November 1, 2005

Battle for the soul of the Democratic Party


Consider the little graphic I created above. This represents what many, including myself, feel has happened over the past few decades, particularly in the last 15 years or so.

The lines represent the political spectrum from extreme left to extreme right, and where the party leadership has positioned the respective parties.

As the Republican party has increasingly been hijacked by the extreme right, including fundementalists and the many billionaire ideologues which have bankrolled an unprecedented propaganda campaign, including literally constructing a complete alternative media, which has succeeded in dragging the formerly mainstream media along for the ride.

In other words, the entire country, including the press, has been buffaloed into thinking that the country actually supports the far right and extreme positions these elites prefer.

I maintain this is simply false, as poll after poll proves that, especially on major issues, the country is firmly more aligned with the traditionally liberal policies than the extreme agenda of the far right represented by the Bush administration and congress.

This is all to set up the debate about what is the best strategy for the Democratic party and it's candidates to pursue.

The moderate/right wing of the party, represented by the Democratic Leadership Council, known as the group from which Bill Clinton emerged to great success, has taken the party far to the right in an effort to chase votes, and in the process, some say, have transformed the Democratic Party into being simply "Republican-light".
They advocate support for clearly right wing policies such as their support of NAFTA, GATT, and throwing millions off of welfare rolls and forcing single mothers to work at menial jobs, taking them away from their children, in order to get benefits, as well as many other issues clearly favored by the right.
One motivation in this extreme rightward shift is that by cow-towing to corporate powers, the Dems can rake in corporate contributions and remain competitive with the Republican party.
This has resulted in the American people being given a choice between corporate party number one and corporate party number two. The Democratic party which stood with the people and fought fiercely against measures which harm the middle class has largely vanished due to the tactics of the DLC.

It's resulted in the Democratic party being essentially further to the right than the Republican party of say, 1960.

Should the Democratic party continue to support and finance moderate/conservative candidates who essentially offer little or weak opposition to the agenda of the corporate right, thus ensuring the best government money can buy, or as I would suggest, should the party stop being afraid of standing up for he moderate liberal/progressive policies which has been it's bedrock and, I also believe, is what the majority of Americans support, given the chance.

As the graphic suggests, the Democratic party has abandoned and continue to ignore an enormous segment of it's traditional support. They scoff at Nader and those who gravitated to him, but that was dangerously arogant and foolish, in my opinion. I did not support Nader, but he certainly spoke the truth in many respects and the issues he raised about corporate dominance and the increasingly enormous income disparity which threatens the nature of our country should have received more serious attention.

But support Nader or not, the fact remains that there are many who fall far to the left of the Democratic leadership and politicians, and they would be wise to realize this. It can no longer be said that those who advocate a shift to the left, a shift after all, which is only back to where the party has traditionally been, are somehow fringe weirdo hippies.

Most of the nation supports traditional liberal values and policies and are sick to death of standing by while corporations run the country and write the laws for their own benefit and to the detriment of the middle class and poor. They do not agree with the draconian and downright cruel cuts in social services, including college grants, that the right supports.

So, is it smart for the Democrats to continue to try to stay as close to the far right as possible, to the point where for most people, the distinction between them are increasingly hard to see? Or should they instead, as many advocate, embrace the traditional liberal values and beliefs proudly, and forcefully and unappologetically put it before the American people and let them decide?

Should we continue to run scared ahead of the right wing proaganda campaigns? Shoudl we base our strategy and views based on the RESULTS of the massive lies and propaganda, or should we instead stand up and expose the lies and base our reaction on reality rather than constantly REACTING to the extreme right's disinformation campaign?

Or should we snap out of it and have the belief and conviction, much like the right of 20 years ago, to stand up and fight, even fail, in order to return to what we know are the true moral and socially responsible positions which has always made this country the greatest on earth?

Should we capitulate and adopt the view that the wealthy are more deserving of government largess than the needy? Should we meekly go along with the ongoing effort to allow corporations free reign to pollute as much as they wish, and then protect them from potential lawsuits? Should we continue to fail to be an opposition party, utterly failing to stand up and fight the right wing agenda, and being seen by Republicans and Democrats alike as weak, ineffective, and worthless?
A vast majority of Dems consider the Dems in congress to be a bunch of mealy-mouthed pansies. They don't see them doing much of anything to stand up for them in the face of this right wing jihad.

Yet we still have the DLC types saying we need to veer to the right. Don't dare stand up for controversial issues such as guns or universal health care, etc.
They maintain that the smart thing to do is to play it safe and craft a message which caters to voters who have been brainwashed by the right, rather than doing the hard work of showing these same voters that what they believe is not in their best interests nor the countries. Why not stand up for what's right rather than sucking up and operating from a position which assumes that all the right wing lies and distortions about the role of government and how helping the rich is always best is correct?

Are Dems going to sit around dithering waiting for some Republican to finally stand up and say enough is enough? Are they so pathetic that unless a Republican stands up and calls foul on Bush et. al. that nothing gets done?

Are the Dems going to stand by like lily-livered pansies until things get so extreme right that Republicans will have to stand up to oppose it?

Or are they standing around just waiting until Bush and Republicans self-destruct?

Why are they not instead forcefully and powerfully standing up and proudly advocating traditional liberal positions and making people realize just how far in the wrong direction this country has gone?

Or are they going to meekly go along, drifting further and further right in a cynical effort to get elected, and then, get stranded out on the right when the country inevitably swings back left?

Exactly when are the Dems going to make a stand instead of being swept along ever further to the right like a helpless leaf caught in a current?

There. That ought to stir up some opinions. ha! Have at it.

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