Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Don’t Apologize for Democrats

For the new year, let’s resolve: Don’t defend Democrats when they don’t deserve defending. And that certainly includes President Obama.

Let’s further resolve: Put principles above party and never lose our voice on human rights and social justice.

When we mute ourselves as a Democratic president pursues corporatist or militarist policies, we only encourage such policies.

If it was wrong for Bush to bail out Wall Street with virtually no controls, then it’s wrong for Obama.  If indefinite “preventative detention” was wrong under Bush, then it’s wrong under Obam.  If military occupation and deepening troop deployments were wrong under Bush, then they’re wrong under Obama.

Imagine if McCain had defeated Obama in 2008 and soon tripled the number of U.S.  troops in Afghanistan.  I have little doubt that activists would have
mobilized major opposition, denouncing the reality of more U.S. soldiers in
Afghanistan and Iraq combined than even Bush had deployed.

But as Obama goes about tripling the troops in Afghanistan, with more U.S.
soldiers in war zones that Bush ever had – and proposes the biggest military
budget in world history – many activists have lost their voices.

When Obama’s West Point speech on Afghanistan paid lip service to benchmarks and a timeline (as even Bush learned to do on Iraq), how did the once independent MoveOn react?  Its leaders sent out a muted petition urging – benchmarks and a timeline.  The email might as well have been written by Rahm Emanuel in the West Wing.

Taking cues from the Obama White House, liberal groups went quiet on Wall Street bailouts and bonuses – thus helping rightwing teabaggers and corporate-fronts to pose as populist saviors of the middle class.

By going soft on the White House or Democratic Congressional leaders, most netroots groups have undermined genuine progressives in Congress – on issues from Iraq and Afghanistan to Wall Street and healthcare.

Instead of launching their healthcare reform efforts behind an easily-explained, cost-effective “Enhanced Medicare for All” bill co-sponsored by dozens of progressive Congress members, netroots leaders meekly made a “public option” their starting demand and pretended not to notice when Rahm Emanuel began signaling last spring that the White House had no intention of pushing for it.

Predictably, we’ve ended up with corporate-enrichment legislation that forcibly delivers tens of millions of customers to big insurers and big pharma – with almost no cost controls because of private deals cut in the White House.  In the New York Times before Christmas, beneath an accurate header “Corporate Glee,” a news article asserted:  “The insurance companies were probably among the merriest of industries last week . . . But the drug companies were certainly joyful, too.”  Insurance stocks are soaring on Wall Street.

It’s tragically ironic that netroots forces joined Democratic leaders in killing Medicare for All as an unrealistic starting demand and now are belatedly urging “kill the bill.”

I’m old enough to remember that when Democrats are in majority power – controlling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue – they are capable of horrific policies.  With Lyndon Johnson in the White House, most Democrats in
Congress went along with Vietnam escalation.  And with President Clinton,
some leading Congressional Democrats joined mostly Republicans in backing the anti-worker, anti-environmental NAFTA.

The good news – during the eras of Vietnam and NAFTA – is that large numbers of progressive activists stood fast to their principles and vocally opposed those wrong-headed Democratic policies.  They didn’t follow Democratic leaders over the cliff or pretend that Democratic presidents are automatically “on our side” or well-intentioned.

And back then we lacked the most awesome tool ever invented for independent grassroots mobilization: the Internet.

The Net has helped unleash a golden age for independent media – and for journalists unafraid to challenge leaders of both parties: folks like Glenn
Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Arianna Huffington, Matt Taibbi and Amy Goodman, to name a few.

Thanks to the Internet and independent media, progressive activists are more fully and more quickly informed about national and global issues than ever. Yet many activists are poorly represented by national netroots groups that often function as appendages of the Democratic leadership.

While independent progressive media are booming on the Internet, the largest netroots political-action groups are sorely lacking in independence.

Be it resolved: In 2010, we will not apologize for indefensible Democratic policies, and we will no longer support netroots groups that fail to resist such policies.

JEFF COHEN is an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He can be reached through his website.

 

 

More articles by:

Jeff Cohen was director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and cofounder of the online activism group RootsAction.org.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail