Democrats and the left
This post was inspired by Chris Floyd's attack on Robert Parry's Vanity of Perfectionism, and Is Making a Protest Vote in Presidential Elections a Vanity Choice?
Let me say right up front that I am a huge admirer of Robert Parry, whose Consortium News is the finest reference source for the misconduct of the American right. Well researched, sourced, you just can't find better. So while I would be dismissive of someone like Kos, I will lay out my thinking somewhat more respectfully when responding to someone of Parry's caliber.
First of all we should remember that the Democratic party has always had an uneasy relationship with the left. The Democratic party is a child of the 18th century, to represent farmers and artisans against the banking interests. It evolved into an unlikely coalition of northern immigrants and southern whites. It was the party of enfranchisement of the disenfranchised, but it was always about identity politics. It was never about any Marxist class consciousness. The Democratic party has always regarded the left as that embarrassing relative they need, but don't want to take into polite company.
I am one of the few members of my generation who supported Hubert Humphrey in 1968. If you were born after Nixon, you can scarcely imagine the turbulence of those times. The strain of so much cultural change overwhelmed the electorate. Until the primary wars of 2008, I did not understand the anger of the anti-war left.
What was the rational for Humphrey's candidacy? LBJ withdrew after Eugene McCarthy made a good showing in the NH primary. (Little known fact, LBJ won the primary, but McCarthy declared his close showing as a "moral victory.") With LBJ out Bobby Kennedy entered the race. McCarthy and Kennedy slugged it out in the states with primaries (which were few in those days) while HHH worked the party insiders to deliver the caucus states for him. In other words, HHH expected the nomination to be handed to him as the heir apparent.
Then things went really sour. MLK Jr. was murdered and America's cities erupted in flames. We have had riots since then, but only occasionally and then only one city at a time. This was completely different, hundreds of cities were set on fire, and support for civil rights and anti-poverty programs were burnt to a cinder. It was never again fashionable to be a liberal, although liberals would not figure that out until November 1972.
Still the primaries went on, Bobby Kennedy won most of them, but McCarthy won a few, and HHH did not enter any of them. The last primary was California, where Bobby Kennedy was murdered. I can only guess what his supporters were feeling. And how could HHH reach out to them under those circumstances? It was a truly horrible year.
According to Humphrey the convention was run by LBJ and Mayor Daley, HHH was not consulted on anything. Humphrey's nomination and acceptance speech was overwhelmed by the infamous police riot in Grant Park. To voters it looked like the Democrats were out of control at a time when they were looking for stability.
And so HHH entered the general election broke and 20 points behind in the polls. But once he broke with LBJ on the Vietnam war, he began to pick up support and lost by the narrowest of margins. I have bitter memories of people who did not vote because they told me there was no difference between Humphrey in Nixon. No Presidential election in my lifetime has offered a greater contrast. Humphrey was the last Presidential nominee who was pro-labor. His defeat was a catastrophic loss for labor and the middle class.
And so Nixon took power and things got worse, and the war was widened to Laos and Cambodia. The anti-war crowd took control of the Democratic party (with a little help from Nixon saboteurs) and McGovern was nominated in 1972. History has been unfair to McGovern. McGovern won most of the Humphrey voters, it is just that in 1972 Nixon won all that voted for him in 1968 plus the Wallace voters, that gave him a landslide. But Watergate drove voters back into the arms of the Democratic party.
And so in 1976 the nation elected Jimmy Carter. I am an unabashed supporter of Jimmy Carter. I liked him in 1976, 1980 and like him now. Charles Pierce alerts us that Walter Karp has written the definitive history of the Versailles Dems destruction of the Carter Presidency.
As Robert Parry says, many liberal Dems voted for John Anderson or didn't vote at all and that contributed to the magnitude of the defeat. Reading excerpts from Karp's work confirms my view that the Democratic Party began its slow motion suicide under Jimmy Carter. Moreover Parry has documented how the press was taken over by right wing investors who turned its editorial line sharply to the right.
So we got the Reagan presidency and the assault on labor and the middle class began in earnest. I won't go into all the ways Democrats and the press rolled before Reagan, let us just fast forward to the Clinton Presidency.
Except two very important things happened, Rhenquist was made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Clarence Thomas was also put on the Supreme Court. Both were opposed by liberals, and it was clear in both perjured themselves in their confirmation testimony. Democratic Senators could have kept them off, but disregarded their liberal supporters. Senators voting to confirm Rhenquist for Chief Justice and Clarence Thomas for Justice included Senator Al Gore. My point is that when Democratic politicians disregard their liberal supporters they put it out of our power to protect them. Al Gore won Florida. Five Supreme Court Justices stole the election. Had Al Gore listened to us and voted against confirming those justices he would have been President. You just can't put the blame on liberals.
In someways Clinton was a replay of the Carter Presidency, a southern Governor who was not supposed to win and was not acceptable the Sally Quinn and the Versailles Villagers. But Clinton is a better politician than Carter and was able to outmaneuver his opponents. I will always think that if Gephardt had been willing to make the 1998 election about preventing an impeachment the American people clearly did not want the Democrats would have retaken the house. But party insiders could not see how popular Clinton was and how unpopular his opponents were. And so Gore was nominated in 2000. And Diebold and the five corrupt Supreme Court Justices stole the election. True, had Gore won Oregon, Florida would not have mattered, and clearly the Nader vote was the decisive factor in Oregon. But had Rhenquist and Thomas been kept off the court the Florida votes would have been counted and the winner would have taken power.
With each set back the Democratic party has been more overrun by the kleptocracy. I simply don't recognize the Democratic party. Obama is a horrible president. It is not just a few issues, he is completely horrible. He reappointed all those corrupt US Attorneys and most of the other Bush appointees. Obama has been expanding the national security state, persecuting whistle blowers, authorizing deep sea drilling, fracking, and generally doing nothing to stop climate change. And it is not just Obama, the Democratic party is entirely in the hands of banksters. And if Obama is reelected who will succeed him, Biden? Andrew Cuomo? Spare me.
As lambert has so often pointed out, settling for the lesser evil carries a terrible opportunity cost. If we are ever to reestablish rule by the people we need a people's party. We need to start building that party. I put it to you that that party is the Green party, but your mileage may vary. The important thing is to find the emergent party candidates who are running in your jurisdiction, not just for President, but at every level. It is on the local level that emergent party candidates have the best chance of success, so voting for down ballot candidate is especially important.
Predictions are hard, especially about the future, but I predict that by 2016, no later then 2024 there will be three political parties in the US: the Republicans, who by then will have imploded into a regional party of Utah, Wyoming, Texas, and the Delta South, the Democrats, who will be like the Republicans under Eisenhower, for the oligarchs and the empire, and the Greens who will be the party of the people and environmentalism.
Note - If you live in Palm Beach, please vote for http://www.lisaforclerk.com/ Lisa Epstein for Clerk.