To point out Clinton’s popular-vote advantage is not a form of liberal denial. It’s a way of beginning to build a barricade against right-wing triumphalism — and of reminding immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and, yes, our daughters that most Americans stood with them on Election Day.
Dionne's truisms notwithstanding, Democrats are already doing what Democrats do best: Sniping at each other post-election. Inflamed, internal divisions are a natural byproduct of primary battles, but any emotionally mature party would put them aside in the aftermath. Party maturity would especially put heated divisions aside in the dawning nightmare of triumphant Trumpism. But Democrats are once again sinking into arrested development, and I can only assume their self-defeating immaturity will persist. The Sanders camp screams "liberal denial" and the Clinton camp shouts "progressive betrayal" — precisely when the common enemy of Trumpism should be, for now, both sides' focus.
That doesn't mean there should be self-censorship or some impossibly attempted crackdown on internal debate. Obviously, debate will go on. And that's healthy. The mutual recriminations I'm seeing online are not. (Many times in the past few days I have had to stop myself from writing, Corleone-style: "You have to answer for Donald, Bernie." There's just no pragmatic point to it.)
Dionne also urges Democrats "to recover ground with white working-class voters." Here, however, he is realistic. "[P]rogressives hoping that a heavy dose of populism will be enough to win back the working class must not be under the illusion that the Trump constituency was motivated solely by economics" — nor even largely. Trump's constituency was fundamentally motivated by cultural reactionaryism: religious bigotry, nativism, police statism.
What will swing many of these voters back into the Democratic fold? Trump's demagogic betrayal of them. Four years hence, their steel mills will remain idle, their coal mines barely operational, their manufacturing plants shuttered. They will know they've been had. They may even know it by November 2018.