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In my opinion, the most revealing American political event in the last decade was the Democratic Party’s embrace of Hamilton, Not Just The Musical, and in the process doing a 180 away from Jeffersonian populism.
Hamilton: An American Musical ‘s identity as a liberal touchstone in these troubled times was affirmed when the audience boo’d Trumpveep Mike Pence when he attended the show, and he was addressed by the cast.
Ironically, the Clinton campaign actually recapitulated Hamilton’s political failures (he was never elected to a major office, made his mark as an appointee and factotum to George Washington and, indeed, was shunted into political irrelevance by Jefferson and Madison in the last years of his life) in not having an effective populist strategy.
So you could say Pence was at the scene of the crime, examining the remnants of the elite bubble that popped electorally on November 8–as well as indicating his willingness to serve as Veep of All Americans, a bit of olivebranching that did not make it into the coverage.
Somewhat awkwardly for NeverTrumpers who clothe their opposition in the uncompromising rhetoric of anti-fascism, once Pence was in their clutches the outraged Dems did not tear him limb from limb accompanied by infuriated exhortations from the stage.
In fact, if political correctness was strictly enforced, the cast speech would have been condemned for “normalizing” the Trump administration i.e. acknowledging its legitimacy and power to rule and beseeching its benevolence:
Vice-president elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.
We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.
But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.
And buy the cast album!
Nice support for my crack “Liberals don’t fight fascism; they appease it.”
But the true story of Hamilton, in my opinion, is that he established the federal government as a bulwark of elite privilege and a bastion of resistance against populist rule.
Not just because he was an elitist himself and saw the merits of running the country in the interests of and in cooperation with successful rich guys; but because he saw that the best protection against local secessionist sentiment that plagued early America was to give elites a big stake in the federal government and less incentive to collude in local mischief.
I actually went into this issue at enormous length in a previous post (reproduced below and itself excerpted from a “punishingly long” precursor post; you’re welcome!) and patient readers will, I think, find my evidence persuasive.
The Democratic Party is now infatuated with the idea of “woke” i.e. enlightened and politically progressive elite rule a la Hamilton, perhaps because it is in thrall to its billionaire supporters like George Soros, who has not only lots of money but an ideology and global organization committed to perpetuating elite rule by the careful and scientific promotion of liberal principles concerning markets, geopolitics, and immigration.
The most fascinating and fraught element of elite-friendly rule, in my opinion, is the use of defining and redefining what and who is “America”—what forms the moral core and defines the proper trajectory of the nation—to slice and dice the rabble into relatively impotent, rulable ethnic and/or religious and/or national blocs and claim the more dynamic, unified, and useful groups as elite adjuncts.
The ugly word for this is co-option. And for the first two hundred years of its history, the elite has done its best to be white-friendly.
This year, noting demographic change and the strong identity of African Americans with Barack Obama, the Democratic Party placed its bets on “the Obama coalition” i.e. the cast of Hamilton.
Hamilton The Musical is a conscious exercise in redefinition, using revisionist casting of people of color, LBGQT etc. to assert the relevance of Hamilton and his exclusively white male milieu to the modern age.
Hillary Clinton placed a losing bet on this coalition. The dispute raging on the Internet was whether this bet was too early or too one-sided.
I vote for “inept”.
If the Democrats get it together and find a candidate charismatic enough to appeal to enough of the white constituency while keeping the Obama coalition together, you know somebody like Barack Obama but isn’t termed-out, maybe they can nudge a candidate over the finish line next time.
The Trump election may have been the last or next-to-last hurrah for the white conservative male bloc, whose plurality and political clout is slowly being eroded by the burgeoning membership of the “rainbow coalition”.
Ironically, 2016 may have also been the last best chance for the African American bloc to assert its claim to a dominant political role in national political life.
African American demographics are also eroding and, with John Lewis’ campaign to mobilize African Americans on behalf of Hillary Clinton coming up short—not only electorally, but in terms of turnout of black males, a group that I think was quietly alienated by the more strident “black women are saving the world” rhetoric and what appears to be a sidelining of black males who, I suspect, the Clinton campaign decided would be regarded as too scary and militant—2016 might mark the highwater mark of African American influence.
Following the election catastrophe, African American ambitions of “leading the Obama coalition” and acting as gatekeeper/king or queenmaker have taken a sizable knock and is the topic of much furious invective on the Internet right now, with the fascinating subtext that Sandernista socialism-lite, even with its electoral appeal, is apparently less attractive to the DNC elite than a shaky identity politics coalition that is, nevertheless neoliberal/globalization/free market friendly and a welcoming destination for the Soros/Democratic Alliance billions that are needed to run an effective national campaign nowadays.
Maybe in a few years, Soros The American Musical will take Broadway and liberal America by storm. Who will play Soros: Hispanic? Black? Woman? LGBTQ? Muslim? White? will provide an interesting road map of which way the Democratic Party is headed.
Hispanic Hamilton…and Mob vs. Snob
Tuesday, August 9, 2016