Since dirt, there has been a struggle for the heart of America when it comes to the Progressive movement. Just about twice century or so, the stars align just right and the Progressive movement pops out of a long-dormant state and pushes through a huge amount of much needed change.
The weird thing is, you could make the case that the rise of Trumplandia is a sign that maybe the Progressive movement may be about to have it’s time in the sun again. The issue is Donald Trump obvious tapped into a populist rage. A smart politician, one with some vision, could use the populist rage of Trumplandia as a stepping off point to energize the Populist movement.
Of course, it there wouldn’t be a straight line. You would need leadership and vision. Right now, you have the Democratic Establishment, which is pretty much the bastion of the “Third Way” vision of Hillary Clinton and the base The Resistance which is much more in tune with the social democratic vision of Bernie Sanders.
But it’s pretty obvious that there’s a close correlation between the populist rage of Trumplandia and the near constant Progressive outrage of The Resistance. There is a possible opportunity to transform Trumplandia from its current bigoted, racist, misogynist decaying corpse and turn it into a vibrant Progressive base.
It would take leadership to do that because there are so many wedge issues that Trump uses to divide the populace that might otherwise have things in common that don’t fit the obvious Left-Right divide. The issue is, The Resistance has to stop simply being outraged all the time and figure out a way to engage Trumplandia in a constructive manner.
All of this is very complex and fraught with peril because you might tear the Democratic Party asunder in such a way that Trump easily walks to reelection in 2020. One problem is we have to deal with Trump’s surreal Being There ability to succeed politically despite himself.
While it is very much likely that we’ll reach a moment of outrage burn out, but if we can find the right leadership then maybe that energy won’t burn out, but rather will grow in power. Of all the leaders I think could maybe ride the nascent growth of a Progressive movement as part of The Resistance, Jon Stewart seems like the perfect person to do it.
Though it seems like a joke, Jon Stewart has the perfect skill set to be a major leader in The Resistance. As anyone can tell you, the only person who stands up to a middle school bully is the class clown. Jon Stewart is great at articulating a vision and we need to take a serious look at him as a candidate. I’d like to think he’d run for governor of New Jersey, but I’d give him a pass and let him run for president right away if that’s what I had to do to get him to stop petting rescue animals at a zoo.
If the rise of Trump and Trumplandia has taught us anything, it’s that the Great Man theory of history is now something we really need to start to think about again. So, maybe Jon Stewart has significantly more power in his hands than he realizes. Of all the Progressive leaders out there such as Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren, it seems only Jon Stewart has just the right touch to, through effective leadership, bring the goals of the Progressive moment to the fore again.
The reason I say this is because though Sen. Franken is an entertainer like Stewart, he doesn’t seem to have the passion for the Progressive movement that the younger Stewart has. Warren faces the same misogyny that Hillary Clinton faced, so the forces against her as an effective Progressive candidate are even stronger than they would be otherwise.
So it seems Jon Stewart might be the person to pull what I suggest off.
But this begs the obvious question — is it actually even possible for even an effective leader to bring Trumplandia to its senses. The power, the sway that Trump seems to have over Trumplandia is so astonishing that something truly extraordinary may have to happen for them to stop seeing him as some sort of Dear Leader figure.
Things like automation and AI could pose a serious threat to the economy of the Western World and as such, if the Progressive movement is ahead of the curve, maybe, just maybe, these titanic forces may cause Trumplandia to evolve into a base not for the bizarre Trump, but for the more logical and reality-based world of the Progressive movement and Jon Stewart.
We live in extraordinary times and it seems as though anything is possible right now. So, it’s possible that in 2020 there could actually be a way for the Progressive faction of The Resistance to gain the upper hand. And, yet, it’s also possible that we’re no longer a democracy but rather a “managed democracy” like is found in Russia. If that’s the case, then no matter of engagement on the part of the Democratic base will make much difference, sorry to say.
Things like “dark money,” gerrymandering and active voter suppression may mean that the will of the people will be stymied to such an extent that we really will be left with only civil society to defend us from autocracy. If that’s the case, may God have mercy on our souls.
Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.