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The Legacy Parties are now fundamentally broken

gqmartinez's picture

Over on the sidebar, Lambert links to Bill Moyers with the following quote from Barack Obama:

In 2003, a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama told an AFL-CIO meeting, "I am a proponent of a single-payer universal healthcare program*."

If you read a little further on, you'll see Obama saying the following

"All of you know we might not get there immediately because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate and we have to take back the House."

There was a time when I believed that. From about 2002 until 2007, I was a Democrat to the core. Rather than birthday gifts, I requested people donate to the DNC, DCCC, or DSCC. When I wasn't in lab (I was a grad student), chances are I was doing something to help the Democrats. I wasn't the only one with such fervor. The online community was full of progressive and liberal activists who believed that once we win Congress things will be OK. When very little changed in 2007, the argument was that we needed the White House. But since Democrats took over Congress and the Executive branch, Democrats have gotten more conservative when they should have gotten more liberal as promised. They didn't. "More and better Democrats" did not work, revealing that they are fundamentally broken. (I don't need to talk about the brokeness of the GOP do I?)

Some might argue otherwise, but as time goes by its becoming more and more obvious that this is the case. Something is rotten at the very core of the Democratic Party and no amount of Democrats will change this. Hell, it might even make things worse. This must be taken into consideration when considering ideas like the Full Court Press. Is spending time and money--more and more precious commodities these day--on the Democratic Party worth it if they are fundamentally broken? Can you trust a political party that not only holds fraudulent elections but institute rules to ensure the election is fraudulent? Can you ever win in a system that rigs elections?

Some people tried to save the Whig Party in the 1850s, but that was a losing endeavor. I'm coming to believe that the same is true of the Democratic Party. (And if you look at the Whig factions back then and compare them to the Dem factions of today, you'll see a much closer resemblance than comparing the Whigs to the modern day GOP.) Liberalism, at its core, is about positive change. Neither the Dems or the GOP are about positive change and our 2010 strategy should consider that. If the Republican Party can replace the Whigs in less than 10 years at a time when communication and access to information was much, much slower, surely we can replace the Democrats in less time. One or two "Justice Party" candidates in 2010 would be a boon to our prospects in 2012, when things will probably be worse than they are now.

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

It's just that the "better" is a near-certain non-starter or, at best, far too marginal to be of any significance.

The last few years have been a learning experience for me, to see how powerful and destructive tribalism is. It should have been obvious to me that "more Democrats" would be the only real goal (or at least more, more-profitable, and more-aggrandizing "activism" on their behalf), with "better Democrats" being a pipe dream or a bait-and-switch.

So, no, I don't trust that the Democrat tribe will ever be serious about "better."

It's all but certain the party will remain a roach motel for progressive energies, not just because the party regulars want it that way, but because donkey fans are no more discerning about the politics of their candidates (and the elites they proxy out their decisions to) than elephant fans are.

That said, I'd love to be proven wrong and to see the FCP be a roaring success in moving the Democrats to the left. I'm just not betting on it, and I'm going to be a tough sell for much of any Democrats for the foreseeable future.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

is that a sociopathic consciousness has taken over the forward motion of our nation. The class war is the obvious manifestation of that, but it's bigger than that - it's our obsession with war and torture. Our love of candidates who win in clever ways. All of that stuff. Sociopaths are frequently obsessed with clever little ways to beat the system in the moment - they usually see their ability to root these cheats out as evidence of their brilliance - and we've become a nation of clever cheats.

What to make of a Democratic candidate who looks at the nomination process and realizes that he can win by beating a popular Democrat in red states that have a disproportionately large assignment of delegates? That's a clearly dishonest manipulation of the system - how is that someone that Democrats should want to elect? How does the party of the people justify nominating someone whose nomination depends upon disenfranchising the voters of two states?

What seems to have happened to a lot of formerly good Democrats (I'm lookin' at you, John Kerry) is that they have decided that since they can't beat them, they should join them. Sure, they intend to be more conscientious than the right - they won't go along with school lunch money being cut. But they are still there to enhance their own life and the lives of their family and friends and whatever is left can go to the rest of us. They are as much about creating a ruling class, now, as the right has always been. Gore subordinated himself to the ruling class, at the moment where not doing so counted. With Bush's triumph, our nation definitively embarked on a different journey. Obama is a continuation of that drive. These people behind Bush and Obama will break our nation because that is what sociopaths do - they destroy the very thing that people, including themselves, rely on for survival.

I don't think it's about party. It's about rhetoric and access to a megaphone loud enough that ordinary people can here.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

The data are what they are. And they suggest that we won't win with the Democrats. If that's true, than what are we to do? How did the GOP, which was made up of a rough coalition at the time, come to prominence in such a short period of time? Can we learn any lessons from that time? We have so many new tools to catalyze a real change. How do we use them? I'm not interested in playing by the rules of the legacy parties. We lose if we try to. We can invent our own rules once we abandon the yoke of the patriarchal legacy parties. I think its worth a try. At least as much as the FCP (which is still playing by the LP rules).

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Did the early Republicans rely only on very wealthy people? I just got into that period of time in history so I don't know. If you are talking about the contemporary conservative movement, I think you have to separate the conservative movement from the GOP. The conservative movement was a rather nonpartisan creed in its early years. In fact, if you look at the evolution of the current GOP, there has been a fair amount of swapping of party allegiances. The South used to be a Democratic stronghold, but that changed during he Dixiecrat era. And the northeast? That was Republican territory. The full scale latching onto the GOP by the conservative players came quite a bit later in the process, late 70s really, when the moral majority joined forces with the Southern Strategy practitioners. Then the anti-tax jihadists jumped in as well.

Its clear to me, though, that modeling ourselves after the conservative movement is a losing endeavor. I used to be of that view--we need think tanks, advocacy groups, a media network, etc. But we obtained those in the last 10 years and things have not gotten better. Its time to adopt new plans based on different rules.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

We can't play that way.

We also are narcotized by access bloggers and trendy advocacy groups, which dissipates us at the grassroots level.

The only thing likely to change anything is a galvanizing event. However, the lords of the creative class are well situated to ensure we make the least of the moment. Well meaning, and all, as they surely are.