FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Midterm Congressional Elections: You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had

Photograph Source Senate Democrats | CC BY 2.0

The buzz is that “we” have to “take back” the House and Senate in the November midterm elections. Legendary bluesman Muddy Waters said it best: “you can’t lose what you ain’t never had.” What the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is really telling us to do is to give them Congress, which is a whole other story.

“We” Never Had Congress

Trump has an abysmal 38% approval rating. The Democratic Party in the same independent national poll is even deeper in the abyss with only a 31% approval rating…for at least a dozen reasons:

(1) The Democratic Party is consistently far to the right of its constituents. While nearly 75% of Democrats support single-payer health care, President Obama and the Democrat Congressional members didn’t even allow single-payer to get before Congress. Single-payer was rendered “off the table.”

(2) The upwelling of resistance to Trump among the American electorate is genuine and deserved. But the official Resistance, mediated by its Democratic Party handlers, is focused on Trump the man and not his politics. Democrats in Congress voted nearly two to one in favor of Trump’s unconscionable $716 billion war budget. “The Resistance,” in the words of Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report,“is really the Assistance.”

(3) Despite all the divisive pyrotechnics on the surface, the two corporate parties tacitly collaborate with each other. When the smoke clears, the class unity of the duopoly on bedrock issues is revealed. Both parties support US militarism and empire abroad, while both look for opportunities to betray the electorate on social “entitlements” such as social security. Both are bullish about the ever-encroaching surveillance state, which is eroding civil liberties.

+ Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan prefigured Trump’s Betsy DeVos on charter schools and the privatization of public education.

+ If Trump ever gets to build his border wallbetween the US and Mexico, he will discover Bush and Obama had already completed 702 miles of it.

+ When peace candidate Barack became war President Obama, he continued Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, retained his predecessor’s secretary of defense, and even engaged in a “surge” of his own. Trump in turn continued Obama’s warsand added his own embellishments.

+ Trump did not pioneer an immigration policy that separated children from their parents. Rather he expanded Obama’s previous practice. Ever the over-achiever Obama earned the epithet deporter-in-chieffor a practice inherited from his predecessors.

+ Republicans deny global warming. Democrats are believers but don’t combat it. Far from “keeping it in the ground,” US petroleum production nearly doubled under Obama’s energy policies, “the largest domestic oil production increaseduring any presidency in US history.”

+ Trump’s trillion-dollar-plus plan to “modernize” US nuclear weaponsby making them smaller, more precise, and thus more “usable” was initiated by Obama.

Continuity is the overarching paradigm characterizing the relationship between the Democrats and the Republicans.

(4) The Democrats in a perverse way paved the way for Trump, as Thomas Frank argued in What’s the Matter with Kansas. The Democrats’ failure to address working class issues fueled rightwing populism:

“The Democratic Leadership Council…has long been pushing the party to forget blue-collar voters and concentrate instead on recruiting affluent, white-collar professionals who are liberal on social issues. The larger interests that the DLC wants desperately to court are corporations, capable of generating campaign contributions far outweighing anything raised by organized labor.”

The DLC is no longer active, having captured the whole Democratic Party. The Democrats continue to marginalize progressive politics, promoting the neoliberal transformation of society.

(5) Now lost in the fog of Russiagate is the Wikileaks revelations that the DNC/Clintonites tried to promote Trump in the Republican primaries while rigging the Democrat primaries against the more popular of the Democrat contenders. At the end of the day, the Democratic Party is more loyal to its big money funders than its rank-and-file voters. They would rather lose a presidential election than allow someone like Bernie Sanders to run, who raised inconvenient truths about income inequality.

(6) The Democratic Party does not represent “us.” Thomas Frank, in his follow-up book Listen Liberal, points out that the Republicans are not to blame for the “Democratic Party’s failure over the last few decades to do anything really meaningful about income inequality.” Rather, he argues “the Democrats are a class party in the most basic sense of the phrase, and that the socioeconomic group whose interests they represent most enthusiastically–the satisfied and prosperous professional class–simply doesn’t care all that much about income inequality.”

That verdict is by someone trying to promote the Democrats. The Democratic Party is a class party beholden to and reflecting the interests of the finance capitalists who fund it.

(7) The Democratic Party is no more reformable than the Republican Party. Both feed from the same big money trough and both are instruments of class rule for the rich and powerful, competing for the patronage of the elites. Neither of the corporate parties are structurally capable of transforming into a traitor to its own class.

(8) Attempts to reform the Democratic Party inevitably result in either defeat or cooptation of the would-be reformists, who become apologists for the party and attack those who dare to stand for genuine change.

(9) The Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements, not its champion. The major advances of US social movements – abolition of slavery, 8-hour workday, women’s suffrage – all came from third party initiatives and not the reigning duopoly of the time.

Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote. So the Democrats could just as well have passed single-payer healthcare had they wanted. One of the national leaders of the single-payer movement, then Congressperson Dennis Kucinich had pledged to vote against Obamacare. But Kucinich was pressured by Obama to vote yea, even though he still objected to the bill. Kucinich’s yea vote wasn’t needed, because Blue Dog Democrats were given a pass to vote nay. But getting Kucinich’s vote legitimized Obamacare and set back the single-payer movement. (BTW, Kucinich was rewarded by having his congressional district gerrymandered away from him, which he blames on the Democrats.)

Can the single-payer healthcare movement resurrect if it hitches its star to electing Democrats in the Congressional midterm elections? A cautionary answer can be seen in the Democratic one-party State of California, where single-payer is suffering a death by a thousand cuts.

(10) Voting for the Democrats has not pushed them to the left but has rewarded them for bad behavior, pushing them to the right. The unconditional support of what the Democratic Party considers its “captured constituencies,” such as blacks and labor, has allowed them to ignore their core voters and further court more conservative elements and big business.

(11) The national leadership of the Democratic Party listens to money and is seemingly deaf to the everyday concerns of ordinary voters. The lesson from Trump and his phony populism, a billionaire pretending to support working folks, should surely be to offer the voters genuine populism in the midterm elections. Instead, the Democrats obsessively flog the dead horse of Russiagate. Meanwhile polls show that the voters are interested in economic class issuesnot Putin.

(12) Instead of providing a left alternative to the reactionary Trump administration, something not hard to do, the Democratic Party has staked out a position to the right on critical issues.

The highest ranking elected Democrat, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, declared Trump’s tariff war with China“on the right path,” called Trump’s relocation of the US embassy in Israelto Jerusalem “long overdue,” and criticized those who protest directly against Trump officials as ”not American.”

The bromance of the top Democrat for the top Republican breaks up when the erratic Trump stumbles to the left. Schumer and other Democrat leaders are positively apoplectic about peace breaking out in the Korean Peninsula. The Democrats’ obsession over Russiagate relating to the 2016 US elections has dangerously morphed into a program of indefiniteCold War against Russia, which Russian expert Stephen Cohen warns leads to the “supremely existential and real danger of nuclear war” where nobody can win and everyone loses.

Revisionist Allegory of Tonto and the Lone Ranger

 Tonto and the Lone Ranger are riding along, when suddenly the Lone Ranger exclaims in panic, “We’re surrounded by Indians!” Tonto calmly replies, “What do you mean by we?” and rides off to join his comrades.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this allegory. The interests of the Democratic Party are not those of the vast majority of its constituency. It’s time to seek an alternative.

 

More articles by:

Roger Harris is on the board of the Task Force on the Americas, a 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail