Sunday, June 18, 2017

Can Progressives Make The Democratic Party Worthwhile?


From the corrupt, corporate, anti-Bernie wing of the Democratic Party

As I reiterated yesterday, despite Bernie’s backing for Tom Perriello in Virginia, Perriello’s loss was no blow to progressivism. During his single term in Congress, Perriello proved himself to be a careerist hack with just a worthless patina of fake progressivism and, a dishonest and untrustworthy politician. On Friday Shaun King, in an insightful essay on why progressives and liberals continue to feel like unwelcome guests in the Democratic Party, sited Perriello’s loss as a loss for the movement. He’s correct in pointing out that the Virginia victor, conservative, semi-Republican Ralph Northam, has been a crap Democrat, but that doesn’t make Perriello anything but-- if that-- the lesser of two evils. Northam’s values, he wrote “simply don't line up with that of most progressives, including my own” and he’s right. But neither did Perriello’s who is just a faker who managed to take in an awful lot of people, including Bernie… and Shaun, who wrote that he doesn’t “know of any better illustration for the current dilemma of American progressives than this [Virginia] race and its result. The Democratic Party is moving to the right.”

He’s right about the party establishment moving even further to the right. Guys like Perriello are, however, the polar opposite of the answer.
The Democratic Party has shifted to the right. It's not anti-war. It's not strong on the environment. It's not strong on civil and human rights. It's not for universal health care. It's not strong on cracking down on Wall Street and big banks or corporate fraud. Ralph Northam was and is weak on all of those core principles of the progressive left, but we're expected to get behind him, and candidates like him, as if we're just a few small details away from seeing eye to eye with him. We aren't. He's not a progressive. He's not a liberal. He's hardly even a Democrat.

Millions of us who ultimately voted for Hillary Clinton felt the very same way about her. On issues ranging from war, to corporate fraud, to campaign finance, to universal health care, and so much more, her positions were not discernibly different from the most basic Republican talking points.

Was she better than Trump? Of course she was. But I'd literally rather have a Kardashian sister or Curious George be President of the United States over Trump. Someone being better than Trump cannot be our key metric for choosing candidates.

I'm hearing more and more of my progressive friends talk seriously about the need for us to form our own political party. I get it. At the very best we are slightly tolerated guests in the Democratic Party. We are as different from establishment Democrats as those establishment Democrats are from everyday Republicans.

Being begrudgingly tolerated is a terrible feeling. We are an enthusiastic, organized bunch, but I certainly don't feel welcomed.

MSNBC's Joy Reid all but confirmed as much in a widely shared tweet earlier this week in which she said, "Bernie and his followers are like that college friend who stays at your place for weeks, pays $0, eats your food & trashes your aesthetic.”

That Reid, who makes a living as a political commentator, came to this conclusion about Bernie Sanders and his millions of followers was deeply disappointing, but revealing. Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America. He has done far more for the Democratic Party than it has for him.

When the new head of the Democratic Party, Tom Perez, went on a speaking tour recently with Bernie, the enthusiastic crowds of thousands didn't show up at every single venue to hear Tom-- they were there for Bernie. Tom didn't do Bernie a favor, Bernie did Tom a favor. Bernie got behind Hillary Clinton and campaigned for her all over the country and asked his supporters to follow his lead.

I was one of those people who did just that. I've been a Democrat all of my life and have campaigned for and donated to so many Democratic candidates across the years. That the millions of us who support Bernie and his values have been reduced to bad guests who don't pay our way, eat up all the food, and trash the place, is a terrible insult rooted in something other than reality.

Democrats lost the House, the Senate, the presidency, the Supreme Court, and the strong majority of state houses and governorships across the country. I agree that it sure does look like somebody trashed the place, but it damn sure wasn't Bernie and his followers. Anybody saying that is delusional.
Shaun shouldn’t take an establishment shill like Joy Reid any more seriously than he would take any other establishment shills on TV, from Chris Matthews to that Greta thing MSNBC hired from Fox. Reid’s just another former Republican elitist who found her way to the party of the establishment Democrats. He shouldn’t waste his time fighting with her on Twitter or writing about her anti-progressive views in his column. She doesn’t have anything constructive to offer and perspective is typical of any Blue Dog or Third Way hack.

Shaun is part of the effort the progressive grassroots has been making to take over the Democratic Party and return it to its traditional role-- at least since the 1930s-- as a legitimate vehicle for the aspirations of America’s working families. That’s what Bernie is as well, of course. It’s an on-going, never-ending effort-- and one that will always be opposed by the entrenched forces of Big Money, which can-- and does-- buy people like Reid.

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At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Shaun person is a moron.

"The Democratic Party has shifted to the right. It's not anti-war. It's not strong on the environment. It's not strong on civil and human rights. It's not for universal health care. It's not strong on cracking down on Wall Street and big banks or corporate fraud."

The democraps are not only 'not strong' on any of those things. They are pointedly against all of them, if you only look at how they vote on shit. It's true that, while numerically irrelevant, a lot of them SAY they are pro-enviro, antiwar, pro MFA... but when they had numbers and a mandate, they pointedly refused to act on any of them. In fact, they acted in the opposite direction.

Quit soft-selling the perfidy and pure evil of the utterly corrupt democraps. Quit giving them a pass as they dredge up worse and worse candidates to maybe run against the worst of the racist/Nazis. Their worse and worse candidates have a nearly spotless record of losing and the worse they get the more dismal that record shall be.

Quit deluding yourself. The democraps are as much the enemy of the people as are the Rs. When you finally admit this to yourself, then we can go about actually affecting positive change. Until you do, it cannot happen.

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous David Hiles said...

I suggest that anyone reading this consider going to a Democratic Party committee meeting in their county of residence. In many cases you will see an empty shell waiting to be filled and activated. In some states there are procedural barriers that will slow that renewal. But it can still be done. Thanks Howie for all your work.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Bernie Bro, I fully understand the article Shawn King wrote. I did not, however, vote for HER! just because the Party said to. Their values directly opposed mine almost as much as the GOP values did.

One of the few things George Will ever did right in my opinion was introduce me to Washington's Farewell Address [Wikipedia's explanation if you need it translated]. While the language is archaic, I understood about the harm "factions" could do. I understood the warnings about people seeking to use and abuse the power of a political group for their own self interest. I know how the venal manage to succeed while those who play by the rules get taken down.

There is not a single national-level governmental body which isn't dominated by Republicans, and the vast majority of state-level political bodies are as well. Reagan's corporatist judges are becoming the most senior jurists, and a ridiculous number of benches and appointed offices remain empty since there likely aren't enough trustworthy corporatists to fill them. Better to leave them empty and inactive rather than risk losing control, it seems.

And even Democratic Party leaders appear to believe this, since they do nothing to appeal to the people, whose preferences are known to be the opposite of the actions of both parties.

There are signs of some real and valuable people stepping up to run as Democrats, but the Party's own actions indicate that their chances of success are slim. I await the news that Democratic money is used to support the corporatist Republican these candidates run against should they win their primaries.

I see this effort to work within the Party as wasted time, but until "hopeful" people for "change" can actually see that this strategy doesn't and can't work, they won't be ready to form a new party which does represent We the People.

The only question is: is there enough time before corporatism ends public participation in governance?

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Jacquie said...

What David Hiles @ 10:41 Said!

It's not a quick fix, but doable. Start at the bottom and work our way up.

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's not doable (from the bottom up). Long before anyone good at the bottom can rise through the ranks, they'll be primaried by the money that runs everything at the top.

You think that ever since Clinton formed the DLC in about '82 and the democrats sold out for corporate money that plenty of people like Howie haven't been busting their asses to redirect the democraps to their FDR roots? You think it's only failed because one more guy wasn't trying? You think that, in spite of all these fine people busting their humps, the steady and accelerating degradation of the democraps is a fluke? You think unicorns are real?

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:25, it is truly depressing to contrast the erudition of GW with the banal ignorance of DT. Language has no words to properly express my level of disgust at how far we've plummeted.

I only presume voters in GW's day understood what the message was. Almost immediately, political parties formed and the populace segregated itself thereto, which is a repudiation of much of his advice.

from Wiki's translation:

"Washington recognizes that it is natural for people to organize and operate within groups such as political parties, but he also argues that every government has recognized political parties as an enemy and has sought to repress them because of their tendency to seek more power than other groups and to take revenge on political opponents.[13] He feels that disagreements between political parties weakened the government.

Moreover, he makes the case that "the alternate domination" of one party over another and coinciding efforts to exact revenge upon their opponents have led to horrible atrocities, and "is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism." From Washington's perspective and judgment, political parties eventually and "gradually incline the minds of men to seek security... in the absolute power of an individual", leading to despotism.[14] He acknowledges the fact that parties are sometimes beneficial in promoting liberty in monarchies, but argues that political parties must be restrained in a popularly elected government because of their tendency to distract the government from their duties, create unfounded jealousies among groups and regions, raise false alarms among the people, promote riots and insurrection, and provide foreign nations and interests access to the government where they can impose their will upon the country."

We have been where He warned us not to go for over a century, but we are where his worst predictions warned us about for the past 3 decades.

We are ungovernable. There is an irreparable rift between the Rs and everyone else (who used to be represented by Ds but no more). Half of voters don't participate because there is no point, so all policy and what passes for governance is left to the hyperpartisan half that is equally split between 2 evil factions who care ONLY for their own enrichment and arrogation of power and not one iota about the welfare of the masses.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Mike Lumish said...

The political divide on the Left today is between those who - like Howie and his allies - want to kill the Democratic Party before turning on the Republicans and those who want to smack down the Republicans before turning to the internecine squabbling over which version of Socialism will prevail.

As a Social Democrat I hold that the first priority (given today's electoral environment) is to keep Republicans away from government power, as they - nihilists and fascists that they are - will always do tremendous damage to everything we on the Left hold dear. This imperative leads us to ally with the Liberal Democrats - for our own protection, if nothing else - until such time as we have a firm claim (which Bernie never had) on a majoritarian leadership role in the Democratic Party apparatus.


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