Democrats Haven’t Turned Back From 1968

The politics of identity and attack have supplanted the old liberal tradition, which favored national unity.

The next big change came in 1992 with the nomination and election of Bill Clinton. His moderate platform was similar to his peers’, but his political style was a departure. The concept of a permanent campaign came to the White House. Every move was measured against its short-term political value to the president. The Clinton team launched personal attacks against policy dissenters and against women who brought charges of sexual misconduct against the president. In 1996, Mr. Clinton accused Republican nominee Bob Dole of “trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare” through his support of a bipartisan entitlement-reform effort Mr. Clinton himself had previously praised. By 2001, when Mr. Clinton left the scene, say-anything attack politics had become the normal order of the day in the Democratic Party.

President Obama brought hope of a more tolerant, less deeply partisan politics. But he was surrounded by Clinton alumni who, for the most part, kept on as before. His signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was introduced and passed only by Democrats—a sharp contrast to the bipartisan approaches taken by Johnson with his Medicare and Medicaid proposals, and by Ted Kennedy with his Medicare prescription-drug legislation. To pass ObamaCare, the White House and its allies launched a full-court press against all House Democrats, including moderates with doubts about its cost and coverage. The legislation passed narrowly, but 63 House Democrats lost their seats in the 2010 midterm elections. That left the body sharply divided between Republican and Democratic partisans, stalling the administration’s legislative agenda for the remaining six years of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign labeled his opponent, the temperate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as antiminority, antiwoman, anti-middle-class and a financial predator. The theme continued against Republican congressional candidates in 2014. Hillary Clinton tried to replicate it in her campaign against President Trump but did not comprehend the electorate’s determination to reject political establishmentarians, including herself.

Democrats and many in media now accuse Mr. Trump of totalitarian methods and objectives. There is much to fault in the Trump presidency, but the totalitarian tendencies appear to flow from our own party. Its present presidential aspirants appear to be emulating Robespierre in their over-the-top denunciations of Mr. Trump and all others they deem unworthy.

A Generation Emerging From the Wreckage

It’s not that the students are hopeless. They are dedicating their lives to social change. It’s just that they have trouble naming institutions that work.

.. The second large theme was the loss of faith in the American idea. I told them that when I went to public school the American history curriculum was certainly liberal, but the primary emotion was gratitude. We were the lucky inheritors of Jefferson and Madison, Whitman and Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy and King. Our ancestors left oppression, crossed a wilderness and are trying to build a promised land.

.. Others made it clear that the American story is mostly a story of oppression and guilt. “You come to realize the U.S. is this incredibly imperfect place.” “I don’t have a sense of being proud to be an American.” Others didn’t recognize an American identity at all: “The U.S. doesn’t have a unified culture the way other places do,” one said.

.. I asked them to name the defining challenge of their generation. Several mentioned the decline of the nation-state and the threats to democracy. A few mentioned inequality, climate change and a spiritual crisis of meaning. “America is undergoing a renegotiation of the terms of who is powerful,”

.. I asked the students what change agents they had faith in. They almost always mentioned somebody local, decentralized and on the ground — teachers, community organizers.

.. One pointed out that today’s successful movements, like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, don’t have famous figureheads or centralized structures.

.. one big challenge for this generation is determining how to take good things that are happening on the local level and translate them to the national level, where the problems are

.. I was also struck by pervasive but subtle hunger for a change in the emotional tenor of life. “We’re more connected but we’re more apart,” one student lamented. Again and again, students expressed a hunger for social and emotional bonding, for a shift from guilt and accusation toward empathy. “How do you create relationship?” one student asked. That may be the longing that undergirds all others.

Democrats have finally figured out how to turn Trump’s tweets into their own weapon.

The Almanac of American Politics details Sen. Gillibrand’s eye-rolling flip-flops—famous in New York political circles—from upstate House conservative to progressive Senate saint, described in an apparently forgotten New York Times account.

.. With Democrats themselves admitting they have no coherent message that could win a presidential election, the opposition strategy has been built around Mr. Trump’s personality, his alleged collusion with Russia to disable Hillary Clinton, and now the return of the same accusations of sexual harassment that did not cause him to lose the election.

.. Democrats may finally have hit upon the Achilles’ heel that will fell or weaken this president: his tweets.

The tweets have worried Republicans and Trump supporters since they started. Mr. Trump rejects this criticism. He said, with a tweet, that they energize his base. But Roy Moore just lost in Alabama.

.. The biggest nonpolitical story for months has been sexual abuse, starting with Harvey Weinstein. It was only a matter of time before the politicians would figure out how to manipulate harassment for their own purposes.

.. Then on Monday, the day before the Alabama election, came the following: Three women repeated sexual harassment accusations they’d made against Mr. Trump during the campaign; the congressional Democratic Women’s Working Group called for an investigation of the charges; and Sen. Gillibrand called on the president to resign.

.. They have discovered how to make his tweets their weapon.

.. Mr. Trump’s Tuesday-morning tweet suddenly elevated a B-level New York senator, and the media instantly recycled the Trump sexual-harassment details. Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore by just 1.5%, and the Republicans’ Senate majority fell to 51. By day’s end, Sen. Gillibrand was soliciting funds via email for her 2018 election. They figured out how to make the Trump side lose. It’s the president’s move now. Checkmate awaits.

Trent Franks, Accused of Offering $5 Million to Aide for Surrogacy, Resigns

Representative Trent Franks announced Friday that he would resign from Congress immediately after accusations emerged that he had offered $5 million to a female employee to be a surrogate mother for his children, and that she and another female employee worried that the lawmaker wanted to have sex as a means of impregnating them.

.. Mr. Franks’s net worth sits at nearly $30 million

.. Franks’s wealth derives primarily from stock in Trinity Petroleum, where he was chief executive

.. Mr. Franks and his wife have two children, twins born by a surrogate.

.. Mr. Franks was best known as one of the most socially conservative members of the House. In 2013, he came under harsh criticismfor remarking that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low”

.. He also founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, a nonprofit associated with Focus on the Family, a socially conservative religious organization.