FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Democrats Can’t Defend the Country from the Retrograde GOP

by RALPH NADER

The Congress, that polls show the American people would like to replace in its entirety, has “kicked the can down the road” again, putting off the government shutdown until January 15th and another debt ceiling showdown until February 7th.

The polls also show, convincingly, that people blame the stubborn Republicans more than the Democrats for the adverse effects of the impasse on workers, public health, safety, consumer spending, recreational parks and government corporate contracts.

There is another story about how all this gridlock came to be, fronted by the question: “Why didn’t the Democrats landslide the cruelest, most ignorant, big-business-indentured Republican Party in its history during the 2010 and 2012 Congressional elections? (See “The Do Nothing Congress: A Record of Extremism and Partisanship”)

There are a number of answers to this fundamental political question. First and most obvious is that the Democrats are dialing for the same commercial campaign dollars, which beyond the baggage of quid pro quo money, detours the Party away from concentrating on their constituents’ needs, in a contrasting manner with the GOP.
Democrats like Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Dem. Ohio) tell me that when the House Democrats get together in an election year, they go into the meetings talking about money and walk out talking about money, burdened with the quotas assigned by their so-called leadership.

Last year, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Dem. Calif.) was reported to have attended 400 fundraisers in DC and around the country for her campaigning Democrats. Helping Democratic candidates with fundraising is a major way she asserts her control over them. Over ninety percent of the Democrats in the House defer to her and do not press her on such matters as upping the federal minimum wage, controlling corporate crime, reducing corporate welfare giveaways, reasserting full Medicare for all, diminishing a militaristic foreign policy and other policies reputed to be favored by the Party’s Progressive Caucus, numbering 75 Representatives. Instead, the Progressive Caucus remains moribund, declining to press their policy demands on leader Pelosi, as the hardcore Tea Partiers do with their leaders.

So when election time comes around, voters do not know what the Democrats stand for other than to save Social Security and Medicare from the Republicans. Former Senator and Presidential candidate Gary Hart, now living in Denver, said last year that the local Democrats in Denver didn’t know what the national Democrats stood for.

The 2010 election was crucial for the winners in the state government races who gained the upper hand in redistricting decisions for a decade. That meant more gerrymandered one-party dominated districts. The Republicans won a majority of those gubernatorial and state legislative races and took over the U.S. House of Representatives with Speaker John Boehner (Rep. Ohio) and his curled-lip deputy, Eric Cantor (Rep. Va.).

And there is also President Obama’s political selfishness. Obama knew that he could not govern with a knee-jerk blocking Republican House of Representatives. Yet he did not provide serious campaign support and progressive policy leadership for Democratic candidates. Consequently he was overcome in 2011 by the Republican demands for sharp cuts in federal budgets serving people, while exempting corporate entitlements from similar cuts, and the spectre of government shutdowns and Republicans in Congress refusing to raise the government’s debt ceiling to pay current debts, during his first term Presidency.

So you’d think that in 2012 President Obama would run arm-in-arm with Congressional Democrats. No way. He not only signaled his “going it alone” approach by turning down a Democrat’s request for $30 million from his billion dollar campaign hoard, but he had little interest in campaigning with the local Congressional candidates as he travelled around the country. The House Democrats were dismayed, but kept quiet.

So he got the Boehner/Cantor duo for another two years after the 2012 election. That meant another shut-the-government-down don’t-lift-the-debt-ceiling imbroglio – a clash that crowded out all the necessities and the matters of justice that our government is supposed to champion. The greed and power of the Walmarts, the Exxons, the Aetnas, the Lockheed Martins and the rest of the global corporate power structure that has turned its back on taxpaying, American workers and their families remains unchecked by our government.

Fast forward to the elections of 2014. No House Democrat believed, until the recent Congressional impasse, that the Democrats would win back the House in 2014. Given that many House-passed Republican votes since 2011 sided with big business, on the wrong side of fair treatment of children, student borrowers, workers, women, consumers, small taxpayers and providing necessary public services, one would think the Democrats should win next year in a slam dunk. Not likely, unless the Republican echo chamber, with its “mad dog” extremists, hand control of the House to the Democrats.

From the Nineteen Forties to the Nineteen Nineties, the Republican Party did not behave as badly as today’s snarling version of the GOP. Yet the Democrats beat Republicans in most Congressional races. Imagine what Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson would have done with today’s crop of Republican corporatists and rabid ideologues.

Today’s Democrats with very few exceptions are dull, tired and defeatist. They regularly judge themselves by how bad the Republican Party is, instead of how affirmatively good they could be for our country and its politically alienated people. They cannot even muster themselves to battle for a higher minimum wage on behalf of 30 million American workers, just to the level of 1968, inflation adjusted, which is supported by over 70 percent of the people.

Neither Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, nor House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi are really taking this minimum wage fairness issue to the people and directly confronting the Republican Party. Yet they both profess to believe in “catching up with 1968.” They just don’t believe in themselves enough to generate the focused energy to make it happen.

(For those readers interested in letting their members of Congress have an earful, the switchboard is 202-224-3121.)

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail