by Joaquin Flores, Strategic Culture:
The wildest single phenomenon as we come close to a clearer picture of the Democratic Party’s election strategy for 2020, is that there really isn’t a single candidate that the party has been able to coalesce around. And without this, it would appear difficult to see whether the Democrats intend to focus their strategy on flipping the Rust Belt or the Sun Belt states blue. The truth is that this really isn’t their strategy at all. It’s their strategy to talk about these strategies. But what they will rely on instead is something far more dark and sinister – something we’ve already seen and felt the ramifications of, and something every vigilant citizen needs to focus their primary concerns on.
What strategy won’t work for Democrats? The one they’ve been trying since Trump won.
Most of the chatter we’ve seen so far tends to focus on that question, Rust Belt or Sun Belt (or both), and then which set of policies should the party focus on, and then naturally who will be the candidate to deliver the victory on that platform.
It’s well understood how misleading it is to look at the wide margin at the level of the Electoral College that saw Trump’s sweep. In the real battle-ground states, his victory was in some cases incredibly slim. If three or four of those states had gone for Clinton, then we’d be in a very different electoral reality today. So it goes without saying that Democrats think that they only need to keep all the states they won in 2016, and ‘simply’ (oh, it will not be simple!) flip three or four swing states.
This is very ‘by the books’ and old-model thinking however, and it’s precisely this lack of imagination that saw Democrats lose in 2016. They ran a top-down campaign, not realizing that we live in a post-modern electoral paradigm, where voters are less motivated in ways that can even be broken down by states, state politics, or state interests in the old sense. Yes, mid-term elections tell us something, but this translates less and less so to national politics. We are moving away from the swing-state, and towards the swing-individual.
The internet, at the risk of being extraordinarily cliché, keeps changing the rules. But it’s true. While state secession sentiments actually grow, politics itself has become increasingly national-oriented and also broader in scope – that is to say, paradigmatic.
Trump’s people brilliantly understood that something more was needed in addition to the standard stitching together the standard Republican big tent coalition of anti-Coastal fly-over country America, Christian Zionists and evangelicals, with small-government, low tax business conservatives.
They understood that there had to be a bigger story, a grand narrative, an entire paradigm. Something that would penetrate Reddit and 4Chan, and go full-on memetic. Tropes like the ‘Rising Chinese Menace’, ‘Pizza Gate’, the unappreciated and ‘politically incorrect White Man’, and even some Ron Paul related tropes related to currency ‘metal heads’ and the Fed – these came together to give his campaign some meaning, and meaning is what motivates the grass roots in the digital era.
Not ‘policies’ in the mundane think-tank, policy wonk sense of the term. No, not at all. If Occupy Wall Street taught us anything, is that what has radicalized people is not this or that policy – even though polling people by policy will naturally (obviously) produce policy-edible results – but instead people are radicalized by the much larger questions of our time.
And Democrats keep referring to these, because as an institutional machine, this is what it’s built on, this is the essence of its bureaucratic inertia, and where the relationships exist.
Democrats will have to use the institutions and machines they have built, not the ones they should have been building and haven’t.
What strategy will Democrats try?
In contrast to this paradigmatic approach which is required to win, Democrats seem to be stuck in trying to simulate grass roots, through the older model of ‘grass roots organizations’, a series of endorsements by way of Astro-turfing, and relying on the mobilization of students at the orders of professors and teachers, and of organized labor by order of the shop steward and internal organizer, following the SEIU model that saw Obama elected in swing-states states like Colorado.
But as Democrats have switched posture to being a pro-war party, they are seriously going to be lacking in the activism of the anti-war constituency, a constituency which may indeed view Trump at least neutrally. And trying to switch the anti-war elements of the most progressive, leftist wing of the party and the ‘left of the party adjacent’, into a pro-war party of xenophobic pogromist, neo-McCarthyite Russophobic minions, would seem to be a Herculean task. That is, of course, if those elements still have internet access. And herein lies the rub.
Democrats are going to have to rely on the most sinister and anti-democratic strategy, one that threatens democracy itself
The very sick and sad reality is that Democrats are working directly with the internet tech and platform giants, Google-Adsense, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, to broaden the scope of censorship, to shut down websites, to deplatform, demonetize, and derank thousands of YouTube vloggers, even big ones, and shadow-ban countless tens, even hundreds of thousands more.
They are creating an ever-more walled garden, a fake internet, the very thing American Sinophones have been accusing the Chinese of doing. And strangely, the average Chinese appears to be more plugged into the inner-workings of American life and politics than the other way around – so much for censorship.
This is the single-most winning component of their strategy. Democrats have an institutional machine that cannot win using the internet as it had evolved until around 2016 – the war now has been a war against the internet and its denizens themselves, against online activism which challenges the status quo – even if its anti-Trump on issues of war and imperialism, since the Democrats themselves promise at least as much if not more.
If the Democrats cannot beat the internet, they will destroy it. And destroying it they have been doing.
While censorship strategy this is the main idea for their campaign – to silence the genuine progressives and socialists in their own party, and to double-down on censoring the broadly paradigmatic elements of Trump’s organic and grass-roots base – they will need to plaster on some kind of plausible pseudo-strategy to get them from here to there. And as we have seen, there isn’t really a candidate. Democrats are lacking in anyone that has anything to say, because the Democrats aren’t looking forward, they are trying to turn the clock backwards to reproduce a political geography that existed twelve years ago as Obama-esque tropes gained ascendency. To do this means to erase the real-existing internet, under the rubric of a war against ‘fake news’, and ‘alternate facts’. Only here can they win, using a victory by the numbers, not winning the battle of ideas.
This time around, their push-polling and fake-polling might work. This is the plan that aims to get their candidate to win by claiming that their candidate is winning, in all the news online or TV that you’d ever have a chance to see. They thereby win low-cognitive undecideds who want to vote for the projected winner, for low-cognitive and base-emotional reasons at the level of the amygdala, as was their plan in 2016. This plan would have worked except for the digital democracy of paradigmatic proportions, the one that Trump so masterfully mobilized, and so it is clear and obvious that Democrats aim to win by erasing digital freedoms, since the 1st amendment questions haven’t been properly sorted in the digital era. The big tech and platform firms are private agencies, have their own bizarre and discriminatory TOS’s, and have been censoring and deplatforming anyone who sniffs of paradigm.