At a political meeting this past week I got to see just how great the level of denial among old-line Democrats is when a woman told the group that she felt uncomfortable and wasn’t sure she was in the right place because the conversation had turned to taking over the Democratic Party from the inside. I could see her discomfort. She appeared on the edge of a panic attack perhaps arising from the fear that she had inadvertently slipped into a political twilight zone where marching in lockstep with the orders from the Democratic National Committee was not the safe and sane path she believed.
She was right. Taking back our country from those who wish to dismantle every progressive gain made in the past 100 years will not be for the faint of heart. Doing more of the same will not work.
This morning I’m reading Glenn Greenwald’s Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention at The Intercept. Greenwald ledes:
The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.
An endless array of stunning statistics can be marshaled to demonstrate the extent of that collapse. But perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence is that even one of the U.S. media’s most stalwart Democratic loyalists, writing in an outlet that is as much of a reliable party organ as the DNC itself, has acknowledged the severity of the destruction. “The Obama years have created a Democratic Party that’s essentially a smoking pile of rubble,” wrote Vox’s Matthew Yglesias after the 2016 debacle, adding that “the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure.”
A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived—with good reason—to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.
No in my United States of America. I didn’t risk my life in the service of my nation for 11 years to quietly allow what I fought for just disappear into a billionaires bottom line. Greenwald continues:
What drove Bernie Sanders’s remarkably potent challenge to Hillary Clinton was the extreme animosity of huge numbers of Democrats—led by its youngest voters—to the values, practices, and corporatist loyalties of the party’s establishment. Unlike the 2008 Democratic primary war — which was far more vicious and nasty but devoid of any real ideological conflict—the 2016 primary was grounded in important and substantive disputes about what the Democratic Party should be, what principles should guide it, and, most important of all, whose interests it should serve.
That’s why those disputes have not disappeared with the inauguration of Trump, nor should they. It matters a great deal, perhaps more than anything else, who leads the resistance to Trump and what the nature of that opposition is. Everyone knows the popular cliché that insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes; it illustrates why Democrats cannot continue as is and expect anything other than ongoing impotence and failure. The party’s steadfast refusal to change course even in symbolic ways—We hereby elevate by acclamation Chuck “Wall Street” Schumer and re-install Nancy “I’m a multimillionaire and we are capitalists” Pelosi — bodes very poorly for its future success.
This, for me is the nut: Bernie voters were robbed, not by Bernie, but by that cadre of New Democrats who think they can be just progressive to placate the 99 percent while groveling at the feet of their oligarch masters.
All of this is preamble to what Greenwald really wants to write about: why we must all work our butts off to see that Keith Ellison is the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. As I would expect, Greenwald forms a far superior argument as to why Ellison is the right person at the right time for progressives, and I’ll leave him to convince you. Greenwald concludes:
One can spend all of one’s time and energy denouncing Donald Trump. But until the systemic causes that gave rise to him are addressed and resolved, those denunciations will do little other than generate social media benefits and flattering applause from those already devoted to opposing him. Focusing on and attempting to counter the fundamental flaws of the Democratic Party is not a distraction from #TheResistance; it is a central priority, a prerequisite for any kind of success.