If we ever want to make progress, we must primary Corporate Democrats
It is an objective fact that the Democratic Party has been run by the centrist, corporate, Clinton wing for the past 25 years, and look where that’s got us: Republicans control the House and the Senate, 69 out of 99 state legislatures, and Donald Trump is the President. Establishment Democrats will tell you and me that we have to unite to fight Trump, but at the same time, they won’t support progressive policies like single-payer healthcare or serious campaign finance reform. They want us to support them, but at the same time, they won’t support us. So no, the answer is not to unite with corporate Democrats, and no, the answer is not to hand the seats to the Republicans, as they are objectively worse than the corporate Democrats, so what is the answer? The answer is to run against those corporate Democrats in the primaries and replace them with real progressives. These corporate Democrats are just as much responsible for the destruction of our democracy as the GOP is.
First, Democrats in the past 25 years have drifted way too far to the right. The Democrats are no longer a left wing party that fights for universal healthcare, education for all, a living wage, and an end to all wars, they have become a corporatist, center right party. When Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are seen as far leftists, your party has a problem. When John McCain, of all people, is more progressive on regulations and prescription drugs than prominent Democrat Cory Booker, your party has a problem. There’s also these three very right wing Democratic Senators. The worst is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who voted to defund Planned Parenthood, voted to confirm Steve Mnuchin and Scott Pruitt, and opposes all environmental regulations. There’s Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who asked the Federal Government to rough up DAPL protesters. Lastly, there’s Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who worries about the debt when it comes to healthcare, but thinks it’s ok to launch 59 Tomahawk Missiles at Syria and blow 29 million dollars. These three Democrats in name only are considered real Democrats, while real progressives like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are pushed aside.
Another piece of evidence for this is ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. For a so-called progressive Democrat, President Barack Obama, to push such a right-wing bill, is insane to me, this healthcare bill is similar to RomneyCare, which Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts. The ACA would have been more progressive if not for a handful of Democrats, case in point, when Obama tried to push for the public option in the ACA, Democratic Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (now an Independent), Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas joined the Republican filibuster of the ACA until Montana Senator Max Baucus’s more right-wing bill was agreed on; and don’t forget Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, who threatened to fight the ACA if Baucus didn’t get his way. Lastly, do you remember who Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick was? Right, Merrick Garland, a center-right judge who supports money in politics, and many forget that he first considered Brian Sandoval for the Supreme Court, the Republican Governor of Nevada.
Some Democrats will say that Democrats will need to move to the right to compromise with the GOP, and here’s why that’s incorrect, if Democrats fight for a left wing position, the compromise is a center-left policy, if they fight for a centrist or center right position, the compromise will always be right wing. Democrats need to be principled and fight for progressive values.
Secondly, Democrats have totally sold out to corporations and billionaires. Of course the Republicans were the first party to sell out to the special interests, but that does not mean the Democrats did not sell out too. Two examples, both Senator Mark Warner and Senator Heidi Heitkamp take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry, and vote against climate change legislation. Also, both Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto have taken a lot of money from the health insurance industry, and don’t support a medicare for all, single payer system.
Another example of this corruption is the revolving door, which retiring Members of Congress in both parties participate in. This is when a retiring member of Congress, after doing the bidding of a corporation for years, goes and gets a high paying job lobbying for that corporation. Republicans do it all the time, but Democrats also do it, all the time. For instance, corporate robots like Max Baucus, or as I call him, the Senator from Aetna, went to lobby for health insurance companies after he retired. There’s also Blanche Lincoln, or as I call her, the Senator from Walmart, who now runs a lobbying firm where she helps the retail industry. Both Lincoln and Baucus are now swimming in cash.
Democrats are not the only ones guilty of this, of course, one instance is Corporate Republican Mike Johanns from Nebraska who went on to lobby for big agriculture when he left the Senate, after doing their bidding for years. The Democrats must be the resistance to this corruption by not being corrupt, not just being a little better than the Republicans.
The next thing we should take a look at is the Sanders-Klobuchar Amendment, this Amendment was proposed by two very progressive Senators, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, to allow people to buy prescription drugs across the border from Canada. Several Republicans, enough to pass the amendment, voted for the amendment, including John Thune, John Kennedy, Dean Heller, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz, all very corrupt Republican Senators. Now, if all those Republicans voted for the Amendment, it should have passed, right? Well, it didn’t, and here’s why. Thirteen Democrats voted no, and the amendment failed. Those Senators were Cory Booker, Bob Menendez, Michael Bennet, Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Tom Carper, Chris Coons, Bob Casey, Joe Donnelly, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, Martin Heinrich, and Mark Warner. Is it any surprise that all of those Senators take loads of cash from Big Pharma?
The next thing I’d like to take a look at is Barack Obama’s Cabinet. First on the chopping block is Penny Pritzker, Obama’s second Commerce Secretary, a billionaire businesswoman who’s a heir to the Hyatt Fortune. Then there’s Tom Perez, his second Labor Secretary, who refused to go after big banks on Wall Street when he was in office. There’s also Tom Vilsack, his only Agriculture Secretary, who funneled taxpayer money to beef industry lobbyists. Last is Tim Geithner, his first Treasury Secretary, who worked under the Clinton Administration to deregulate Wall Street. ALL of these Cabinet picks were pre-approved by Citigroup, a Wall Street Bank. Some will claim that Democrats need big money to win elections, and here’s why that’s wrong, if Democrats raise money from only small, individual donations from regular people, then capitalize on that and paint the Republican Party as the establishment party, they will win, but Democrats have become the “not-quite-as-corporatist-as-the-Republicans” party, and that sets them up for perpetual failure.
Next, Democrats are ineffective fighters. Let’s start with Neil Gorsuch, the new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch is a far right wing extremist who opposes civil rights, immigrant rights, and environmental protection and believes that corporations are human beings with constitutional rights. On the day that Neil Gorsuch’s committee hearing began, Senator Dianne Feinstein was asked what the main line of attack would be, and her answer was “Will Gorsuch be independent enough from President Trump?” (paraphrased), Out of all the things Senator Feinstein could have mentioned, his corporatism, opposition to workers rights, denying of climate science, and opposition to civil rights, she chose that issue, a softball issue, and it’s not like the other Democrats were tough on him either. In fact, the only two Senators who went hard on Gorsuch in the Committee Hearings were Al Franken, who’s a real progressive, and Sheldon Whitehouse, who’s progressive, but has some personal corruption issues. The fact that Democrats could be so weak on an extremist like Gorsuch is baffling to me.
Let’s also look at 2009–2011, in those years, we had a Democratic President and a Democratic Supermajority in both houses of Congress, which should mean a blizzard of progressive policies, right? Well, let’s take a look at what they did. Do we have a national voting holiday? No. Do we have single payer healthcare? No. Do we have free college for all? No. Have we pulled out of Afghanistan? No. Did we prosecute the criminal bankers on Wall Street after the Great Recession? No. And lastly, what grade does this country have in our infrastructure report? D+. None of this is acceptable to me. So, if we had Democrats in control of everything, why didn’t we achieve any real progress? The answer is, Democrats suck at fighting the Republicans, they caved in even when they had a supermajority, and that’s outrageous. Here’s one more outrageous fact for you, as soon as the Republicans had total control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to completely get rid of the filibuster, as soon as that happened, Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, came on television and promised to reinstate the filibuster when the Democrats gain control of the Senate in 2018. Democrats need to stop playing nice and be strong in their convictions or they’re useless.
Next, Democrats are terrible at winning elections, just look at how they botched 2016 and 2014. In 2016, establishment Democrats chose Hillary Clinton, the less popular, less electable, establishment candidate, instead of Bernie Sanders, a popular, populist, electable candidate. This mistake was just the tip of the iceberg. Hillary Clinton chose Senator Tim Kaine, a boring centrist, as her running mate, she ran to the right during the general election, she courted Jeb Bush’s donors, she touted the endorsement of Henry Kissinger, a war criminal, and lastly, she took the Rust Belt for granted, If she had campaigned in the Rust Belt just a little more, she may very well have won.
But the presidential election wasn’t the only thing the Democrats lost in 2016, let’s go to Indiana for a second. In 2016, Republican Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) stepped down from the Senate, and who did the Democratic Party choose as their candidate? Former Senator Evan Bayh, a conservative Democrat, a “New Democrat”, a “Blue Dog”, and on November 8, Bayh was crushed by Todd Young, a Republican establishment hack. Or, we could go to Florida, the Florida primary was between Rep. Alan Grayson, a tough, real progressive, and Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Blue Dog who was so conservative, he voted for Romney in 2012. You’ll never guess who they went with, right, Murphy, and when Murphy went up against Senator Marco Rubio, an unpopular corporate hack who hates being in the Senate and despises his constituents (by the way Marco, the feeling is mutual), Murphy was crushed by Rubio. In comparison, Tammy Duckworth, a real progressive, ran a progressive campaign against Senator Mark Kirk, the incumbent Republican from Illinois and handed him his ass on a silver platter.
We could also take a look at 2014, let’s look at five Senate elections, three incumbent, very conservative Democrats went home that day, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, because they campaigned as Republican lite, and totally sold out to corporations, and were crushed by Republican idiots like Tom Cotton, Dan Sullivan, and Bill Cassidy.
There’s also West Virginia. The Democratic party went with coal stooge Natalie Tennant as their candidate, and she got buried by Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican coal stooge. The most infuriating and hilarious story was in Kentucky. Alison Lundergan Grimes was the candidate against Mitch McConnell, THE MOST HATED SENATOR IN THE COUNTRY. This should have been an easy pickup for the Democrats, except for the fact that Grimes ran a Republican lite campaign, talking about cutting corporate taxes and fighting environmental regulations, and of course, Grimes was crushed by McConnell, because if people have a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they’re going to choose the Republican.
One last statistic, Republicans now hold 69 out of 99 state legislatures, they are one legislature away from being able to amend the constitution, that’s just crazy. Some Democrats will say that Democrats need to run to the right to win in red states. Well, let’s look at James Thompson, a real progressive who ran for Congress in Kansas’s 4th District, in the most red district in the country. Now, he did lose, but he lost with 47% of the vote, in a district that Trump won by 27%. Democrats do not need to run to the right, they need to run to the left.
Next, Democrats have the wrong priorities. In the era of Trump, establishment Democrats have refused to push progressive priorities. For instance, Rep. John Conyers, a progressive veteran of Congress, proposed a bill in the House, HR676, to pass a universal healthcare system, and 93 Democrats still have yet to sign on to it, instead devoting most of their resources to fear mongering about Russia. Many Democrats have also refused to speak out on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which disappointingly includes Senator Elizabeth Warren, a usual progressive hero. Many Democrats have also not condemned Donald Trump’s dangerous foreign policy, even Sanders and Warren haven’t said anything. This doesn’t compare to Claire McCaskill, who not only won’t condemn, but supported Trump’s airstrikes in Syria, which cost a whopping 29.5 million dollars, but when asked if she supports universal healthcare, told constituents that “we need to find a way to pay for that, we need to worry about the debt” (paraphrased). There was also the time when Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Ted Lieu proposed a bill to counter “fake news and alternative facts”, but the terms of this bill are broad and vague and don’t focus on policy. Democrats need to advocate for serious policy issues, if not, they become a party of silly people.
Finally, establishment Democrats just don’t get it. Democrats seem to have no idea why Hillary Clinton lost, blaming Vladimir Putin, James Comey, and Julian Assange for her loss, instead of taking a look at themselves as the reason they lost. Democrats try to be edgy, for instance, DNC Chair Tom Perez saying “Republicans don’t give a sh*t about people,” or Hillary Clinton telling millennials to “Pokemon Go to the polls,” Democrats need to focus on real policy instead of being “edgy” and “cool.” In February, Democrats elected a new DNC Chair, they had the option of choosing progressive Rep. Keith Ellison and taking the Democratic Party in a new direction, instead, they chose former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a corporatist who has continued the downward spiral of the Democratic Party, and not to mention, the DNC Members also decided not to ban Democrats from taking money from corporate lobbyists. The DNC has also staffed the “war room” against Trump with people like Donna Brazile, the corrupt DNC Chair who leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton when she worked at CNN, or people on Hillary’s campaign staff like Jennifer Palmieri or John Podesta, the last people who should be hired to defeat Trump, when they’ve already proven they can’t defeat Trump. Lastly, it’s bad enough that Manchin is in the Senate, but it’s even worse that he’s in leadership. Democrats need to seriously reform or there’s no hope for the party.
Well, we’ve gone over why Corporate Democrats are harmful to the party and the country, so why don’t we go over the solutions. The first solution is Our Revolution, an organization started by Bernie Sanders to support real progressives running in state, federal and local races all across the country. The next is Justice Democrats, whose sole purpose is to primary corporate Democrats with real progressives in the community. There’s also Brand New Congress, who fights Corporate Democrats and Corporate Republicans with people in the community, both Average Joe liberals and Average Joe conservatives. Another is the Sunrise Movement, who has promised to replace climate deniers in Congress with people who will push for 100% renewable energy. The last group is We Will Replace You, who has promised to primary Democrats who won’t fight Trump’s agenda.
In conclusion, Corporate Democrats are just as responsible for the downward spiral the United States has taken as the Republicans. We need to primary them if we want any real, progressive change in this country.