NOTES ON SPOILING
MAY 18, 2015 JOHN.HALLE
For a decade and half, the spoiler factor has been a third rail of progressive politics.
Some of those who have raised the issue are genuinely concerned with the prospect of a third party candidate enabling a far right victory.
But others are Democratic Party hacks who, in Matt Taibbi’s phrase“would triangulate their own mothers” to maintain their lock on power. Spoiling for them is a bad faith exercise in maintaining electoral politics as a bipartisan gated community from which left, populist candidates are excluded.
Fortunately, there are signs that its effects are beginning to wear off.
One factor has to do with Obama’s valedictory lurches to the right,drilling in the ANWR, attacking Elizabeth Warren for her opposition to the TPP as well as Seymour Hersh’s revelations of some of the most shamefully transparent lies in the history of the presidency. These have shown that there’s very little left to spoil.
And so Democratic loyalists have to make ever more extravagant and ridiculous gestures to apply the spoiler label to those challenging the party’s three decades long neoliberal drift.
A good indication is a recent posting on the blandly illiterate Forward Progressives website which urges us to focus on “Sanders’ entrance into the presidential race (which) is already making it more likely that Republicans could win the White House in 2016.”
Worth noting here is the slippage in the definition of the concept “spoiler”. A decade ago, it applied to a candidate endangering the front runner by competing in swing states. Very quickly it would apply to competing even in safe states.
Now we have reached the point that those daring to compete in the primaries are “spoilers”. Soon it will apply to those guilty of suggesting a possible alternative candidate to whoever the DP leadership anoints and eventually to any criticism of the “dear leader” at all-those doing so reflexively denounced as “Naderites.”
All this would be comical if it didn’t serve the underlying purpose of obscuring precisely what the Dems don’t want us to see.