Corporate Democrats Would Rather Lose Than Include Progressives

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When 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset a ten-term incumbent congressman in Queens, New York in a set of Democratic primaries that saw self-proclaimed democratic socialists in the Bernie Sanders mold pick up seats across the country, The New York Times (which, true to its institutional establishmentarianism, didn’t bother to cover her campaign) predicted that her victory would “reverberate across the party and the country.”

That was June 26th.

Now the Times’ fellow elitist rag The Washington Post is reacting to another round of Democratic primaries. This time it Hillary Clinton-like centrist-corporatists did well. “Signs of a Tea-Party-like movement in the Democratic Party that would throw winnable races to far-left candidates appear to be fading,” concluded David Weigel on August 8th.

Has the political world changed that much in six weeks? Of course not.

As Donald Trump said about something else entirely: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

What we’re reading and what is really happening is a big wet dollop of the freakouts we see from American pundits incapable of placing current events within a historical context. After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the czar in Russia, many Americans experienced “a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent — a revolution that would change Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life,” Murray Levin remembers in his book “Political Hysteria in America.” After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Francis Fukuyama made bank selling his book “The End of History,” arguing that neither communism nor any other alternative to capitalism would ever be viable again. He said we had arrived at “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” Both were alarmist and wrong: both capitalism and the communist ideal remain and will survive into the foreseeable future.

Then there’s my editor at Time magazine who, following 9/11, informed me that no one in America would ever be interested in humor or satire in any form ever again.

It’s OK to be shocked by big events. But things usually get back to normal.

For decades the normal within the Democratic Party has been a schism between left progressives (George McGovern, Howard Dean when he ran for president, Bernie Sanders) and centrist-corporatists (Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton). As I wrote in my essay for the Wall Street Journal, “Civil War in the Democratic Party”: “DNC-approved ‘mainstream’ presidential prospects have adopted left-leaning positions on a variety of issues. Yet the populist left doesn’t trust them, and for good reason. [Kamala] Harris was caught fundraising in the Hamptons; [Cory] Booker is too close to bankers; [Kirsten] Gillibrand may have vested too much in #MeToo; [Oprah] Winfrey is a billionaire arriviste. They’re all silent on the working class.”

The same dynamic is taking place in local races, where corporate Democratic candidates are adding some Bernie-like policy promises to their campaigns in order to attract the party’s leftist base. “The party’s establishment has embraced ideas like expanding the Affordable Care Act, shrinking the space between its leaders and its disrupters,” Weigel wrote. He quoted Washington Governor Jay Inslee: “Trump has been the great doctor, stitching up our scars and healing us organically.”

I doubt it. The evil Trump can’t heal what ails the Democratic Party. Though I noted in a different Journal piece the possibility that outsider attacks against the left by Republicans like Trump and James Comey might prompt centrists to defend them, leading to Democratic détente, what Weigel is describing is not coming together under a big left-leaning tent but rather the old 1960s conceptual tactic of co-option.

What the DNC and the centrist-corporatists who control it still refuse to accept is that anti-Republicanism — even anti-Trumpism — is not now, nor will it ever be, enough to lure the progressive populist left to the polls. Against history, against the 2016 election results, they assume that the default mode of a left-leaning voter is Democratic.

In fact, the natural state of a left voter — and of all American voters — is not voting. Most Americans do not vote. Most registered voters do not show up to most elections.

Voters go to the polls when they have an affirmative reason to do so: something to believe in. Someone to hate leaves them cold and they stay home. Centrist-corporatists liked what they saw in Hillary so they showed up in November 2016. Leftists and progressives did not so between three and four million Democrats who voted for Bernie in the primaries stayed home rather than vote for Hillary. Remember, primary voters are fanatics!

When they don’t vote, they mean it.

The cure for the Democratic civil war is simple: get behind and consistently push for, major progressive policies.

Jail the banksters. Restore Glass-Steagall. Bring home the troops. A $20/hour minimum wage. Free college tuition. Interest-free college loans. Medicare for all.

The DNC hires pollsters. They conduct focus groups. They analyze social media. They read exit polls. They must know why progressives aren’t that into them.

The fact that corporatist Democrats refuse to give progressives what they want leads me to an uncomfortable conclusion: they’d rather lose to the Republicans than govern as partners with progressives.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

54 thoughts on “Corporate Democrats Would Rather Lose Than Include Progressives

  1. Most Americans do not vote. Most registered voters do not show up to most elections.

    One of the (many) things I find odd, Ted, in that so-called «democracy» which is said to obtain in the United States is why citizens of that country who have reached voting age are required to «register» in order to vote. Here in Sweden the election authorities complete a list of eligible voters 30 days prior to the elections (which are held on a Sunday, i e, a holiday) – in the parliamentary elections, i e, Swedish citizens aged 18 years or older who have ever been registered as residing in Sweden (even foreign citizens aged 18 years or older who meet certain residency requirements can vote in local and county elections) – 30 days prior to elections and send a voter’s card to the registered post address of the person in question.Early voting begins 18 days prior to election day – I vote in the local branch library five minutes by bike from my home (there’s a polling place even closer, but I hold with tradition), and persons who, due to , e g, illness, advanced age, etc, can vote via a personally authorised agent or, in the event they do not have access to any such, election officials will come to home to them (this latter provision is new for this election). What does this mean for participation in elections ? In 2014, some 85.81 % of those eligible cast a ballot, which, whatever one might think of the results and the government thus created, did provide a certain degree of democratic legitimacy to the process….

    From what I have read about the corresponding procedure in the US, it seems rather designed to impede than to encourage participation in elections, particularly for certain groups, not least those less well off. Time for a change ?…

    Henri

    • NO!

      Your system would not work in an area as vast as the United States and would be open to all sorts of fraud, more than we already have.

      Americans who want to vote can be responsible about it.

      Btw, how does voting, particularly sending in election officials, work in Sweden’s many No-Go Zones, hmmm?

      Here’s to Jimmy Akesson! Go Swedish Democrats!

    • Hi Henri,

      Do not fret. Exciting change is occurring for US voting!

      As of the 2016 Dem primaries, that stalwart major party has courageously undertaken a program to finally close the ELECTION FRAUD GAP that many perceived it suffered relative to the GOP!!!!

      It’s like a breath of fresh air! Or is that a breath of air … downwind from the nation’s largest pig farm?

      • I’m not certain to just what you refer, falco – it’s not easy for a foreigner like myself to keep up, even if what happens your country has a major influence on the rest of us, not least here in Sweden, where our governments, of whatever colour, always play the obsequously loyal vassal – but I note that so-called «voter fraud» is hardly one of the major problems with your election system. From my point of view, the two main problems with the election system there are 1) the first-past-the-post system, which means that those who don’t appreciate the Tweedledum-Tweedledee nature of your two «major» parties are left without an effective voice in any politics but the most local and 2) perhaps as a consequence, a low level of voter participation (to avoid «moderation» here a URL (dailydot. com/layer8/voter-turnout-2016/) rather than a link). And then, there is, to my mind, the most important issue of them all, i e, just whose input on, e g, legislation matters, with regard to which, the Gilens-Page investigation (cambridge. org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B/core-reader), should lay to rest any lingering doubts and the conclusions of which hardly motivate greater participation in the system on the part of the electorate (a feature, I should argue, rather than a bug)….

        Well, be all that as it may, we here go to the polls on 9 September, you people on 6 November. Should anything good come of these exercises (I shall, as always, vote), it will be due more to luck than to skill….

        Henri

      • Hi Henri,

        I am familiar with the Gilens-Page study and agree with your assessment of it.

        There is a difference between “voter fraud” and “election fraud,” that to which my post referred. They are constantly being conflated with each other perhaps unknowingly in some instances but for more sinister reasons more often.

        In brief, voter fraud refers to actions of a single voter to essentially vote more than once. Genuine instances of it are, as you note, extremely rare. However, the GOP has screeched about it, loudly and incessantly to distract from its own efforts in election fraud,
        as below.

        I referred to ELECTION fraud – any one of a number of techniques employed to effect large numbers of votes, either increasing those for the desired candidate, decreasing those for the undesired, or both.

        It is anything from voter suppression (rampant in the US) to hacking into electronic machines, anywhere in the chain from those used by the individual voter to those that count votes.

        The following link is an article about the disbanding of the His Hairness “Election Commission” headed by the Kansas kretin Kris Kobach who developed the “Crosscheck” method of voter suppression having been justified, the method and the commission, on false claims of voter fraud. https://tinyurl.com/y9zy5urh

        Consult the writings and films of Greg Palast for more. Also see the Wikileaks compilation of 2016 DNC emails, to which my post was referring.

      • «The following link is an article about the disbanding of the His Hairness “Election Commission” headed by the Kansas kretin Kris Kobach who developed the “Crosscheck” method of voter suppression having been justified, the method and the commission, on false claims of voter fraud. https://tinyurl.com/y9zy5urh» I linked to the ProPublica article on the fate of the same commission in my previous post ; don’t know whether you missed it….

        Henri

      • Hi Henri,

        Yes, I skimmed right over it in my haste to differentiate voter fraud from election fraud.

  2. Ted’s last paragraph is the key. When Democrats loose, the professional Democrats still keep their jobs. They have losing track records and they are always rehired. I have to wonder what party they actually work for. We ought to look at THAT “collusion”. Looks like a Trojan horse.
    Sabotaging progressives that are preferred by the voters is just par for the course.
    When it comes to “throwing the bums out”, start with the career Dems. The public may just be in the mood right about now to just do that.
    Trump’s “win” was due to anti-Clinton votes and people to disgusted to go to the polls.

  3. “After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Francis Fukuyama made bank selling his book “The End of History,” arguing that neither communism nor any other alternative to capitalism would ever be viable again. He said we had arrived at “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” Both were alarmist and wrong: both capitalism and the communist ideal remain and will survive into the foreseeable future.”

    Far be it from me to interfere with Fukuyama’s silly book being kicked while it is down some more, but the communist ideal, though not completely gone, really has been vastly marginalised all around the world. Most communist parties either aren’t very communist or aren’t very influential – often neither. What is more, the kind of broader social and cultural milieu in which it once spread has been largely wiped out. I don’t think it’s getting back up again. As for alternatives to liberal democracy or centrist oligarchy (which may be a fairer name for the reality behind what Fukuyama was talking about), well, new ones might emerge, but they haven’t yet.

  4. There has never been a “Bolshevik revolution” that overthrew a Tsar in Russia. The Bolsheviks did overthrow a by then Socialist Revolutionary-dominated Provisional Government, though – I assume that’s what you meant.

    That aside, this seems true enough – the Democrats (both the party elite and a substantial part of the rank and file) do not want to win at the cost of any changes they would find uncomfortable or inconvenient, which is a very useful lens to keep in mind while America-watching.

  5. It’s a great article, Ted. But why not a few more items on the to do list? You’ve set the table, give us the meat.

    Raise taxes on the rich and corporations, lower taxes (including local/sales/gas) for regular folks, UBI, ban stock buybacks, ban offshore tax shenanigans, a sovereign wealth fund that nationalizes green energy and internet.

    Legalize and regulate drugs, gambling, prostitution. Put the gangsters (and gung ho cops) out of business and practice harm reduction.

    • Seriously Dude, you do these articles, what, quarterly? Next time, go for it. Have 20 amazing things in your list. Why not? I think it would add weight to your argument. You’ve got the set up down. 2 cents, cheers.

    • One more: our approach to crime is to punish the guilty; we should instead concentrate on protecting the innocent.

      When that fails, we need to assist the victims. Too often they are left by the wayside.

      • I read Finland has a progressive traffic-fine system. Fine amounts are based on the individuals average hourly wage. A billionaire got a $37,000 ticket for speeding. Now that’s civilized.

  6. The bottom line is that only 22% of progressives won in elections thus far this year. Abdul el-Sayed got clobbered in Michigan. Cori Bush and Brent Welder both lost.

    Betting on the platform of Ocasio-Cortez is not a winning horse. Americans are not rushing left.

  7. And, of course, if the Democrats really cared about human rights, they would be screaming about U.S. support for the Saudi terror bombing of Yemen.

    But the Democrats really don’t care and that is why all their talk amounts to drivel.

    • To AT:

      This site is run by a painfully honest broker regarding the Democratic Party. Ted is supported by several commentators who support his view that “tribalism went out a couple thousand years ago as a viable organizing principle for humans.”

      In that vein, yes, Obumma started the Yemen atrocity.*

      I suggest that your time would be amply filled by assuming the same role towards the Republicans who 1) control the entire federal government and 2) as such are now equally responsible for Yemen.

      • PS: The footnote denoted by “*” above is as follows.
        ———
        * see “the Obumma Legacy” point #1, at this site’s previous comment section at address, below:

        “Called the Bush family ‘good people.’ Said their many atrocities should not be prosecuted because, apparently, there was so little time and so many NEW, ‘signature’ atrocities for HIM to commit … ”

        Can be found @ https://tinyurl.com/yazhfjyr

      • And PPS:

        To AT

        Your “the Democrats,” above, comprise about 75% of their members in the House and >90% in the Senate who, despite “the Resistance,” vote in (jack boot) lock-step with His Hairness.

      • Falco,

        My point was that Democrats pretend to care about human rights.

        >Tribalism went out a couple thousand years ago.

        There is you, your family, and those who look like your family. People want to be with those who look like them. It’s nature. This country is very diverse, but it is very segregated.

    • To AT,

      I’m NOT defending the Democrats.

      THE point is that NEITHER of the two major US political parties care about human rights.

      This for a country which justifies its many and varied murderous adventures around the world ( i.e. the OTHER 95%) precisely upon the notion that it is defending human rights.

      I condemn them both. You are among the proud cosmic hypocrites.

      • Hold on, buddy. I don’t support these neocon wars. Look back at my comments.

      • To AT,

        Please divest yourself of the idiotic notion that
        I am your buddy.

        Find your own previous posts as I am neither your secretary.

      • Falco, pal,

        Unfortunately, I don’t have a secretary to do that sort of drudgery for me so I will simply state that I do not support sending my family to fight these neocon wars.

        Here’s to leaving Iran alone.

        Hope this suffices.

    • I love your column, and agree entirely that Democrats do not, by and large, care about human rights.

      But what does that have to do with anything? Embracing radical left-wing positions at home does not necessarily require having any clear, consistent and binding commitment to human rights – let alone in foreign policy, an entirely different sphere. Certainly no one would win an election on that, and surely no one would seriously try to.

      • To DaniilAdamov,

        I assume you addressed your comment, above, to Ted. In that case, perhaps you might want to repost it at the top of the thread where he will have a better chance of seeing it.

      • No, Falco, that was to the American Teacher. Rall didn’t even mention human rights or Yemen.

      • Daniil,

        I did not realize the your comment was addressed to the American Teacher.

        It is true that radical left-wing positions at home have nothing to do with foreign policy, but the Democrats do tout themselves as the party of principles. In fact, they have been the war-mongering party for most of the nation’s history.

    • oh, pul-eeeeeze.

      You actively work against human rights every chance you get.

      “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:15

      While you’re at it, you should read the rest of chapter. It starts with “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

  8. 1) A general thesis one can hardly deny. In her 2016 campaign HRC cozied up with county club Repubs, neo-cons and the proto-Cheney, i.e. Henry Kissinger. She proclaimed that she could work with Repubs in congress. We must take her intentions as she spoke them but certainly many of her potential voters a) did not want that and b) realized, as she could not, that from the perspective of a GOP congress, the only “work” a president HRC would have been facing would be defending herself in an impeachment suit followed by criminal sedition charges.

    2) Re: “After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the czar in Russia, many Americans experienced ‘a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent — a revolution that would change Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life’.” Seems them effin’ godless Russkis have been gaslighting the collective, pristine, if pathologically fragile, American psyche for at least a century!

    3) Re: “Leftists and progressives did not, so between three and four million Democrats who voted for Bernie in the primaries stayed home rather than vote for Hillary.” I sure would like to see that applied to WI, MI and PA voters.

    4) Re: ” … the Times’ fellow elitist rag The Washington Post … ” Shouldn’t that be, instead: “the Times’ fellow elitist rag, and unabashed propaganda outlet of the CIA, The Washington Post”? (Remember, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT the message you want heard.”

    • PS
      5) Re: ” … outsider attacks against the left by Republicans like … James Comey … ”
      Please add to my “Obumma legacy,” list from a prior post, the retention/appointment of Republicans to cabinet/top intelligence positions in his administration.

  9. Another winner on the Democratic progressive platform is, of course, abolishing ICE.

    This, of course, when the NY Post reports that 174 pounds of marijuana, valued at $86,000, were seized at the Arizona border.

    We need to control our border more than ever.

    • You seem to have difficulty with the concept of ’cause and effect’ – the war on drugs is one of the biggest drivers of problems down south.

      You want fewer refugees? End the war. Of course, that would also result in fewer lives lost, but that doesn’t seem to be too big a concern for you.

  10. One wonderful progressive idea was left out of Ted’s column: ending the cash bail system.

    Sponsored by Bernie, The No Money Bail Act of 2018 would allow the wonderful criminal element of our society to go free as they await their trials.

    Imagine how spectacular it will be to have 80-90% of those arrested back out on the streets!

    • @American Gym Teacher –

      Are you familiar with the phrase “equal justice under the law”? It was kind of a big deal to The Founders. How about “presumption of innocence until proven guilty”?

      Today, the rich and the poor have a different systems of ‘justice.’ A guilty rich guy doesn’t have to stay in a cell awaiting his trial; where an innocent poor guy loses his job & his house because he can’t afford to buy his way out.

      Did you even bother to read the act before commenting? It isn’t about letting jailbirds walk, but rather to find *alternatives* so the poor aren’t penalized simply for being poor.

      Among other benefits, the act would reduce the population awaiting trial, resulting in substantial savings.

      • >resulting in substantial savings.

        …resulting in more crime.

        Most people charged with crimes plea their way out because the prisons are already filled…with criminals.

      • We’re not talking about people who have been convicted. We’re talking about people awaiting trial.

        Can you please explain exactly what part of ‘presumption of innocence” it is that you don’t understand?

      • Sure, let’s go with that. Innocent poor guy who rents his home is incarcerated. He loses his job, can’t pay rent, and his family is out on the street.

        He’s finally acquitted, and has no job, no rental how and his family is hungry. How does he support his family?

        Congratulations! You just *created* a criminal. As with the War on [some] Drugs, the wingnut philosophy creates the very problems it claims to be solving.

  11. Why would a government that since the end of World War 2 (as William Blum notes) :

    “Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically- elected.

    “Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

    “Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

    “Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

    “Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

    “Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.”

    take its feet off of the necks of its own progressive people and allow more than the window dressing of a democratic form of government?

    • @glenn, recently some RWNJ or other was complaining about the librul media –

      If the media is so liberal, how is it that Joe Sixpack is ignorant of the actions taken on his behalf? I am huge fan of the principles this country is *supposed* to have – the reality, not so much.

      • Presumably by “liberal” he didn’t mean “honest and civic minded”, but rather “wobbling with the Democratic party line”.

  12. “The fact that corporatist Democrats refuse to give progressives what they want leads me to an uncomfortable conclusion: they’d rather lose to the Republicans than govern as partners with progressives.”

    The Democratic Party undemocratically sided with corporatist Hillary Clinton and against relatively progressive (and likely Trump-beater) Bernie Sanders in choosing to lose in 2016.

    Democrats, like the proverbial tiger, give me no reason to suspect they have changed their stripes.

  13. Perhaps there is a group of voters who vote every election regardless of anything other than the calendar and their favorite team. Fear obviously plays a role, but one person’s fears are another person’s warm and fuzzy. Ted’s non-voters might very well be the ones who make the difference. Trump has his fanatics and so did Hillary, except in a few key states where she lost the electoral college. If what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says is true, “Our swing voter is not red to blue, it’s non-voter to voter.” Within that matrix, Ted’s thoughts are highly accurate, and sadly so is his conclusion: the DNC prefers to lose rather than support winning progressive candidates.

  14. > Voters go to the polls when they have an affirmative reason to do so

    I do not believe this is true. Voters go to the polls when they’re scared of something – that’s been a winning strategy for the repugs for decades. So … if voters are scared of Trump and encroaching fascism, that’s undeniably a good thing.

    We should be thanking the Trump Chumps and Koolaid parties, they’ve done more for the left than all the Hillaries and O’bummers combined.

    (FWIW: I agree with 98.6% of this column – I’m only highlighting the 1.4% with which I disagree)

    • “We should be thanking the Trump Chumps and Koolaid parties, they’ve done more for the left than all the Hillaries and O’bummers combined. ”

      Have they though? It seems to me that they just gave the Democratic party elite an excellent way to make the left either fall in line or go home, without the said elite needing to meet them even a quarter of the way.

      • Hello, Daniil

        I always appreciate astute observations from a different point of view.

        I think we need to define our terms. Yes, I believe that Trump has been good for ‘mainstream Democratic candidates.’ More of them will get elected.

        That, in turn, will be good for the Democratic Party.

        And that will be good for the ‘crazy far left’ (Ted and Bernie and their fans) to some degree. How much remains to be seen, but any tilt leftward helps.

      • CrazyH, ah, so you’re saying it will be good for the Left in the longer run rather than in the near term? i.e. if the Democrats win in 2018 and 2020, the Left will have more freedom of maneuver afterwards? I suppose it depends on the size of the win. If they win just barely or do better but fall short of winning, the mainstream Democrats will still have a great deal of leverage over the Left (internal dissent will help Trump!) and will use to suppress it. On the other hand if the Democrats win big, then that leverage would be gone and the Left will be able to assert itself more strongly within the power.

        Plus, of course, if the Republicans win big instead, the Left will be marginalised all the more strongly.

        Is that the gist of it? If so, then I suppose you’re right, but the differences in degree could be huge depending on the specific situation. I’m just wondering if there is any chance of the British Labour scenario happening in America. (i.e. the centre-left party gets beaten and humilated but not totally crushed and its left wing takes over and makes it more viable by embracing left-wing populism.) If that were possible, it would be better for the American left in the longer run than the centrist Democrats winning now. If…

      • @Daniil – more or less. Admittedly, it’s a small hope – but it’s better than none at all.

  15. Ted,

    I am waiting for the midterms. I think once the midterms are over, there will be a clear message. And like Peter, Paul and Mary sang, either help or get out of the way.

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