Thursday, April 26, 2012

How The Dems Got That Right 
   I left you last week with the question of how the Democratic Party has moved right, yes right, of France’s Front National fascist party on most major issues?
The answer is part of the bigger question about how our country has been steering to starboard for the last 40 years--no matter whether the Reps or Dems are in power. That continuing wave has left us with ridiculously richer rich people, a disappearing middle class, permanent war, immunity for the powerful and a police state for the rest, and the ruination of what’s public and the exaltation of what’s private. In short, we’re turning into one of those banana republics where the bunch who own everything could all attend the same lawn party with plenty of room to spare for the pheasants and flamingos.   
   This ongoing conservative tide has five sources.  The first and most powerful is the global money crowd avid to free itself of taxes and regulations so they can more easily plunder their own system as well as everyone else’s. In a word, they covet the world.
    The second is their chosen instrument, the Republican party, which grows more extreme as its dominance expands. But the Reps are by no means a perfect tool for financiers since many conservatives in the GOP would dilute our extant plutocracy by adding a rival theocratic power center.
     The third is our commercial culture which celebrates selfishness, acquisition and a suck-up and kick-down ethos. 
    Fourth are the media who lend endless credibility to the incredible nonsense emanating from the right by rarely questioning it. They leave that job to the late night comics, who have far more cred among the public than do the corporate cocottes of CNN, NPR and their like.
     Fifth among the fountainheads of reaction in America is the Democratic Party. Contrary to myth, the Dems have never been a purposely progressive party such as Canada’s New Democrats or  Labor in the UK.  Once an uneasy coalition of southern racists and big city political machines, the Dems go with the flow.  From the 30’s into the 60’s when the freshets issued from the left, they championed lots of good stuff like Social Security, unemployment insurance, the GI Bill, Medicare, civil and labor rights, and on and on. The highpoint of Dem liberalism came in 1972 with the McGovern campaign. That crushing defeat for progressive Dems gave pro-business Dems the opportunity to turn the party rightwards.  It’s been heading in that direction ever since. 
     Sadly, progressives have yet to mount a serious effort either to regain influence within the party or to create a new liberalism outside the party. With some honorable exceptions they gradually shed their liberalism and decided that if the Reps were the party of Business, they would be the party of As Usual. From that point on, if you asked Dems what they believed besides winning elections you would get a blank stare or a change of subject.
     Dem leaders were able to hold on to what was left of their ‘progressive’ base by projecting the party as a lesser evil rather than a real opponent of the right. Voters were told they should vote Dem not because the Dems were going to do good things but because otherwise the Reps would do bad things.
     The trick was to make sure that the progressives had no where else to turn. The Dem honchos declared war on left tendencies within and without the party. Typically, they heaped scorn on ‘extremist’ Dems like Dennis Kucinich and demonized outside lefties like Ralph Nader, spending millions on countless law suits to keep progressive third parties like the Greens off the ballot.
    The trick has worked perfectly for decades.  Progressive Dems will tell you, as if playing a tape, that they can’t nominate a progressive for president because that would lose centrist votes. And disgruntled Dems argue that they can’t vote for a third party because that would also throw the election to the Reps. All they can do is to accept an Obama, who populates his cabinet with Wall Streeters and frankly flaunts his buddy-buddying with banksters and his admiration for the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
    And when the next even more right wing Dem candidate comes along, they will say exactly the same thing about her. Thus the notion of having a center-left, let alone a left, party here remains as unlikely as Americans ever getting the month-long paid vacations enjoyed by the Swedes and such.  No, we are heading the other way, into a corporatocracy that doesn’t even offer the sop of  social benefits such as those favored by European fascists.
  A glimmer of hope:  this morning's news reports that two Dem insurgents beat two two sitting business-as-usual Congressmen in the Pennsylvania primaries. "Last night the Democratic Party became more liberal," said Hugh Reily, Dem chairman for Schuykill County.  Let's hope the glimmer brightens.