The Democratic Party
Note: When I refer to the Democratic party I am referring to the post-reconstruction party, not its previous incarnation in the south before the civil war. I also need to clarify that there are strong, progressive voices within the Democrats, but too often they are silenced in the aggregate of the Democratic Party as a whole; these progressives (Grijalva, Grayson, Warren, etc.) not only do not deserve to be tarred under the same brush as the rest of the party but are, in my opinion, the future of the party.
Over the past four decades, the Democratic Party has been a large tent party which supports labor, the middle class, and equal rights for minorities/women. Democrats have also been the driving force behind civil rights advances, entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) that benefit the poor and middle class, and environmental protections that have prevented our rivers from continuing to catch on fire. Democrats have also traditionally supported humane immigration policy and women’s reproductive rights but there has always been more variation in beliefs for these two issues.
The current incarnation of the Democratic Party resembles the Democratic Party of the late 20th century in the same way a Chihuahua and a malamute resemble each other—they are both dogs, although one is strong while the other is whiny, irritating, and hides under the bed when intimidated. The current Democratic Party insists on compromise to the point of complete ineffectiveness and has refused to fight back against Republican extremism in a vast majority of cases (excepting extreme cases like the debt ceiling).
When the Democratic weakness is combined with the insane radicalism of the Republicans, the result is that the Democrats are no longer liberal nor progressive but rather centrist.
A majority of Democratic politicians seem largely incapable of showing any spine either in defense of their views or their fellow Democrats. Because of this, the Democrats have gradually been pulled over to the right through compromise and refusing to draw a line in the sand.
To the Republicans and corporate interests, the Democratic Party is essentially one of those blowup-punching bag clowns; irritating, impossible to completely knock over due to its heavy base re-righting it, but at the same time completely incapable of fighting back or protecting itself.
Somehow many of the deals between the Democrats and Republicans end up with the Republicans getting more than the initially asked for (See: 2011 Debt ceiling fight or budget debate for examples of this). Whenever two groups get together and start haggling, the ideal is that they eventually compromise in the middle. However, the Democratic Party has capitulated in some such haggling sessions to the point where the agreed upon “compromise” is actually more right wing than the Republican’s initial position.
Unfortunately the Democratic Party is by far the best choice for political representation in the current national debate because while they are severely flawed, they are the only thing standing against a group which actively wants to destroy the US government and install a cross between a Christian version of the Taliban and an Ayn Randian dystopia.
While the Democratic Party is weak, ineffective, and makes deals which even the average middle school student can see border upon complete capitulation, they have two things going for them: First and foremost, they are better (and far more sane) than the Republican alternative. Secondly, they have a few strong voices that, if given a chance, could reform the party out of its current weakness and into one that could do a huge amount of good for the country.
The Republican Party
Note: I am not talking about the historic Republican Party in this post, but rather the Republican Party of the last 40 years. The Republicans spent decades as a legitimate political party, with an ideology based in reality, but in recent decades, they have degrades into a shadow of their previous selves.
The Grand Old Party (also referred to as the Gas and Oil Party, or Greed Over People party by those who pay attention) is a party that uses three major ideas to unite a collection of libertarians, corporatists, neo-confederates, theocrats, warhawks, anarcho-capitalists, and elderly conservatives who are terrified of losing “their country” to “illegals, blacks, atheists and gays.”
- Lower taxes and Cut services/abolish the welfare state;
- Shrink government and give power to the people;
- Impose social conservative morality on America, or make it possible for powerful individuals to discriminate against others until they conform
While these three ideals are the central tenants of modern conservatism, there is a bipolarity of beliefs in the Republican Party for every such goal and their policies express this divide:
1) Lower taxes and cut services/abolish the welfare state — This Republican ideal, when expressed in policy, boils down into cutting THEIR taxes and cutting OTHER PEOPLE’ services and economic welfare programs. The same people who are the first to complain about unemployment benefits to the poor or single mothers would have a collective seizure if their Medicare or Social Security were ten seconds late.
In addition to the endemic selfishness in the policies of taxing and cutting, republicans as a group, seem to have no comprehension as to what pays for defense, roads, disaster relief, and education. The Republican base seem to see no connection between the taxes that they pay and the services that the receive, instead attributing the services to something akin to magical fairies fixing the roads at night; but god help their representative if the roads start breaking down or if the underpaid and disrespected teachers are unable to teach their 50 student classes well enough that every one of their children gets into a good college.
2) Shrink government and give power to the people — Republicans, as a group, hate what they see as government overreach into their lives, while, at the same time, want the government to reach into the lives of other in order to regulate their behavior. Classic examples of rights Republicans demand but are inconsistent upon are personal rights such as the right to bear arms and, the freedom of religion.
Here are two such examples:
- Many Republicans want to be able to own any gun including assault rifles and to carry it anywhere they want. At the same time Republicans are trying to use 10th amendment arguments to secure the right to carry bazookas, they disregard the exact same argument in favor of gay marriage.
- Republican fundamentalists demand the right to not only practice their religion but insert it into the public discourse while at the same demonizing other religions, particularly Muslims, and attempting to take their rights. Ironically, the same people who are pushing for a Christian theocracy are those who demonize American Muslims for the Sharia laws of other Muslims half the world away. This situation makes one wonder whether they dislike the idea of Muslim laws or whether they are simply jealous that the Sharia law proponents have succeed in controlling the population and oppressing women, while they haven’t been nearly as successful.
3) Imposing social conservative views on the country — The Republican base is, for the most part, socially conservative and feels the need for to impose these views on everybody else through legislation. While a majority of the Republican base feels the need to impose their views through legislation, they react extremely badly to what they perceive as others reaching into their lives.
Many libertarian Republicans dislike attempts to mix religion and politics, but the sad fact is that they are hopelessly outmanned within the Republicans and elected GOP officials have made concrete steps towards imposing Christian values on public policy.
In addition to the bipolar nature of Republcian values, the modern Republican electorate has developed the habit of electing unbelievably stupid candidates to office. Politicians such as Bush, Palin, Bachmann, West, and Perry are all examples of unbelievably stupid Republican politicians who have garnered enough support to get elected in recent years. I can find no elected Democratic politician who matches these Republicans for shear lack of knowledge or intelligence. While it is entirely excusable for a few ignorant politicians to get elected based upon their charisma or just luck, the volume of ignorant Republicans is so high that it indicates a party wide problem rather than a few isolated cases.
The combination of stupid politicians, large amounts of corporate money and illogical, religiously based, beliefs has turned the Republican Party into a caricature of its past self. Even Ronald Reagan would be considered too liberal to survive in the current Republican Party; a party that has adopted a kamikaze like mentality where the government and economy can crash and burn while they get paid just as long as they have their bibles and get paid by their true bosses (See: The 2011 debt ceiling fight as an example).
GOP Subcategory: The Tea Party
The Tea party is often portrayed as separate from the Republican Party, sharing most of their views but operating on a more populist hierarchy. Put simply, this is false, and they are simply the most extreme fringe of the extreme right wing that has tried to rebrand itself using millions in corporate donations.
The Tea baggers are essentially a distillation of the white, old, middle class right wingers of the Republican Party. Tea baggers as a group know nothing and are perversely proud of it leading them to act like right wing political lemmings (I seriously question the intelligence of a conservative Christian political group which accidentally names itself after a gay sex act and is surprised when people mock them). Corporations, notably the Koch brothers and various Karl Rove affiliates bankroll these gullible people to act against their own interest in order to help the rich. Ironically, the Tea baggers are just the people who would stand to benefit from the policies that they are hell-bent on opposing.
In a battle of wits and facts, the Tea Party has unilaterally disarmed, but they do make up for it with nastiness, dedication and decibels. This has allowed them to paralyze the federal government and it appears as though they are going to be around until their donors decide that they are simply too extreme to support.
Agreed on all counts. Where do we start? Getting the dark money out of politics? That would take enough “honest” politicians to OK the vote, and notably – Elizabeth Warren’s bill to do just that was rounded rejected by the GOP. As all right wing platforms aim for less education and fewer Democratic voters allowed, where is the key that unlocks the magic door of change?
Reblogging on the New NY 23rd blog and my personal page, with thanks.
Some minor thoughts: I don’t see either party compromising. Part of the problem with politics today is a lack of respect for opponents. Does it help your case to refer to the Tea Party as Tea baggers? Although I disagree with the Tea Party, I find it offensive to hear you state that they are so stupid that they named themselves after a gay sex act. The name is The Tea Party. Do you realize that deriding them as tea baggers also derides gays who partake in this actvitity. Perhaps it is your intention to insult both groups at the same time. Attack the conservative agenda and ideas with intelligent analysis, not with emotion better left to those to young to vote.
You are promoting respect for the Republicans and Tea Party where none is warranted. Their policy platform is non-factual, they are hopelessly corrupt, and their politicians are demonstrably stupid (ex. Gohmert). Over the past few years, they have shut down the government, opposed policies that they support because Obama agrees with them, and have engaged in a tactic of complete obstruction, where they have put political considerations over the interests of the American people.
In short, they deserve no respect.
The sooner that the American people realize that the Democrats are the only legitimate political party in this country–as corrupt and weak as them may be–the sooner we will develop another party to balance the scales back into a legitimate two-party model.
P.S. That attempt at calling me homophobic is pathetic: https://theprogressivecynic.com/debunking-right-wing-talking-points/refuting-anti-gay-rights-arguments/
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Your analysis is more or less accurate but I feel as though it lacks nuance due to bias. The Tea Party cannot simply be explained away as a fringe group of extremists any more than Occupy Wall Street. Both are a reflection of a populist outrage at the system and both embrace a broad and diverse coalition within their camps. Even Noam Chomsky has criticized the left for demonizing the Tea Party rather than reaching out to them as a genuine expression of popular sentiment. I also think your a bit to excusing of the Democrats, who while I agree are spineless are often not merely passive compromisers but active and enthusicatic participants in the status quo (as Glen Greenwald put it, the worst things actions in Washington are equally supported on a fully bipartisan basis). The Democrats aren’t being dragged kicking and screaming into doing things they don’t want, but working with the Republicans as coequals in many of the so-called compromises. The Republican party has moved from the center right (even GW Bush, horrible and religious though he may be, was actually fairly moderate, he was on the far right end of the center, but he was still at least in the center in both tolerable and horrible ways) to a sort of syncretic hybrid of paleoconservative domestic policy and neoconservative national security and foreign policy with a libertarian streak in economics. The Democratic party has moved from the center left to a sort of authoritarian paternalist interpretation of social democracy with strong elements of corporatism (what Ralph Nader has called “corporate socialism”) This has led to a status quo that breeds the worst elements of the left and right together. Some of your shots at the Republican’s libertarian policies are oft repeated cliches that don’t stand up to scrutiny. There are a few outliers in both parties, but by and large they both are corrupt in different ways, but that doesn’t mean every Republican or even the Republican party as a whole are bunch of dumb rednecks nutjobs. I feel you fail to take into account moderates, secular and purely fiscal conservatives into your analysis of the party though I admit it has been dominated by radicals in post-2008 presidential elections. Also, roads education and even social welfare could and would exist in a libertarian society, they would just be voluntarized and /or localized to the greatest degree possible, which actually isn’t much different than the Green Party’s philosophy of cooperativism and grassroots organization.
Here is something to consider. What do you see when you watch CSPAN and view hearings, debates and Congress voting? You mostly see a bunch of wealthy, old white men in suites with the occasional female or black or Hispanic or Asian politician both Republican and Democrat. Wake up liberals. The Democrats don’t care about you, they only claim to in order to get your votes. Once they are in office, they turn out to be just plain old politicians out to line their own pockets. Are there any videos of senators or representatives from the Democratic Party using marijuana with the voters in Colorado? At least with Republicans you can expect a little more honesty and higher moral fiber.
Aside from your attempt to dissuade Liberals from the “darkside” Joe, you have point about one thing – all politicians spend half of their terms raising money for the next election. Rarely are politicians able to raise the gigantic amounts of money needed for today’s elections without going beyond the grassroots donors. So, without calling out either “side” as evil, can we agree that getting rid of the “dark” money ( from those PACS ( both right and left) and huge donations from corporations) in campaigns, would do two good things? 1) if money is “speech” ( as our dear SCOTUS tells us it is) wouldn’t it be fair to limit campaign contributions of all politicians to the same amounts ( public funding for all campaigns); this would more guarantee an equality of representation of the person, not their ability to make slick ads and buy influence; and 2) having that public funding limitation, could enable legislators and the Executive branch to take the time to do their jobs, not just fundraise.
Sorry Joe, but that is total and utter BULLCRAP.
See, this is the difference between Democrats and Repubes:
Democrats tell the truth to help the weakest in society.
Repubes tell lies to help the rich … and themselves…
Give concrete examples of Democrats “lining their pockets”. Repubs suppress the vote of mostly the poor. You’re hypocrites on Voter photo ID, because we can buy guns without any photo ID. Billionaires can buy politicians without any ID
Plus, if you really cared about Voter ID, you would pay for all the underlying costs of getting one.
So really, spare me about the “honesty” of RepubliKKKan politicians AND voters.
Really, tell me what is honest about calling yourself a Family Values voter, and re-electing major adulterers like
Newt Gingrich – adultery WHILE scapegoating/railroading Clinton on Lewinsky…
John McCain – adultery and divorce of cancerriden spouse
Rudy Giuliani – adultery and divorce of cancerriden spouse
Arnold Schwarzenegger – sexual harassment
Bob Dole – adultery
John Ensign – adultery
Bill O’Reilly – Sexual harassment
Helen Chenoweth (R – Idaho) – serial adultery (gives special meaning to the phrase ‘I da ho’,
Larry “wide stance” Craig,
Mike “pageboy” Foley
George “www.rentboy.com” Reker
Steve Symms – (R- Idaho) – serial adultery
Neal Horsley (freely admitted to sex with animals on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes.)
Sue Myrick (adultery),
George Roche III (adultery with his son’s wife),
Then you also elect complete nutcases like Gohmert, Bachman, nominate Angle and witch O’Donnell, rape-apologists like Akin
Wow, real honest.
Ted Bundy campaigned for the Republican Party. Infamous serial rapist who murdered 16 women.
John Bolton: George W. Bush’s latest Ambassador to United Nations. Corroborated allegations that
Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the
State Department. http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/larry_flynt_bolton_511
Rick Santorum, used $100,000 of PA state funds earmarked for that state’s school children to educate his own
children, who were not residents of Pennsylvania. source (http://www.postgazette.com/pg/04323/413787.stm)
Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman from Pensacola, Florida, currently a conservative talk show
host. Resigned his congressional seat abruptly to spend more time with his family, amidst allegations of an
affair. His intern, Lori Klausutis, was soon after found dead in his office. The medical examiner, who had
his license revoked in Missouri for falsifying information in an autopsy report, and suspended in Florida for
six years, ruled the case an accident, after giving conflicting information about her injuries. He said he
lied about them because “The last thing we wanted was 40 questions about a head injury.”
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, right wing conservative radio host. Promotes family values, but estranged from her
mother; opposes birth control, but has had her tubes tied; espouses saving oneself for marriage, but admits
to having had sex before she was married; opposes adultery, but has committed adultery while she was married,
and has slept with a married man; opposes divorce, but is divorced and remarried, has posed for nude photos
which are available online.
Prospective RNC Head Ken Mehlman – Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies
TV evangelist Paul Crouch – Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies, accused of bilking flock
Not popular anymore because they’re gay:
Sen. Larry “wide stance” Craig, Rep. Mark Foley and Rep. David Dreier – Closeted gays who supports
anti-gay policies and who sollicited men for sex.
Although, the homosexual Mark “I like pageboys” Foley DID advise Nathan Wests campaign … and lost.
50 more, (admittedly not just adultery but other immoral acts from murder to draft dodging) with
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Agreed on all counts.
What we would need is getting money out of politics
What we could directly do, all of us, right now, is making all of these points, but in short soundbites, because that is where we lose, at least, Democrats in debate often sound very professorial, and not at all pointedly making the point.
Example: “If people kill people, what do you need guns for?”
Case in point: Shaheens debate with Scott Brown (yes, she won the race but not by virtue of her debate style)
He was saying “didn’t you vote with Obama 99 percent of the time?”
As a response, she made some good points but in an belabored, overly elaborate way.
She could have said something like:
“We got people health care, why didn’t you vote with Obama?”
“We rescued Detroit, why didn’t you vote with Obama?”
“We got students cheaper loans,, why didn’t you vote with Obama?”
I hope you get the picture.
I know that good slogans might seem superficial, but I really feel that being overly professorial will lose us vote. Dems lack crisp clear statements that boil down to the heart of issues.
Clinton also likes to rattle of lists, which make no real impact.
Good timing on your comment–my post today is actually exactly a part of my progressive strategy series that is in line with your comment to the letter: https://theprogressivecynic.com/2014/11/19/progressive-tactics-unified-wordsmithing/