The democratic party’s progressive problem
Last weekend, the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission held a meeting in Las Vegas. In the lead-up to that meeting, DNC Chair Tom Perez made headlines with the purge of a number of longstanding, progressive members from positions of leadership within the organization. He also named a number of new appointments, including several high-powered lobbyists as superdelegates and disgraced former-chair Donna Brazile — who was caught slipping debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign during last year’s primary race — to the rules committee.
Apparently, blatantly cheating and disregarding rules gets you a place on the committee charged with writing and enforcing them. Even CNN gave Brazile the boot after last year’s fiasco, but the DNC has chosen to reward her instead. You can’t make this crap up.
On Tuesday morning, I saw a piece in the Observer that got the lightbulbs clicking in my head. The article went into detail about the DNC’s fundraising problems. These woes and an abysmal record since 2010 at actually winning elections are no secret. As the Observer reports:
Politico reported on October 22, “Many donors are refusing to write checks. And on-the-ground operatives worry they won’t have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year’s midterms and in the run-up to 2020.” The DNC’s financial situation is, indeed, dire. It reportedly only has $7 million in cash in hand and nearly half of that in debt. In contrast, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has $44 million in cash on hand. In the latest quarter, the DNC only raised $4 million, while the RNC raised $10 million. This trend of being vastly outpaced by Republicans has been pervasive since Perez assumed his position in February 2017. So far this year the DNC has raised $51 million, less than half of the RNC’s $104 million.
Playing to the donor class
To me, this crisis in contributions explains — in part — the reasons behind the progressive purge. By eliminating voices speaking out against the very monied interests the DNC now counts on for cash, Tom Perez and others are hoping to placate those donors and convince them to loosen the purse strings once again and make it rain.
The DNC refuses to give up the mindset that you need big money to play the game, even after witnessing a grassroots campaign raise unprecedented cash on an average contribution of $27 just one year ago. The problem is that in order for such an effort to succeed, you need a huge buy-in from your base on the policies you’re promoting — and their trust.
People at the grassroots level don’t trust the DNC, and the Democrats don’t have many actual policies of substance for people to buy into. “We’re better than Trump” isn’t exactly a solid platform on which to build a campaign for convincing people to give you money. In fact, it’s about as low a bar as anyone can set.
The progressive facade has crumbled.
For years, Democrats have thrown bones to their progressive wing in hopes of keeping them placated, but that facade has been showing signs of wear for quite some time. Bernie Sanders’ primary challenge — and the DNC’s response to it — made those fissures too large to paint over or ignore.
Signing on to a universal healthcare bill you know has no chance of passing doesn’t show progressives that you get them. It shows progressives that you’re trying to con them into supporting your White House bid in 2020. And they’re not buying it.
The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and had a supposedly progressive leader in the White House in 2009 when they gave us RomneyCare 2.0 — a healthcare plan dreamed up by the ultra conservative Heritage Foundation. Republicans don’t like it because it was enacted by Democrats, but it’s basically the same thing they would have done.
But that’s the best we could do, the establishment will counter. See how badly the Republicans went after that. Their backlash is what led to all those Republican victories, culminating in Trump. It was a price we were willing to pay because we care about the little people like you. And this is how you repay our benevolence?
While I’ll agree that the ACA is better than nothing, it’s not nearly as good as what the Democrats could have done. Like I said, the ACA is basically RomneyCare 2.0. It’s a conservative plan that enriches the insurance companies and Big Pharma. The Republicans opposed it because the Democrats enacted it.
If the Republicans were going to oppose a conservative plan anyway, then why not go bold and enact a plan worthy of the party of Franklin Roosevelt? Why? Because that would have hurt the people paying the bills. Pure and simple.
It’s the same reason no one was held responsible for the banking crisis that tanked our economy in 2008. “Too large to fail” institutions were instead bailed out, and Citigroup got to handpick the people they wanted in President Obama’s cabinet.
Republicans keep winning elections because they’re bold.
They have ideals, and they stick to them. Granted, many of those ideals are pure evil, but they are ideals just the same. The Democrats try to have it both ways. They want to present a facade of being progressive, but not too progressive, so they don’t risk alienating the monied interests cutting the checks.
Democratic leadership views the progressive wing as an idealistic child who needs to be reminded that we have to take things incrementally because — actually I’m not sure exactly why. Their excuses never seem to make a lot of sense to me. Something about ponies and magical abs.
They chastise and shame progressives. They get angry that 10% of Bernie Sanders’ primary voters cast ballots for Donald Trump in the general election, completely ignoring the 24% of Hillary Clinton primary voters in 2008 who voted for John McCain in the general. I guess having Sarah Palin within a heartbeat of the Presidency wasn’t all that troubling to them.
They say Bernie should have conceded sooner or worked harder to bring his supporters over after the convention. The fact is, Bernie campaigned tirelessly for Clinton, so much so that some of his supporters wondered what kind of threats had been made against him to cause him to campaign so feverishly. And I don’t remember Bernie saying that he was staying in the race in case Hillary was assassinated like Bobby Kennedy in 1968. That would have been Hillary saying that in 2008 about Barack Obama.
Russian puppies and the politics of shame
Ok, so you’re basically saying you’re okay that Donald Trump is in the White House, huh? (No, I’m not.) That’s just your white male privilege talking. The Russians got to you with their evil Pokemon Go ads and Facebook pages for puppies. Don’t feel too bad, though. Black activists were duped by the Russians into protesting racial injustice, too. (Again, you can’t make this shit up.)
Think that last paragraph was over the top? Then you haven’t been paying attention. That’s all the Democrats have to offer now. Shaming and promoting the new red scare. The Republicans used to be the party of fear. Now, the Democrats have taken up that mantle and run with it.
Any thought you have that contradicts the mainstream Democratic narrative or causes too much thinking was planted there by a Russian bot or was encoded into your DNA and must be shamed out of you. If you float, you’re a witch and must be burned. If you drown, oh well. Our bad.
I exaggerate, but only slightly.
The hypocrisy of the Democratic Russia witch hunt is staggering. It took on a new wrinkle in the last day with the admission that the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign helped fund the compilation of the Steele dossier. To hear the establishment Democrats explain it, all they were doing was “opposition research.” It’s what everyone does.
That may well be true, but if so, then why did those same pundits make such a big stink last summer when it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer who promised them dirt on Hillary Clinton? Wasn’t that also “opposition research”? Both involved foreign nationals (the Russian lawyer for Don Jr. and Christopher Steele — and presumably contacts in Russia — for Hillary and the Democrats).
Both had the same goal, and both sound sketchy as hell to me.
A quick aside to the DNC: If you’re worried about cashflow shortages, you might want to stop funding this sort of shady activity. Just a thought.
We’re all losers in this.
While the Democratic party struggles to maintain its status quo, more and more progressives become disillusioned and walk away. These progressives aren’t going to the Republicans. They’re joining more progressive parties or just giving up altogether.
In the long run, one or more of these progressive parties could make a run at the two party system, but in the meantime Republicans are taking full advantage of the situation and shoring up their control.
The longer and louder mainstream Democrats scream about falling skies, Russian bots, and any number of privileges at play in anyone who disagrees with them, the more fractured and isolated their party becomes.
Want to start winning elections and take on Trump? Start listening to voices outside the echo chamber and offering real solutions that aren’t just Republican lite policies sprinkled with a healthy dose of identity politics on the side.