America’s strange “left” mirror of right wing marketing
Suppose you were a champion of social justice who thought that the US Democratic Party was too moderate, too market oriented, too compromised to measure up to your standards. You might decide to (1) join the non-violent or even the violent opposition outside the electoral system; (2) work for a third party or (3) become active in Democratic Party politics and push it towards your ideas. The most visible parts of the “left” however, the pundits and professors who get on TV or publish in Salon or The Nation or Jacobin or something similar, the Greens, and many “activists” have chosen a fourth path which is to virulently attack the Democratic Party as a corrupt and basically criminal organization — often mirroring Republican marketing in detail — and to demand either its dissolution or a purge of its leadership. To be sure, there is no evidence of any organizing outside of this mission of criticism and it’s criticism that is oddly familiar.
This Disgruntled Left continues, for example, to complain against all evidence that Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders of the nomination and that her corporate speeches must contain horrific evidence of corruption and demand that various prominent Democrats such as Senator Booker “need to be primaried” — topics that seem to interest them more than the adventures of the Trump/Ryan administration. I’ve often caught myself reading or listening to one of these attacks and trying to puzzle out whether it is coming from Left or Right because the two, supposedly diametrically opposed sides use similar themes and phrases. The argument that the truth must reside somewhere in the middle is a silly one, but the similarities in tone, topic, and rhetorical device between Left and Right critiques are so striking that it’s hard to not suspect that both critiques share similar purpose or underlying ideological structure. The truth about the Democratic Party is not in between these two.
One of the strangest features of the Disgruntled Left attack on the Democrats is the argument that the Democratic Party is supposed to be the anti-capitalist party — just as the wingnuts claim and have claimed since FDR was President — and that its failure to embrace anti-capitalism is a kind of betrayal. In reality,the Democratic Party is a moderate social democratic party that advocates a market economy with consumer protections against scams (for example the Obama administration’s regulation that “financial advisers” not take secret payments from companies they recommend to their clients), government support for greater opportunity (such as Hillary Clinton’s plan to make community college free), government investment in infrastructure and research and development (see Al Gore’s decades long work on government support for what became the Internet) and fair tax rates (consider Warren Buffet’s idea that his secretary should pay at a lower rate than he does). Even the “too radical to be a Democrat” wild “socialist” Bernie Sanders proposed ideas like making it hard for companies to hide profits in overseas tax havens and to only allow $3.5 million inheritances without any taxes. None of that is anti-capitalist at all. But it’s common for right wingers to insist that Democrats want communism (one recently told me I should let him take my house, since, as a “DemocRAT” I must support the end of private property!) and for the Disgruntled Left to insist that Democrats who are not sufficiently anti-capitalist have betrayed the core ideas of the party! What a strange confluence — the Right raving about how Barack Obama was a radical communist and the “Left” ranting about how he betrayed the anti-capitalist cause that Democrats should be embracing.