FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Liberal Doormats: Tread on Us

The self-styled “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”–the liberals who try to rally the Democratic base for every election–are always the good soldiers.

In a party increasingly consumed with offering a Republican-Lite agenda, they hold out hope that a Democratic Congress might investigate the Bush administration, enact national heath care or cut off funds for the occupation in Iraq. Even though party leaders disdain them, they toil on for the good of the party.

A case in point is the most recent attempt at an “inside-outside” strategy of changing the Democrats: the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). Founded in 2004 and now claiming more than 85,000 members in 135 chapters, they take responsibility for winning resolutions in support of Bush’s impeachment and for withdrawal from Iraq in state-level Democratic Parties.

In an October 17 message on the eve of congressional elections, PDA leader Tim Carpenter notes: “The strategic activism of Progressive Democrats of America gives me new hope that the Democratic Party and our country can be turned around.”

Yet the fact is that the majority of liberal candidates the PDA backed in Democratic primaries lost to more conservative Democrats–many of them backed by the party establishment. Many of the winners–especially those, like Illinois candidate Tammy Duckworth, who were recruited and promoted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its pro-war leader Rep. Rahm Emanuel–are pro-war themselves.

This has put the PDA in the same position as previous formations like it: working for the election of Democrats who not only don’t share their views on the war or health care, but are actually opposed to them. Yet in the interests of party unity and a broader outlook, the PDA has urged its members to work for these candidates.

One justification is that if the Democrats take the House, then safe-seat liberals will take over key congressional committees. “Imagine the investigative work that could be done on the Downing Street Memos and the Ohio voting irregularities and the steps that could and would be taken toward the censure of President Bush with these members managing the committees,” Carpenter wrote.

“For this reason, PDA is urging its members and all progressives to donate, organize and vote Democratic in November. It may involve some holding of noses in some districts, but the stakes are high and the road ahead is long. Progressives must support all the Democratic nominees–including [Jane] Harman, [Al] Wynn and Duckworth as well as centrist Democrats who faced no progressive primary challenge–so we can demand and expect the support of centrist Democrats when our candidates win future primaries.”

Fat chance of that. Just look at Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is favored to win re-election as an independent after he refused to accept his defeat in the Democratic primary to the moderate Iraq war critic Ned Lamont.

The problem doesn’t just come from selfish “centrists.” It’s in the setup of politics itself, where liberal support for Democrats is always a one-way street.

A good recent example might be the case of PDA-endorsed Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is looking increasingly likely to become a senator from Ohio, defeating incumbent Republican Mike DeWine.

On September 17, Carpenter presented Brown with a “Backbone Campaign” award as part of PDA-supported effort to reward Democrats who stand up against special interests, the Republicans and the White House. In Brown’s case, the PDA was commending him for leading opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

A few days later, Brown’s backbone crumbled. He was one of only 34 House Democrats to vote for Bush’s torture bill.

Of course, Brown was in a difficult position. What’s opposing torture and supporting the right of habeus corpus against the possibility of facing a Republican attack-ad melding his face with Osama bin Laden’s?

The PDA continues to back Brown, which goes to show once again that liberal groups working within the Democratic Party end up as the “gofers.” They work the hardest at inspiring people to vote for an uninspiring party, and receive little in return. Yet they redouble their efforts to elect the Democrats.

As the socialist Hal Draper wrote in 1967 about the “lib-labs” (liberal-labor) of his day: “The Democrats have learned well that they have the lib-lab vote in their back pocket, and that therefore the forces to be appeased are those forces on the right.”

Don’t the liberals ever get tired of being treated as doormats? How about calling another press conference and publicly rescinding the award to Brown? Now that would be a show of backbone.

LANCE SELFA writes for the Socialist Worker.

 

 

More articles by:
July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail