Let's save the Democratic Party — by holding corporate Dems accountable

There is a never-ending debate among progressive Democrats about whether to break away from the Democratic Party.  Recently, that debate has heated up — for example, on discussion forums of progressive Dems in Washington State.

The victory of Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant over long-time Democratic stalwart Richard Conlin should have been a wake-up call to Washington State Democrats.    Now State House chair Frank Chopp is being challenged by a young Socialist woman, Jess Spear, who helped spearhead the successful campaign for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle. A loss by Chopp in November, or poor performance in the primary, would be disastrous for the Democratic Party.

If you listen to Democratic Party defenders, they’d say that the Republicans are to blame for the failure of the Dems to enact many progressive (and centrist) policies. There is much truth to this spin, both in Washington State and in D.C.   Here in Washington, the Senate Majority Coalition thwarted several progressive initiatives, on women’s health, transportation, the environment, and revenue.    In US Congress, Republicans have opposed virtually every progressive or even moderate policy initiative of the Democrats.

But you can’t blame just the Republicans.

In Seattle why didn’t the Dems take the lead in pushing for a $15 minimum wage?

Why did the Dems go along with the granting of $9 billion in tax breaks to Boeing. You can’t just blame Boeing for that. Governor Inslee spearheaded the move, despite the already cash-starved state treasury and despite the McCleary decision by the State Supreme Court mandating more school funding.

Why aren’t the Dems doing something to fix our upside-down state tax system, the most regressive in the nation?   They should be holding hearings and writing articles for newspapers. It should be a central part of their messaging.  They’re largely silent on the issue.  Neither Governor Gregoire nor, especially, Governor Inslee has taken any lead in calling for progressive taxation.

In the state legislature, it’s not just turncoats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon who have betrayed Democratic values.  Rep. Ross Hunter led the effort to grant tax breaks to his former company, Microsoft.  See Ross Hunter Wants to Give Microsoft $100 Million Tax Break, Washington Still Poor and The Third Anniversary of Washington States’ Big Tax Gift to Microsoft and Microsoft Tax Scam Costs our State $1 Billion per year!.

Nationally, if Dems are sincere about their desire to help the middle class, why were they silent when the leader of the Democratic Party surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies, filled regulatory agencies with corporate hacks, prosecuted whistle blowers, crushed Occupy, expanded the NSA, enacted a health care plan designed by the Heritage Institute, etc., etc., etc?

A decade earlier, President Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall and passed NAFTA.

Indeed, GOP front-runner Rand Paul is running to the left of Democratic front-runner Hilary Clinton on two issues: support for Wall Street and militarism.  See Shockingly, Rand Paul Could be the GOP Nominee and Trouble for the Dems and Hillary’s Candid Motto for Democratic Party: “Represent Banks”.

Lots of young people, especially in the cities, think the Democrats are little better than the Republicans.  Obama’s defense of the security state and his friendliness to Wall Street  have convinced many young people that libertarianism will help them.

In 2008, the country was fed up with the corruption and mismanagement of the GOP and was ready for real change. That’s not at all what Obama delivered. Anyone in the know realizes that Obama ruled as a moderate, not as a liberal and certainly not as a progressive. As Obama said of himself, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

History will show the extent to which Obama betrayed the Democratic Party.

Many Dems would privately agree that Obama has been a disappointment, or even a disaster. But, most Dems would say that we need to keep this inconvenient truth secret, lest the Dems lose big in the midterm elections and in 2016.  We must hold our tongues, swallow our pride, and suppress our rage.

For what?  So Hilary can be president? She’s even more corporate and hawkish than Obama.   True, she’d be better than any likely GOP nominee, including Rand Paul.   But need we set the bar so low?

Now, I think the Republicans are, in fact, much worse the Democrats. And libertarianism — or its close cousin, anarchism — would be a giveaway of control to the corporations and a reversal of many decades of progressive legislation and programs.  There are many good Dems, and the party platform, especially in Washington State, is a progressive document.

But unless the party holds accountable the corporate, militaristic Dems among its ranks, and unless it is more welcoming to leftists, it will have trouble convincing the American people that it deserves their support.  Millions of people will flee the party, towards socialism or libertarianism, or people will skip voting.

Save the Democratic Party. Kick out the corporate Dems. Speak the truth about our unfair economy — and act on it.

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