When people sneeringly say McAuliffe is a deal-maker, I say: oh, if we only had one in Washington," Clinton told a cheering crowd of supporters in Norfolk, Virginia.Bill Clinton's point is reported to be his frustration that the Obama administration doesn't reach across the aisle and compromise more with the Republicans. Seriously. In the immediate aftermath of Obama standing tall, forcing the Republicans to back away from unprecedented brinksmanship and suffer a huge hit in the polls, Clinton is calling for more cowbell? It's as if Clinton has slept through the past two decades, as the Republicans have decisively moved even more to the extreme teabag fringe, trying to extort or bully their way to policy victory, while gerrymandering their way to their only form of national electoral victory. With the Republicans on the verge of a very uncivil internecine war, all the Koch's money and all the Koch's men can't put them back together again, but Bill Clinton's strategy of building a bridge backward to the 20th century possibly can.
"The constitution might as well be subtitled the art of the deal," he added. "It is exhausting seeing politicians wasting time with all these heated arguments when people need jobs."
"Our founding fathers wanted us to be practical," added Clinton on Monday. "They had huge arguments but they settled on a system that prevented us from becoming too radical in either direction and forced us to deal with each other."More from our founding fathers, and Bill Clinton, below the fold.
Our founding fathers wanted to preserve their privileges. As legendary historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in his seminal work:
Cribbing and confining the popular spirit that had been at large since 1776 were essential to the purposes of the new Constitution. Edmund Randolph, saying to the Convention that the evils from which the country suffered originated in “the turbulence and follies of democracy,” and that the great danger lay in the “democratic parts of our constitutions”; Elbridge Gerry, speaking of democracy as “the worst of all political evils”; Roger Sherman, hoping that “the people....have as little to do as may be about the government”; William Livingston, saying that “the people have ever been and ever will be unfit to retain the exercise of power in their own hands”; George Washington, the presiding officer, urging the delegates not to produce a document of which they themselves could not approve simply in order to “please the people”; Hamilton, charging that the “turbulent and changing” masses “seldom judge or determine right” and advising a permanent governmental body to “check the imprudence of democracy”; the wealthy young planter Charles Pinckney, proposing that no one be president who was not worth at least one hundred thousand dollars----all these were quite representative of the spirit in which the problems of government were treated.In fact, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were monarchists, and Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, which if not killed by the 1800 election would have destroyed this republic in its infancy. George Washington supported the acts. And Clinton shouldn't need to be reminded that the Founders' "system that prevented us from becoming too radical" included slavery, and made inevitable a Civil War that killed more than 600,000 people. That's practicality for you.
Democratic ideas are most likely to take root among discontented and oppressed classes, rising middle classes, or perhaps some sections of an old, alienated, partially disinherited aristocracy, but they do not appeal to a privileged class that is still amplifying its privileges.
The reality is that modern Republicans aren't open to negotiation or compromise. Clinton is correct when he says the American people want less arguments and more jobs, but while the Republican House has voted more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare, it hasn't once voted on a jobs bill. The only way to stop the politics of confrontation and create more jobs is to stop the Republicans, once and for all. Republicans want to end Obamacare, not make it better. They want to repeal Roe v. Wade. Not only do they not want to do anything about climate change, they don't even acknowledge it exists. They want to roll back civil rights and voting rights, eviscerate consumer and labor protections, slash taxes on the wealthiest and slash all help for those in need, and generally move the country back to the age of the robber barons, spicing it all with a fulsome dose of theocracy. Republicans are not interested in making deals, they want only to impose their will; but with their recent confrontations leaving Republicans in a polling freefall, President Obama's numbers have held within the margins of error.
Modern Americans love someone who fights the extremists. This is an increasingly progressive nation, and on a host of issues the electorate is well ahead of the Democrats. In the aftermath of the latest Republican concocted political crisis, the polls show that even despite their aggressive gerrymandering and a very tough 2014 Senate map, the Republicans could take a beating in next year's elections, while 2016 could be the Republicans' death knell. That won't happen by appeasing the Republican crazy. It will happen by standing on liberal and progressive principles.
If Hillary Clinton wants to lead the Democrats to historic triumphs in 2016 and beyond, she is going to have to ignore her husband's advice. Bill Clinton may have been a politically astute man of his time, but by the morning of the 2017 inauguration, his inauguration will have been almost a quarter century in the past. He might not realize it, but in that time much has changed. The Republicans now occupy the extreme right margins, while the country has moved steadily to the left. Democrats will prevail not by attempting to reach the unreachable but by following where the American people are leading. When campaigning for his own presidency, Bill Clinton talked a lot about building a bridge to the 21st century. With the world now more than a decade into that new century, it's time to burn that bridge to the political past and fearlessly press forward into a more progressive, more popular, and all around better future.