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Something #Basta This Way Comes


Nature, allegedly, abhors a vaccum. Politics even more so, and when there is an absence of leadership all things tend to spiral in chaos until that leadership vaccum is filled. Though resistance to President Trump is nearly universal on the left, just who exactly is the leader of that movement is very much up for debate. Even with the prospects of a “blue wave” in the upcoming mid-terms, the Democrat Party is still more united in hatred of Trump than joining under any one banner. With a divisive president and both cyclical and historical trends that favor the minority party in non-presidental election years, it might not matter much. But in the looming 2020 battle for the White House, leadership most certainly will matter, and whoever can take the mantle will be the favorite for the nomination to challenge Donald J. Trump.

But who?

I think it’s going to be candidate-driven. I think the reason why a lot of these voters that make up (Trump’s) base are not abandoning him is because we don’t have a reasonable alternative. When I say a reasonable alternative, I’m not talking about a platform position or a series of ideas or issues — I’m talking about an individual. I mean, we’re asking them to change horses but we haven’t given them a new horse to change to. Until the Democratic Party does that, I’m not surprised that the base has not eroded.

Meet Michael Avenatti. You probably best know him from the relentless coverage he garners as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer/hype man, but you may not have noticed his current change of course. He’s been to Iowa twice, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania. His appearance was the most newsworthy event at the summer DNC gathering in Chicago. He very publicly intervened pro bono to escort seperated children back to their parents during the child seperation controversy at the border. As the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings kick off, he’s now weighing in on a proposal to change the highest court in the land:



And in case the hints were too subtle, Avenatti was kind enough to post a policy sheet to his Twitter feed:


And then there is this:



And this:

If you are noticing a pattern that sounds vaguely familiar, that is by design. In an interview with Paper Magazine, Avenatti offered a bit of insight into his current strategy, and spoke highly of the tactics employed by none other than President Trump, when asked a question of how a candidate in his 70s mastered Twitter and galvanized an audience:

Look, Mr. Trump’s not a young man by any stretch, but you’ve got to hand it to him. He’s done a remarkable job using Twitter as a platform and being able to communicate his message directly to people and bypass the media filter. That’s the other thing — too many people have underestimated this man. He is not to be underestimated. When it comes to policy, when it comes to dealing with North Korea, when it comes to serious problems, I think the guy’s a total buffoon. He’s an embarrassment to the United States. But when it comes to campaigning, his messaging and his ability to excite people, I think he’s brilliant. I think the guy is the best around. He’s a hell of a communicator and we need to recognize that.

His reasoning is sound. The formula for Donald Trump’s success is not a complicated one: Known personality taps into simmering anger, becomes its avatar, and short circuits a moribund system that cannot react to a populist uprising inside of one election cycle. There are many other factors of course, but that is the “how” of the never-ending “how we got Trump” question, and we will leave the “why” for another time. If you are wondering what that has to do with Avenatti and his potential POTUS aspirations, the answer is plenty, according to the man himself, who is openly telling us what model he is following.

He may have a pretty good read on the current political situation, and perhaps a more accurate one than other potential nominees. Right now, forces are already in motion that will determine 2020 to a great extent. People sometimes forget, among the twists and turns of a roller coaster, that everything is happening according to how the rails were laid out ahead of time. The 2020 campaign will definitely be a roller coaster, and though there is much we don’t know, the tracks are being laid out right now that will determine that ride. There is reaction to Trump of course, but other factors will loom large. The pending confirmation of Kavanaugh will be seen as nothing short of a failure of the Democratic establishment to #Resist!, no matter how hopeless such a belief was.

The mid-term elections will have a tremendous amount of influence on the shape of the campaign. The Blue Wave may indeed be coming, but the math of taking the senate is probably too daunting.

So for the sake of argument lets assume the house flips to Democratic control and the Senate remains Republican. The howl for impeachment will be loud, not withstanding the impossibility of getting 66 conviction votes in the Senate, unless an awful lot changes. A year’s worth of doomed-to-fail impeachment theater will be a great variable in American politics going forward.

But the anger and frustration of all these things from our friends on the left is not a variable. It is very real, and is searching for a conduit to produce the results that will satisfy those passionate desires. Which brings us back to Avenatti, and his “fight fire with fire” positioning. While wannabe POTUS contenders on the Senate Judiciary Committee were attempting various strategies to have a viral moment, biding their time to announce their runs for the White House, Avenatti is nearly omnipresent, assailing the president at every opportunity. Sen. Booker’s “as close to a Spartacus moment as I will get” stunt reflected this reaction from Avenatti on his Twittter account;

Something #Basta This Way Comes

Avenatti also weighed in on Sen. Kamala Harris’ performance, in which she strongly insinuated through her line of questioning that she had knowledge of a conversation between Kavanaugh and the President’s lawyers, which has seemingly proven to be a bluff:

Something #Basta This Way Comes

Those are carefully worded tweets, stopping short of being outright criticism while still getting the point across. It is fair to say that as of right now Avenatti is mostly still a media personality and Twitter presence. But that was the criticism of one Donald J. Trump not long ago, and Avenatti’s plan to “fight fire with fire” apparently includes borrowing heavily from the Trump campaign book when it comes to media hits, and the use of Twitter to communicate his message directly to people.

Will it work? Maybe, but I doubt it. The problem with fighting fire with fire is to an outsider, all they see is fire. Presidential elections are won not by the political junkies but by the voters who span the spectrum from casually interested to straight ticket punchers. To the population that only tunes in at the end of a campaign, if at all, there is a very real danger that trying to “out-Trump Trump” devolves into two brands of crazy that just drown each other out. The voters Hillary Clinton missed in falling to Donald Trump might not be enticed back home just for the sake of being against Trump by being louder, feistier, and more aggressive.

The Democratic party is making a grave error in assuming that whoever they choose for the party will automatically be rallied to. The GOP establishment went into 2016 assuming their base’s frustration at 8 years of President Obama would stay within the lines the party was trying to construct for it. We see how that turned out. What to watch for here in the coming weeks is who steps forward to channel all that frustration from the Resist! side of things. The hard left may be enraged but they are also keenly observing the potential contenders for taking on President Trump in 2020. If they see Avenatti busy about the work of the resistance while elected officials only talk about it, with little to show for it, the opening for an outsider might be an Avenatti-sized hole. If he becomes the avatar for resistance rage, and his #basta hashtag turns on the currently hapless DNC screaming “enough!” watch out.

Michael Avenatti has a plan. Democrats that do not want him progressing further better get one, rapidly, if they want to stop him. Otherwise, 2020 might well be the fire vs fire election, and it is the country that will be burned in the process.

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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46 thoughts on “Something #Basta This Way Comes

  1. Question is, was he planning to run and then found Stormy Daniels, or the opposite?

    His policy positions are pretty boilerplate. Definitely not an agenda I am likely to support, but also nothing too outrageous. Very much looking forward to seeing who declares in 2019. (BTW – Joe Biden restarted his Instagram account last week and seems to be gearing up. He would be a couple weeks shy of 78 on election night 2020).


    • I’d go further and say that his positions don’t fulfill his stated objective:

      I think the reason why a lot of these voters that make up (Trump’s) base are not abandoning him is because we don’t have a reasonable alternative.

      He’s so bog-standard NE NYC Liberal Dem that there’s not an ounce of Leftist-Populism or Rightist-Populism in any of his stances. He strikes me as an obnoxious Rubio of the Left (or maybe akin to Cruz)… a guy who senses something is afoot, but completely misreads what exactly is afoot and thinks that by saying the same things in a slightly different way, he’ll catch the wave.

      I expect him to be crushed by the left-populist wing of his party long before he is completely ignored by the right-populists. In either case, he’s delusional to think he’s offering an alternative to populists (based on his current stances).

      Meanwhile Levi Sanders was trounced in Vermont… so what do I know of Left-Populism’s future?

      On the contra-side, there’s still enough time for Avenatti to hire consultants(!!) and change all of his positions to a more populist bent… I’m sure he’s flexible in these matters.


        • Sure, but those are good batch of weirdos for left-populism… but only reading the post-mortems it seems Levi is not charismatic even on the Sanders curve.

          Plus, identity politics>populist politics?

          He also tweeted that he isn’t in favor of “white privilege garbage” arguments and criticized MSNBC’s Joy Reid for employing “identity politics.”

          At an August debate in the primary race, Sanders had his microphone turned off by the moderator after refusing to stop talking when his allotted time expired. He was also booed by the crowd for attacking his fellow candidates.


      • And there I thought Sanders and the Bernie bros were nutty unelectable populists for endorsing medicare for all. Has it gone from fringe populism that will doom the paty and requires the full weight of the DNC to undermine anyone proposing it, to tepid party orthodoxy, in just two years? Is there some kind of cyclical presidential year / off year thing going on?


    • As Mike pointed out, his actual stated policy positions are pretty standard Democrat stuff. IDK how crazy Avenatti is, but he’s good on TV and says the right things to people looking for someone who is doing so. All I am saying, as an observer from the other side, is the Democrats should not take him lightly, and better decided what they think of him now. Waiting, then deciding he isn’t what they want, might be too late.


      • I have to agree on two points made:

        1). Democrats indeed need to decide and decide early. It didn’t go well for the Republicans to have 16 initial candidates, and t he contortions they have had to go through since then to support Mr. Trump may well cost them both Houses of Congress in a few weeks time.

        2). Mr Avenatti isn’t breaking policy ground. The problem for me with the “standard Democratic fare” that Dwyer points to is its classically centerist or ever so right of center economically. Part of Hillary’s Problem in 2016 was her economics were neoliberal (As apparently are Mr. Avenatti’s) which don’t favor working people staring down a fourth decade of stagnant wages, compounded by the opiod crisis and thirty years of Trickle Down nonsense designed to turn white workers against People of Color. Democrats tried that message in 2016 before Hillary switched to “I’m not him” and it was a disaster.

        while I strongly believe the House will flip, and I think hope is rising the Senate will as well, Mr. Avenatti’s rise in the Democrats presidential hopeful ranks points out how broken the party actually is, and why focusing on the White House for so many years while ceding the governorships to the Republicans was a colossally bad idea.


        • “…and why focusing on the White House for so many years while ceding the governorships to the Republicans was a colossally bad idea.”

          Totally agree with Phillip’s assessment here. I am a huge believer in the states being laboratories for democracy. Right now, the only people doing any experimenting are the mad scientists of the far Right (my governor being a good example). And that is because of the hyper-focus on the WH and ignoring everything else. Having a hip, cool president was great for 8 years (even I enjoyed it) but didn’t help the country a ton in the long-run.

          I will also say, I am DONE with Baby Boomer presidents. I would have to be extremely impressed to vote for anyone over 60 next time. Time to give Gen X a shot.


  2. Eh. This goes to show how a lot of political punditry really doesn’t get the mindset of the Democratic base. Or they want the Democratic base to be just as prone to craziness as the GOP because Both Sides.

    I make no predictions on whom will be the Democratic nominee except that it won’t be Aventii. The big reaction I have seen from Democrats about his dipping of the toes is a long and heavy sigh of exasperation. There are plenty of more experienced politicians for 2020 like Gilobrand, Harris, Warren, Etc.

    For better or for worse, Democrats prefer experienced pols who rise up the ranks. Do you remember Sandra Fluke? She gave a big speech at one of Obama’s conventions and was a liberal icon for a bit. She tried to run for an open Congressional seat but discovered her brief fame was not enough for voters. She changed her goals to run for state legislative office instead. No idea if she succeeded or not.

    There can be upsets as we have seen in NY with AOC, Florida with Gullium, Massachusetts with Presley but these winners were still experienced politicians. AOC worked behind the scenes for Sanders. Gullium is the mayor of Tallahassee, Preseley is a long time Boston City Council poll.

    I do think a lot of right-leaning dudes really really underestimate Democratic anger. I don’t see this leading to someone like Aventii becoming the nominee in 2020.


    • That’s been my impression over at Reddit. It’s been “Way to go hammering on Trump. Don’t run for office. Nobody wants that kind of crap.”.

      And that’s from his fans on a pretty heavy liberal and young crowd.

      There’s a pretty wide distaste for the idea of, effectively, a political nobody trying to run for President entirely on the grounds of “I sued a guy you hate”. Well good on you, especially since it seems it’s a legit lawsuit and you’re legit ticking him off and we’re all good with that, but if you want to run for office maybe City Council? I mean something commiserate with your absolute lack of political experience.”


  3. Watch for the DNC to shoot themselves in the foot, repeatedly, until the gun is empty, and then call for more ammunition.

    What if Sanders had won the 2016 primary? He’d have gone into the general wth the weight of his own party’s attack campaign weighing on voters’ minds. What if Nixon had won the primary over Cuomo? She’d be a Democrat trying to get out the base in NY after her own party called her an antisemite.

    So, either the DNC is horribly inept, or they look at a choice between a progressive Democrat and a Republican winning the general, and go “we’ll risk the Republican, we can’t possibly let a leftist win.”


  4. Sandra Fluke lost her 2014 election to be State Senator.

    The BSDI is rather strong this morning. This group contains a lot of people who seemingly can’t give up the Dems in Disarray cliche.


    • I do not think the “Dems in disarray” is the right way to frame current events. Even in the intramural sniping within the party, the overall ideology is much tighter than say, the divisions on the right is at the moment. I do, however, think the current leadership is a big problem for that party, where you have a change coming but older powerbrokers not ready to hand it over yet, a DNC that under Perez has been a disaster, and no overarching leadership. It’s not unfair to think those factors could be problems if left unaddressed.


          • Who was the leader of the Republican’s in mid-2010?

            Who was the leader of the Democrat’s in mid-2006?

            Who was the leader of the Republicans in mid-1994?

            The truth is, the way American politics work, the party not in the White House rarely had an actual leader. That’s why we have primaries. To figure out who that should be.


              • I was unaware George W. Bush or the Republicans were re-elected in 2008.

                Regardless, for example, Bill Clinton was not the leader of the Democrat’s in 1990, Donald Trump was not the leader of the Republican’s in 2014, and so on, and so forth.


            • Unlike parliamentary systems, Presidential systems rarely have the institution of shadow government where the opposition presents an alternative cabinet to the nation. The closest example we have to an opposition party having a clear leader was Newt Gingrich during the Clinton administration. What we don’t have is a system where the public gets a preview of who the next President is going to be when Trump is out of office.


              • From a technical point but party leader is different in the United States. What Tom Perez and Ronna McDaniel are really just something like CEOs hired to run the party. They aren’t political party leaders like Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May are in the United Kingdom. Neither of them are supposed to get out in Most Americans will have no idea who they are even if they are committed Democrats or Republicans, let alone what they do.


          • “I’m not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”-Will Rogers.

            The leadership would be Schumer in the Senate and Pelosi in the House plus their whips. The leading figures who are looking to forge new policies and ways are Warren, Gillibrand, Harris, and Cory Booker.

            The Democratic Party does have a bit of having a leadership that is a bit too old for my liking. However, this is changing and it looks like the 2018 election is going to bring in newer and younger faces. However, the Democratic base is just not as enamoured as the GOP base with Boy Wonders. We don’t have the kind of apparatus or real desire for a CPAC kind of atmosphere.

            I think Kevin Drum’s hack gap thesis covers this. Whenever the GOP has a new “idea”, there is a whole apparatus of people who will just come out and support it and say it is the best thing since sliced bread and will lead to unicorns and rainbows everywhere. This just doesn’t exist on the Democratic Side. Look at what happened with the BEZOS act from Bernie Sanders. Every center-left think tank and policy wonk came out and smashed it as horrible policy. They just could not help themselves.

            TL/DR: The Democratic Party is a bigger tent coalition party that largely believes that government is and can be a force for good. We are also a party filled with people whom think the GOP is insane and nihilistic. This includes everyone from minorities and/or working-class activists like AOC, Randy Bryce, and Presley to people hoping for partnerships at the top-consulting companies in the world. It is hard to craft broad-based policies with this kind of coalition. There are things that some Democratic politicians say that really annoy me like Amy Koubacher promising to keep Senate “norms” alive in the face of GOP nihilism but I also know she is one of the most popular politicians in her state and the residents of MN want her to be procedural.


  5. Yeah, I don’t see Avenatti as anything more than a blip on the media radar, and one to be approached warily.

    I see Gillibrand and Harris as the rising stars, but 2020 is an eternity away in political terms. In 2006, Barack Obama was just making a name for himself in Illinois.


    • Fair enough. My main point here was I see one person with a plan and about it, while others wait or, much worse, flail. I am very curious at how Sen. Harris came off to those she would most need support from. Social media is a poor barometer for such things, but even still more than a few, including friends of ours, were not blown away. Like you said, more to come so we will see. I wonder if we aren’t under the new rules fully, and some might be grabbing them quicker than others.


      • A lot of the online left and heterodox right and center are particularly suspicious Harris because her history as Attorney General of California, and the attendant (almost obligatory) authoritarian positions that come with it.

        I wouldn’t read that much into it. These really don’t seem to be high salience issues for most of the party (or the broader political world). More’s the pity, I suppose, but thinking otherwise seems to be the Pundit’s Fallacy talking.


      • On one hand, I can see how it must seem like a vacuum, where there isn’t an Obama who serves as the figurehead and standard bearer.

        On the other hand, it looks like we are going to take the House, and possibly the Senate without the need for a messiah.

        It could be that instead of an leader producing a consensus, a consensus may produce a leader.

        In other words, there seems to be a gathering consensus that the economy isn’t working to produce widespread prosperity and security, and something must be done.The GOP responded to this by producing a Great Man on Horseback who promised to fix it.

        The liberals responded by producing a Great Idea, democratic socialism, aka a New New Deal.
        Alexandria Ocasio Cortez appears to me to be this sort, the person who becomes famous by appearing at the spear tip of a popular idea. She herself isn’t a charismatic figure, but embodies an idea.
        Gillibrand looks like she is maneuvering to do the same.

        Or so it seems to me.


        • Thats is well laid out and may prove to be the case. My concern is a lack of a leader will result in a finding of a messiah. Not everyone is as measured in their views. Kavanaugh being confirmed and Senate staying R, if that happens, will likely drown out the success of taking the house. You may be right, I just see some frustration on the horizon along with the much discussed “blue wave” and think that could change things more than anticipated.


        • “The liberals responded by producing a Great Idea, democratic socialism, aka a New New Deal”

          It feels to me like either Democrats need to rebrand socialism or do a better job of explaining it. The choice isn’t socialism or no socialism, it’s just how much socialism.


          • Explaining it to who?

            Doesn’t it seem like a lot of what powers Trump (besides racism) is a fury and frustration with the economic elites, and the structure of trade?

            Isn’t much of what he promised (to thunderous applause) essentially the idea the it is government’s role to produce jobs and prosperity and to manage the economy?

            Despite the scorn that his base has for “socialists” and “the left” they seem to eagerly embrace its ideas.
            I’m not seeing much love for the Reagan/Thatcher/Friedman idea of “let the market handle itself”.


            • I would say it needs to be explained to Generation X. Sanders proved the Millennials like those ideals. My generation still believes that socialism equals unfair handouts. I have this argument with my brother all the time. He rails against encroaching socialism while putting his kids in public schools and using any number of public services every day. When I point that out he says, “You know the kind of socialism I am talking about.”

              I don’t want us to become Sweden or France, but I’m okay with moving the needle in that direction if it means more income equality and less people being left on the margins. Someone is going to have to do a better job of packaging it. Or I guess they could just acknowledge that Generation X is much smaller than the Boomers or Millennials and ignore us.


              • I’m referring to the low info voters I see who angrily rail against unfair handouts, and in the same breath, demand that Trump make a better deal with China and deport all the illegals so as to lift American wages.

                In other words, everyone hates handouts, but everyone loves when the government rigs the economy in their favor.

                This isn’t new; whats new is the fading stigma of the word which describes this.


    • I see the jump in 2017, basically being current #Resistance Dem’s (ie. suburbanites in Virginia, Colorado, etc.) saying, “OK, we lost, we haven’t been listening to the middle of the country, we have to give Trump a chance”, then Trump and the GOP being who they thought they were and said Resistance Dem’s turning hard against compromise.


  6. Mike Dwyer: I don’t disagree with your analysis of those voters, but there’s also a basic lack of understanding among the electorate on just what the government is supposed to do.

    I actually think its the opposite – most people know what government is supposed to do – and they know what government actually does. Some people (many liberals actually) want those two things aligned. Others like what government actually does as long as it advantages them or their preferred in-group (republican politicians and white nationalists). The problem seems to come in when the second group is confronted with the government helping the first group, and doubly so when the government seeks to correct past injustices. That’s not a lack of knowledge its a fundamental difference in ethics and world view.


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