obama message), and thus all faded away. Meanwhile, in the face of incredible mounting evidence on so many fronts the Clinton campaigned, quite firmly, on the notion that America, today, is doing great, does not need to be made great, because its already working incredibly well.

No evidence of inequality, no evidence of health disparities, no evidence of racial disparities, no evidence whatsoever could dislodge their central claim. Reading Clinton’s day-after reaction, as well as the campaign’s confidence in the week before the election is further evidence that no facts can pierce their Id.

If I could distill what I think that Id is it would be: when we are in charge, whatever happens is linear progress. Nothing bad happens on our watch. If it happened we’re going to find a way to say it was planned, and it was good. Even if it was tragic it was a sacrifice for the greater good.