Commentary: Welcome to McCarthyism 2.0

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Welcome to McCarthyism 2.0. 

McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist were all a reaction to the Cold War—the key word being "war." They were responses — widely agreed to be bad ones — to the threat from an existential enemy of American democracy.

Today, it's time for a new war. At least that's the view of some on the Left.  Techworld liberal Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixieira of the leftwing think tank Center for American Progress have begun calling for "Democratic One-Party Rule" in the U.S. as a solution to America's political challenges and a way to enact the progressive agenda.

In a piece entitled The Great Lesson of California in America's New Civil War, they write "There's no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win. And, not surprisingly, they want the winning side to be Democrats.

One problem: Democrats are currently at a low point in electoral politics. Republicans control the White House, the Congress and — after Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by the senate's GOP majority — conservative justices will outnumber liberals on the Supreme Court.

Only eight states in the U.S. are under full Democratic control, while the GOP dominates in 26 and holds 33 governorships, including in deep-blue enclaves like Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont.

If their many election victories since Trump's inauguration are any indication, those numbers are almost certain to change in Democrats' favor after the upcoming midterm elections. But even as the most optimistic projections give Democrats control of the House of Representatives, it's all but certain Democrats will still be a minority party in the U.S. Senate and in a majority of state governments in 2019.

What then? Freud offers the theory called the narcissism of small differences: People the most familiar and closely aligned tend to turn on each other, rather than join together and turn outward toward their mutual enemies.  If you're a Monty Python fan, think "Judean People's Front" vs. the "People's Front of Judea" in the movie "Life of Brian."

If you're a Twitter fan, check out the timeline of former aide to Hillary Clinton and Sen. Chuck Schumer, Brian Fallon: "Progressives should keep a list of names of the sellouts at Yale and elsewhere who are right now trying to smooth a path for the overturning of Roe and gutting of the New Deal. They should be unwelcome in future Democratic administrations."

If this sounds eerily like President Nixon's infamous "enemies list," you're onto something.  How can the –let's call them the True Party Of The Left (as opposed, say, to the "Party Of The True Left?") -- succeed in crushing Republicans and imposing one-party rule with so many "sellouts" among their members?

And so the defeat of lifelong liberal Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley is celebrated as a great victory.  Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described socialist who supports extreme (and unpopular) policies like #AbolishICE is described by the head of the DNC as the "future of our party."  A recent ABC News report highlighted a number of "progressive candidates who could be the 'next Oscasio-Cortez'."  These aren't liberals knocking off conservative-leaning "Blue Dog Democrats," but rather candidates in Democratic bastions like Massachusetts and Delaware challenging loyal liberals from the Left.

As one of these candidates, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts put it: "In deep blue districts like New York's 14th and the Massachusetts 7th, voters are asking for more than a reliable vote - they are asking for committed, activist leadership."

In California, liberal stalwart Sen. Dianne Feinstein dominated in the state's recent primary, but the California Democratic Party endorsed her opponent, liberal activist Kevin de León, the Democratic leader in California's State Senate.  

Feinstein's fellow Californian Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, is persona non grata to many Democratic campaigns this primary season. In a race for an open House seat in New Hampshire, only one of the 11 Democrats in the race of publicly pledged to back Pelosi for a potential speakership after the midterms.

In a Democratic Party that's to the Left of Feinstein, Crowley and Pelosi, there's not a lot of room for bipartisanship. This is a new phenomenon in American politics. Presidents going back to Jimmy Carter all had at least one token member of the opposing party in their Cabinets. This bipartisanship was widely praised.  Today if a Democratic U.S. senator admits that Judge Kavanaugh is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court (a nearly indisputable fact), he or she will wind up on "The List."

If these are the rules, how will our democracy work? Until we become a 70-30 nation, there are always going to be political divisions that can only be bridged by bipartisanship. How can America be governed if the Left insists on burning that bridge?

Consider what's happened to Supreme Court confirmation votes.  As recently as 2005, nominees like Ruth Bader Ginsburg (41 Republicans backed her) and John Roberts (22 Democrats) were confirmed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. But those margins have been steadily shrinking as both sides blatantly inserted partisan politics into the nomination process.

Should the Republicans who voted for Obama's SCOTUS picks (Sotomayor and Kagan) have been drummed out of the GOP? Or did they do the right thing by following precedent and confirming a qualified nominee with whom they disagreed?

Leyden and Teixeira and their fellow travelers have no patience for this bipartisanship. "This is no ordinary political moment. Trump is not the reason this is no ordinary time — he's simply the most obvious symptom that reminds us all of this each day," they write.

And this unusual time, more and more Democrats have concluded, demands unusual actions: Rousting political enemies from restaurants, protesting them (and their families) at their homes, banishing their political views from the college campuses and public debates.  The only solution is the ultimate one: Total political destruction of the Right. The Left must win—and win big—until all of America looks like California.

Thus you get banishment (You can't eat here!) and "enemies lists" and in the worst cases, political violence.

What you don't get is a solution. When you declare your political opponents "the enemy"—as opposed to your fellow Americans with whom you disagree—there can't be democracy. Eventually there's only victory, and because every election cycle presents a threat to that victory, political power will be used to maintain that victory.

That was life in places like the old Soviet Union and in the current Venezuela (just to name two). Is that really want progressive Democrats want for America?

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