RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Thrasher writes: "Six months into Donald Trump's term, and Democratic politician's ability to be an opposition party is, in a word, pathetic."

'I'm quite frightened by the Democrats' inability to imagine a better world.' (photo: REX/Shutterstock)
'I'm quite frightened by the Democrats' inability to imagine a better world.' (photo: REX/Shutterstock)


The Democrats' Performance as an Opposition Party? Pathetic

By Steven W. Thrasher, Guardian UK

23 July 17

 

ix months into Donald Trump’s term, and Democratic politician’s ability to be an opposition party is, in a word, pathetic.

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Indeed, many of the most powerful Democratic politicians and donors seem to hate the sick and poor almost as much as Trump does. How else to explain why Chuck Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Representative Carolyn Maloney would party in the Hamptons with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway and David Koch while the latter group was attempting to strip healthcare from tens of millions of people?

How else to explain that though a majority of Americans want a single payer healthcare system, an effort to achieve it in California has been killed ... even though Democrats hold super majorities in their legislature and the governorship?

The Democrat’s death drive didn’t debut with Donald Trump, of course. The DNC’s inability to be an effective opposition party has been almost a decade in the making, exacerbated by their loss of over 900 legislative seats since Obama took office in 2009; Obama’s failure to prosecute Wall Street bankers after they stole nearly half the black wealth in the country; the party’s failure to develop an economic vision that was little more than Republican Lite (or, as Obama put it, 1980s moderate Republicanism); and, unfairly helping Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries, even though Bernie Sanders consistently polled better than Clinton and the political winds (fanned by Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter) have clearly moved on from neoliberal Clintonomics.

Now, consider all the ways Democrats told us that we had to support Clinton because Trump was Lucifer/Hitler Incarnate and then – when she lost – have supported Lucifer/Hitler. When the New York Times analysed how senators voted on 22 Trump nominees, “no senators voted ‘no’ on every nominee” – not even among the Democrats. Clinton’s choice for vice-president, Tim Kaine, voted for more than half of Trump’s nominees.

And while Democrats made a lot of noise about Betsy DeVos’s confirmation, Trump’s eventual Education Secretary, they hardly had a moral, intellectual or ideological basis for doing so.

For the past decade, leading Democrats like Obama, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Senator Cory Booker have trumpeted charter schools (and their disdain for unions, regulation and government enforcement of civil rights protections). They paved the way for the Devos-Trump education nightmare.

Then, three Democratic Senators even voted to send Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in Trump’s first months (where he voted to kill a black man his first week on the job and has supported Trump’s Islamophobic travel ban), despite how Republican senators had just denied Obama’s nominee a hearing for a year.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York voted against 20 of 22 Trump nominees. But in “progressive” New York State, Gillibrand is joining her fellow senator Chuck Schumer (and 12 other Democratic senators around the country) to support a bipartisan bill that will make the civilized act of protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine a felony.

If it passes and Trump signs it, supporting the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (or BDS, a movement quite similar to the boycotting of South African apartheid in the 1980s) could result in a million dollar fine and 20 years in prison. New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed draconian state level measures regarding protesting Israel last year.

And this brings us to the most dangerous thing Democrats are doing: while some, like Congress members Ted Lieu and Maxine Waters, are at least good at yelling on Twitter about how authoritarian Trump is, too many Democratic lawmakers are actively legislating Trump’s authoritarian takeover.

They’re colluding with Trump to destroy thinking and political expression. If the BDS law passes, it’s would be a Trojan Horse to dismantle the first amendment broadly and to expand the notion of “terrorist” to include peaceful political protesters.

I was appalled (but not surprised) to see so many Democrats sign onto this bill, just as I was appalled to see that in New Jersey Assembly, a bill recently passed 76 to 0 that “mandates that school districts start teaching kids how to talk to law enforcement officers starting in kindergarten” and that children be taught “the role and responsibilities of a law enforcement official in providing for public safety; and an individual’s responsibilities to comply with a directive from a law enforcement official” – as if police violence is children’s fault. Every Democrat supported this outrage.

Both of these bills show us how quickly the Democrats, just like Republicans, are willing to see all of us as threats who need to be more quiet, less politically vocal and more violently policed.

And so, while I’m afraid of the Republicans running amok with access to nuclear weapons and the national budget, I’m also quite frightened by the Democrats’ inability to imagine a better world.

The Washington Post reported this week that 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents “say they are likely to vote next year, compared to 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.”

Though Trump is historically unpopular for a president at this moment in his presidency, Hillary Clinton is even more unpopular – and the Democrats, unwilling or unable to move away from the nihilism and bad economics which made her their nominee and which ultimately gave us President Trump – seem unable to make gains even now.


e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+82 # Wise woman 2017-07-23 12:41
Time for a third, fourth and maybe even a fifth party. Are you listening Bernie??? The dems are completely dysfunctional and the repubs bordering on facism. Both need to ground themselves in some kind if morality and democratic principles.
 
 
0 # ericlipps 2017-07-24 04:43
"A third, fourth and maybe even a fifth party"? Leaving aside the mischievous role of the Electoral College at the presidential level, a multi-party arrangement would make it possible, perhaps even easy, for someone to win with a minority of the vote in races for Congress and state offices. So much for democracy.
 
 
+92 # chapdrum 2017-07-23 12:51
We have one party, with two right wings.
 
 
+82 # ReconFire 2017-07-23 14:01
As Mr. Thrasher indirectly points out we have one party with two names.
I'm in the abandon the Dem. party camp. When you have the leader of the Dems. partying with the opposition and their funders, I don't see the possibility of reforming anytime in the near future, esp. by 2018.
What a disgrace that Dem. rep's. would support unconstitutiona l legislation. When this happens the whole system is in the sh!t can.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2017-07-23 17:58
Face it; this is a RIGHTIST nation.
The closest you're ever gonna get to a left wing version of aspirant government here is a sort of faux libertarian breakaway led by Gawd knows who, as permitted by those who REALY run the country -and that to simply give a totally false impression of democracy to the allied nations.
Bernie Sanders is a lonely democratic voice crying in the wilderness where there is a moaning and a gnashing of teeth
 
 
+8 # SusanT136 2017-07-24 17:02
Quoting reiverpacific:
Face it; this is a RIGHTIST nation.


Almost all the politicians are rightist, support the oligarchs types, but the public leans left on issues if you ask them in a non-prejudicial way (living wage, Medicare for All, corporations and uber wealthy paying their fair share of taxes etc). Problem is the politicians aren't listening. And unless the Dems get a clue, AND attack Crosscheck and other vote suppression measures HARD, they will continue to lose.
 
 
-14 # bardphile 2017-07-23 17:58
Very weak fig leaf for those in contested states who abandoned HRC when the chips were down. Resistance to the Republican majorities in Congress would have been ever so much easier with Hillary in the White House. For those who helped enable the farce if the Trump presidency--thi s embarrassing travesty is, in large measure, ON YOU.
 
 
+15 # librarian1984 2017-07-24 13:07
Obama pushing TPP all through the campaign.
Hillary choosing a VP to her right.
Not once visiting MI.
Her email server.
Hillary's 'deplorable' remark.
Bill meeting Loretta Lynch on the tarmac.
Hillary spending more on internet trolls than Latino outreach.
Her daily call for war with Russia.
Steinem saying female Sanders supporters were 'following the boys'.
Hillary cackling at Qaddafi's torture-murder.
Saying we should drone kill Assange.
Albright: women would go to hell if they didn't support Hillary.
Hillary's Wall Street speeches, insulting BLM.

Therefore it's OUR fault?

We didn't abandon Hillary when the chips were down. The DP, especially the neoliberals, abandoned US long ago. Quit blaming the voters for rotten candidates.

Since when do we OWE them our vote? Clinton might be the first presidential candidate not to bother campaigning. She never asked for MY vote. She, like Bill, arrogantly believed voters had 'nowhere else to go'

Your problem is not third party voters. WE at least cared enough to vote. 50% stayed home. 9% flipped to Trump. Millions were disenfranchised.

How about you blame the DP, DNC, DWS, Brazile or the superdelegates? The polling showed for over a year that Clinton had a good chance of losing, and more -- that she was so reviled she'd mobilize the GOP and hurt down ticket races -- and she did.

The fact we're still dwelling on this instead of gaining ground is, in large measure, ON YOU.
 
 
+12 # librarian1984 2017-07-24 13:26
I find it absolutely remarkable that after this horrific election your takeaway is that progressives are at fault for not being able to bring themselves to vote for a corporatist warmonger who never once asked for them.

If Clinton were in the WH she and the GOP would be having a grand old time waging war, dropping corporate taxes and throwing us incremental,imp rovements, so don't pretend the alternative was some progressive heaven. I don't know if your naivete regarding Clinton and the neoliberals is genuine or contrived -- and I don't much care -- but get used to it. Progressives are not going back in the box. We're no longer voting LOTE. We're not voting for war or fracking or bank deregulation anymore. YOU may be asleep but progressives are awake and organizing.

We want single payer healthcare, clean water, honest elections, economic justice and a green economy -- and we're not going to vote for anyone who isn't willing to fight for those things.

Would you be okay if the DP stole enough votes to win? How many more countries can we bomb before you become squeamish? How far down the road of corruption are you willing to follow so you can pretend you won something?

Scapegoats are satisfying in the short term but not conducive to building a mature, thoughtful startegy going forward. Grow up.

DraftBernie.org
 
 
0 # bardphile 2017-07-29 12:59
Okay, okay, I get it. I didn't vote for Clinton either, since CA was safely blue. I still think the difference between Clinton and Trump was huge enough to more than justify voting LOTE, as unsatisfying as it always is. I find Trump disgusting, but what's REALLY disgusting is the set of economic and political conditions that elevated this (fill in the blank with cretin, buffoon, whatever) first to riches, then to power. I couldn't see validating those conditions then, and I can't see it now.
 
 
+10 # jimallyn 2017-07-24 14:57
Quoting bardphile:
Very weak fig leaf for those in contested states who abandoned HRCmeasure

We didn't abandon HRC. She abandoned us. Decades ago.
 
 
+19 # PABLO DIABLO 2017-07-23 18:14
MONEY. The Democrats and the Republicans are both controlled by BIG money. Thanks Citizens United for the rapid decline of The American Empire.
 
 
+4 # Buddha 2017-07-25 15:57
It happened long before Citizens United, see the Powell Memo of the early 1970's. The Oligarchic slow coup, and the policies like destroying the Fairness Doctrine and allowing all mass media to be amassed into a few billionaire hands, has been going on for decades, and Citizens United was actually just a final coup de grace.
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2017-07-26 02:15
The Powell memo came from the right. Don't let's forget 'A Crisis of Democracy' from the left, which talked about indoctrinating children among other things.

PD, we WANT the decline of American empire. We are part of a community of nations. The time for empires is gone.
 
 
+2 # AlexG 2017-07-25 16:50
Pablo -

Un poco contradiction in how you phrased it.

Big Money controls both Dems & Repubs, yes..
and [therefore] Citizens United BOLSTERS [not declines] the "American Empire".....
Si..?
 
 
+19 # LindaChicago 2017-07-23 18:31
"But in “progressive” New York State, Gillibrand is joining her fellow senator Chuck Schumer (and 12 other Democratic senators around the country) to support a bipartisan bill that will make the civilized act of protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine a felony.

"If it passes and Trump signs it, supporting the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (or BDS, a movement quite similar to the boycotting of South African apartheid in the 1980s) could result in a million dollar fine and 20 years in prison. New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed draconian state level measures regarding protesting Israel last year."

We know that Bibi N and his fellow mass murderers, helped by AIPAC, are paying off everyone they can find in DC (and NY too) that will take their filthy money. The oppressed have become oppressors aided and abetted by the US.
 
 
+1 # Caliban 2017-07-24 13:37
I doubt that it is just the money.

Let us face the fact that a lot of American voters are also church-goers, and they have a powerful allegiance to Old Testament stories and their traditional moral and political lessons. They are not going to abandon a Hebrew state to support supposed infidels.
 
 
+14 # NAVYVET 2017-07-23 19:04
This article should be passed along to every Dem who wants no deviation from the losing policies of the DINOs.

I am also getting tired of the failure of a Socialist party to take on the challenges of the 21st century. Don't try to sell me the wishywashy New Agey Greens and their clueless naive followers, I know too much about that party's deep flaws! I belong to the Democratic Socialists of America but am a bit disgusted at the DSA reluctance to become more than a "talk but no walk" group. If only I weren't 81 and somewhat ill! Young folk--the ball is in your possession now. RUN WITH IT! Both of the current political parties and their $$$ supporters must be discarded if this nation is to survive.
 
 
-5 # mblockhart 2017-07-23 19:10
Just what the Russians and Republicans love to see. Pick some anecdotal cases to illustrate a myth to keep the left divided. That's what got us Trump, people.
 
 
+13 # FIRSTNORN1 2017-07-23 19:25
I wholeheartedly concur with Wise woman, chapdrum and ReconFire. Chuck Schumer is very close to the worst of the worst. He now comes out and says:
"Senate Democrats are open to Single Payer health insurance".

Give me a break!!! He's *no Bernie* and would never fight for this; he just says empty words and keeps on sucking in Wall Street money.
 
 
+8 # economagic 2017-07-23 19:51
Thanks for reminding me of all but ONE of the reasons I registered as "Unaffiliated" when I first became able to vote in 1968. Come to think of it, some of the reasons were different then, but not very much, and that ONE is still at the top of the list.
 
 
+7 # sbessho 2017-07-23 20:23
The behavior of the Democrats makes perfect sense in a world where big money contributors run the show. The Dems (and of course the GOP in spades) dare not take any position that endangers their funding sources. One solution is for voters to make supporting the We the People Amendment a litmus test for every seat in the 2018 elections. I think that stands a greater chance than hoping another party will suddenly materialize and develop a national organization in a year's time.
 
 
-6 # suzyskier 2017-07-23 21:17
I disagree with all these comments. Ridiculous. You haven't even given the Democrats 6 months since this Treasonous monster has been in the white house to gather their thoughts. Every day Trump does something more outrageous than the day before! It's terribly distracting while in the meantime the R's are trying to rip Health Care out of the hands of millions of citizens and give tax breaks to the ultra wealthy.
There are Democrats that are starting to stand out and up for their Principals and one is Adam Schiff another is young Kennedy, there are more. Basically you people sound like fair weather Democrats, only Democrats when things are going your way otherwise you turn on them. They are not alike except in your imaginations! So it's not okay for Democrats and Republicans to attend the same parties? Just because they are friends outside of congress doesn't mean they agree on issues inside congress. Can't they at least be civil! Doesn't mean they can't persuade a Republican to their side. What about ACA it's not going that well for the R's is it? Hopefully Trump will be gone soon as well. He's the 3rd Republican since 1980 that has disgraced this nation with a scandal.. You might try to remember that in your harsh criticism of the Democrats. What are you doing to help? Do you volunteer?
 
 
-5 # bardphile 2017-07-24 12:33
Yes. The more the Dems rely on rich benefactors, the more "progressives" will abandon the party. Unfortunately it works the other way, too: The more progressives turn their backs, the more dependent the Dems are on big money. I understand the frustration, but I agree with you. The solution is more commitment, not less. It isn't hopeless. If all the natural constituency for progressive / democratic policies got their butts registered and to the voting booth, the party would have all three branches by 2020. Keep the faith and get involved.
 
 
+7 # dquandle 2017-07-24 13:03
The "Democrats", had the past eight years, at least the first two of which, with majorities in both houses of congress. They gave us war, more war, gleeful presidential drone strike murder, invasion of Libya giving Libya to ISIS, a US/Saudi genocide in Yemen, with Obama/Clinton arranging nearly as much in armament sales as Trump just did, and a nazi coup with extraordinary atrocities, completely supported by the US in Ukraine. They gave us stunning domestic police violence, with complete absolution for the monsters in blue. They gave us extraordinary plunder and rape by Wall Street and Heritage/Romney government-sanc tioned extortion instead of healthcare. And then they plundered and raped even more to bail the parasites out. They don't need more time. They need a rope around their necks and a hard kick off the platform.
 
 
+6 # librarian1984 2017-07-25 10:40
As Jimmy Dore says, if I don't want war, which party do I vote for?

If we don't want fracking, which party do we vote for?

If we want single payer healthcare, which party do we vote for?

If we want to end corporate subsidies and kowtowing to Wall Street, which party represents us?
 
 
+3 # tedrey 2017-07-25 12:44
During my lifetime, none.
 
 
-2 # Caliban 2017-07-25 00:23
Excellent contrarian assessment.
 
 
+8 # Jaax88 2017-07-23 21:36
Good article. Convinced me that the status quo with the Demo party is untenable in order to get progressive policies and politicians into place.
 
 
+1 # jzacksmd 2017-07-23 21:40
Part of the impediment to moving forward has been the regression to personal attacks, led by Trump. The recent "Town-Hall" meeting of Bernie and Kasich was uplifting. Whichever party offers an admirable leader who restores decency in discourse - an absence of personal attack - stands the greatest chance to restore confidence in the minds of the majority. It seems more likely that that will be a Democrat...but it's not a certainty.
 
 
+12 # elkingo 2017-07-23 22:33
"people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill."

That is the Calvinist cruelty attitude which dominates the capitalist West. "God doesn't like those filthy beggars and they "get what they deserve". And yes, the Dems suck too - a party of capitalist oppression, with a slightly different surface coloration from the Repukelicans.
 
 
+5 # elkingo 2017-07-23 22:44
"We need a revolution, now!" Bertolt Brecht.
 
 
+17 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-24 05:14
This is a good article. It clearly indicts the leadership of the democratic party. There are many rank and file democrats who do want the party to stand for the values that Sanders expresses with the addition of anti-war provisions and a rejection of US imperialism. But the party leadership is just the same as the republicans. This says it all --


"Indeed, many of the most powerful Democratic politicians and donors seem to hate the sick and poor almost as much as Trump does. How else to explain why Chuck Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Representative Carolyn Maloney would party in the Hamptons with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway and David Koch while the latter group was attempting to strip healthcare from tens of millions of people? "


The Clintons, Podestas, Perezs -- all need to go.

My suggestion has been for the democratic party membership to call a members convention this fall or winter. It should vote to remove the current leadership and name new leaders. Sanders would be great to lead this convention.

It is OK is Schumer acts as a fifth columnist on his own but it is not OK for him to do it as a party leader. The democratic party is led by a fifth column. They are paid to be that way. They need to be fired but they can be fired only if the party is taken over by its membership.
 
 
+8 # Inspired Citizen 2017-07-24 05:57
"And so, while I’m afraid of the Republicans running amok with access to nuclear weapons and the national budget, I’m also quite frightened by the Democrats’ inability to imagine a better world."

That "better world" is going to have to be foisted upon the Democrats. See FAR or Lose in Nov.

http://citizensagainstplutocracy.org/
 
 
0 # trimegestus 2017-07-24 12:25
First, the controversial news.

"You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You " is an old expression, attributed to James Carville, and Molly Ivins, among others.

It means that every political player is obliged to take the phone-calls from his/her campaign donors.
It is entirely ethical for candidates and donors to have a reciprocal relationship. Feedback from donors can and should be the basis for the agenda of an elected official.

Second, the very good news.

Bernie Sanders ran a campaign based on progressive economic issues; and his campaign raised $240m from millions of donors. This is an unprecedented achievement for a left-of-center presidential candidate. It is the most powerful lesson of the 2016 election.

Where can we go from here?

The progressive movement, including OurRevolution, now has the keys to success, if it can devise a feedback mechanism that is transparent and democratic. The movement cannot succeed if there are no feedback channels.

What is a feedback channel?

If one of the above RSN commentators donates $50 to a movement PAC or a candidate's PAC, then the PAC should reciprocate with an invitation to a quarterly PAC conference located near the donor's home. Example: a summer conference in Western Iowa and another in Eastern Iowa.

The mission of each conference should be to solicit the views and priorities of the conference attendees. I'm confident that such an event can be facilitated effectively.

~~~ Peace ~~~
 
 
+2 # tedrey 2017-07-26 13:52
Put the last comments by Rodion and by Trismegistus together and we've really got something.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN