The second round of Democratic presidential primary debates in Detroit turned out to be a “Bonfire of Fantasies” — a public immolation of the few candidates willing to sound the alarm about the Party’s self-destructive shift to the radical left.
Back in 1497, a monk named Girolamo Savonarola convinced the people of Florence to build a “Bonfire of the Vanities” and burn all their artwork, cosmetics, fancy dresses and all other luxuries that supposedly facilitated sin.
We’re seeing exactly the same mentality in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
When former Congressman John Delany argued that Democrats should focus on “things that are workable, not fairy-tale economics,” for instance, his warning was met with nothing but scorn from the other candidates and the audience.
The same thing happened to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock when he desperately pleaded with his rivals to recognize that even Obama-era DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has questioned the open-borders radicalism espoused by the candidates.
The hostility directed against any Democrat who dares to suggest toning down the radical rhetoric shows that the entire Party has become beholden to an increasingly rabid activist class and liberal media sphere that value ideological purity over political pragmatism.
This dynamic is exerting its most obvious and significant impact on former Vice President Joe Biden, a true political blank slate. While Biden has sought to portray himself as being less crazy than his competitors, the far-left Democratic base is clearly not going to let him advance through the primaries without embracing their full range of extremist priorities.
Wednesday’s debate was like a firing squad, with nine Democrats and three moderators all taking turns excoriating Biden for seemingly every position he has taken during his 50 years in politics that diverges even slightly from the post-2016 progressive platform. Biden took flak for saying that we shouldn’t completely abandon enforcement of our immigration laws, suggesting that we wait even a few years before banning oil and coal, and even for refusing to disparage President Barack Obama for deporting more illegal aliens than Donald Trump.
The only way for Biden to avoid the fire is to join the radicals and embrace their lunacy. He’s already shown a willingness to do just that by endorsing increased immigration and promising to gradually destroy the American coal, oil, and gas industries, but he’s not tacking to the left nearly fast enough to suit his Party’s base.
Meanwhile, the few remotely-moderate candidates in this primary — people such as Delany, Bullock, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan — are going basically nowhere in this primary campaign. The obvious message to the Democratic candidates is that the primary voters who will decide the nomination are not going to stand for even the faintest whiff of moderation.
Even Sen. Amy Klobuchar is too reasonable for today’s Democrat Party, polling at a mere 1 percent.
But merely driving dissenting voices from the stage isn’t enough for progressive voters. In their view, the moderates don’t simply need to be defeated; they need to be humiliated. They need to be burned, and the liberal media has already built the political pyre.
The Daily Beast, for example, accused the moderates of creating “impromptu GOP ads” by expressing sensible reservations about their party’s radical direction during the first debate in Detroit.
This is all utter madness. Like their 15th Century forebears, the Democrats of 2020 have fetishized the destruction of the normal in their quest for god-like purity — which they define as an open borders, socialist revolution in American politics.
The original Bonfire of the Vanities was seen for the ridiculous waste that it was. Rather than ushering in a new era of clericalism and Catholic purity, demonstrative nonsense like the Bonfire went a long way toward convincing people that their church was woefully out of touch, contributing to the Protestant Reformation that began just 20 years later.
The American people can see that the Democratic Party has become just as out-of-touch as they watch the primary debates devolve into ideological purity tests and live-fire demolition of targets.
This time, though, the reckoning will come a lot quicker.
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