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Situation Room: DEMDOOM 2020??

Is the Democratic Party doomed to the kind of splintering we're witnessing in the GOP? Maybe!

When events warrant, MTV staffers gather together in our virtual secure bunker to discuss the political news of the day. Monday’s topic: Although this year’s Democratic race for the presidential nomination appears to be winding down, the future of the party even in the next cycle is far from certain. There’s a very real chance that calamity is lurking beyond the horizon, that 2020 could bring about a blue-hued version of what the GOP is experiencing this year. Here today: Ana Marie Cox, Jaime Fuller, Jane Coaston, Michael Catano, Kaleb Horton, Ezekiel Kweku, and Jamil Smith.

Smith: This primary is over on the Democratic side and we should stop pretending that it isn’t. But I disagree entirely with folks saying Bernie Sanders should drop out. He has a ton of money, and there are still more than a dozen states and territories that should get an opportunity to vote for him. And for Sanders’s sake, the movement that could emerge from this would be his legacy; the entire nation should not only have a chance to hear his arguments but to weigh in on them with their votes. There is something to be said for inspiration, and if a Sanders rally in California or Oregon or Indiana sparks others to engage in politics, that’s a positive.

And if he decides to apply that fundraising muscle to help raise money for Democrats running down-ballot, all the better. That’s a political revolution I can get down with.

Cox: Full disclosure: I'm a closet Bernie supporter of sorts (I like his hair?).

The crazy youth demographic divide between Hillary and Bernie has to mean SOMETHING moving forward, right? Like, yes, "beware twitch narratives in the long race," but you know what the really long race is? 2020 and that rising millennial tide. I don't quite buy the "Bernie or bust" fearmongering, but I do wonder what happens to the non-Democrat Bernie voters come NEXT election. I’m less worried about "losing" them to the GOP than simply losing them, period. Maybe it all depends on Bernie setting the example. Or maybe the party system is fucked for both sides.

I think it's perfectly likely that HRC will be a one-time president. Either the GOP gets its shit together and runs an actual moderate and sweeps up a whole swath of swing voters OR an insurgent challenges HRC ... OR BOTH.

Fuller: How much of this divide is unique to Clinton, do you think? Back in 2008, there was also a huge divide in how millennials split up their support. Obama, the millennial favorite, was definitely not operating outside the Democratic Party. Do you think young people could be coaxed to stay with the party once younger politicians — the ones who didn’t run this presidential election cycle because of Clinton — run in a few years, making the party more in their own image, instead of abandoning it in the establishment lane to die alone?

Cox: If Citizens United is here to stay, we could see the slow deterioration of parties and the rise of a "one from Column A, one from Column B" version of politics. Mega-donors and interest groups with specific causes not tied down by historical allegiances -- you'd wind up with loose coalitions that span ideological lines, because most Americans don't have super-defined ideologies anyway. Think candidates funded by the NRA and Sierra Club and gay-rights groups.

Fuller: Another question for the Democratic Party post-2016 is how to get voters out during the midterms. Many of the policies that Democratic presidential candidates have condemned this year were implemented at the state level, where they would have little opportunity to enact change if elected. Midterms are a Republican buffet at the moment, since older white voters get most excited about voting in off-year races.

Coaston: That’s what annoys me most about a lot of what is happening this year — midterms matter. A lot. Yes, there’s been a lot of gerrymandering, but good lord, get out and vote in 2018. That “revolution” isn’t going to be you standing outside Mitch McConnell’s office (reminder: the U.S. Park Service will kick you out pretty much immediately), and oh, by the way? Elderly Republican voters get REAL RILED UP. 2010? Even 2014? That’s the midterms, and that’s Congress, and that’s how actual political sausage gets made.

The president shouldn’t have to — and isn’t supposed to — work through executive orders. And the president definitely shouldn’t have to work with these fucking jokers — who, by the way, were elected while young people and liberals were taking up cat-strangling or something. If there’s going to be a liberal revolution, it’s going to take place in the goddang voting booth with an influx of younger Democrats — or Libertarians, or something — running for office. It will not be through yelling on Twitter.

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Catano: You can’t tell young people from birth that this one job — U.S. president — is the most important job on the entire planet and reasonably expect to retain their interest in the electoral process when they find out that the system to elect said president is complete garbage. Like, imagine that on your 18th birthday you get to finally eat a piece of fruit for the first time and then, haha! Here’s some durian! You’re going to be skeptical when someone offers you a very reasonable apple.

If you want young people to care about elections that aren't the presidential election, then (a) stop calling the U.S. president the leader of the free world, and (b) get a parliamentary system like everyone else. Seriously, you know who wakes up in the morning and says "I, MORE THAN ANY OTHER HUMAN ON THE PLANET, AM MOST QUALIFIED TO LEAD THE FREE WORLD"? A sociopath.

Horton: I couldn’t see Barack Obama becoming president in 2004. I couldn’t see Donald Trump becoming 2016’s most viable GOP presidential candidate in 2012. Trying to guess where the Democrats will be in 2020 just ain’t my racket. It might as well be science fiction. Who knows what’ll happen to America in four years? Who knows what’ll happen this year? Bernie Sanders sure looks like the beginning of a new left, but we have a short cultural attention span, and four years is time for plenty of storms we can’t even imagine right now.

Fuller: I agree with Kaleb. Between now and 2020, America will have lived through yet another Avatar movie and at least 256 superhero sequels. North West will be in school. At least five social networking websites will be born. All of them will die. We will probably endure a presidency of someone whom an unhealthy number of Americans will dislike immensely. A lot of laws that a majority of Americans want won’t get passed. There will be politicians who figure out how to stitch this detritus into a campaign, but it’s hard to see who will be best placed to do so if we don’t even know the landscape.

Kweku: Democrats have a tendency to find solace in demographics as projecting a bright future for the party. For instance, the GOP is the party of white people, and there will be fewer white people in the future. I don’t know how much stock to put in predictions like these, and I’m not sure how much bite changing demographics are going to have over the next eight years, but it’s something to think about.

Smith: Demographics are important, but that won’t matter for the Democrats if they don’t figure out how to more effectively communicate with burgeoning movements on the left. We saw how much black liberation activists have changed this election in how Clinton built some of her strengths (giving the Mothers of the Movement a stage; challenging white people to engage on race) and how she was forced to engage on her weaknesses (“superpredators” and the ’94 crime bill, neither of which a GOP nominee can ever effectively exploit). So what’s the next step? Republican obstruction in the House is going nowhere; how will Democrats actually get enough done to keep the energy going? Now what?


VMAs 2017