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The DNC: Liberals Need Not Apply

On Saturday, the DNC voted on who would be the new party Chair. The position is a mostly administrative one, but the contest became a somewhat symbolic battle; Keith Ellison, a black, Muslim liberal, was running against Tom Perez, a more moderate candidate hand-picked by the establishment to block him. Electing Ellison was the last chance for the Democratic party to make some kind gesture to the party’s liberal wing, which has long been left out in the cold by the party’s elites. They elected Perez.

Both Glen Greenwald and Clio Chang have argued (quite compelling) that the decision to run Perez was made at the behest of Hiam Saban, a mega-donor who literally built the DNC headquarters. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the leaked DNC emails, in which the Hilary Clinton campaign blatantly traded favors and influence for the financial support of large donors. Still, it was a bit jarring to see the Democrats, after suffering the most absolute and humiliating defeat in modern political history, toss aside their last chance to appeal to their liberal base.

The only conclusion I can come to is that the Democrats don’t see a need to appeal to their base. They instead intend to sit back and wait for Trump to implode in order to regain power. That actually wouldn’t be the worst strategy, providing he doesn’t take the country with him. It would also explain why, instead of trying to appeal to their liberal voters, Democrats are instead begging Bernie Sanders to placate them. But it leaves liberals like myself with only one possible conclusion to come to; the Democratic party no longer wants us.

We can no longer pretend that the Democratic Party has any place for liberals, nor has it for several decades. Let’s look at the economy. It was Bill Clinton who deregulated wall street and eliminated the Glass-Steagall Act, making him directly responsible for the 2008 financial collapse. It was his wife on the campaign trail who defended that decision. And let’s not forget Barack Obama, the president that decided to bail out the country’s largest banks while leaving homeowners to fend for themselves. And of course it was the Democrats in the House and Senate that decided to make President Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans a permanent. All in all, it would seem modern Democrats have more in common with President Regan than anyone else.

Let’s look our foreign policy and security programs. It was President Obama who brought our drone program to unprecedented levels, bringing drone strikes against countries we are not at war with and lying about the number of civilian casualties. It was president Obama that exploited, expanded, and defended the NSA’s massive domestic spying program (something he campaigned AGAINST in 2008). In fact, the only brief respite from the NSA bulk collection of American’s data came to us from Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican. Objectively, you have to admit Obama’s security policy has been closer to George W. Bush’s than any other president’s.

I do have to admit that the Democrats are much better on civil rights issues; the Democratic congress voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, and President Obama ensured that Transgender Students could use the bathroom of their gender identity (since repealed by his successor). However, it was a conservative Supreme court that legalized gay marriage, which  President Obama did not actually support it until nearly its second term. Furthermore, you can’t understate the harm done to America’s black and Latino communities by President Clinton’s notorious Crime Bill, which expanded private prisons and cemented mandatory minimums (nor should we forget his wife’s support of it). Though Barack Obama did make some small progress on limiting the scope of the Prison Industrial Complex, that has again been undone (and then some) by his successor. All this is not to say that the Democrats aren’t clearly better than Republicans on civil rights, but to pretend they are champions of social justice is naïve at best.

Meanwhile, let’s look at what our beloved Democrats have done since their massive defeat. Nancy Pelosi, the woman who once distanced herself from Elizabeth Warren’s anti-Wall Street rhetoric, was reelected house minority leader. Chuck Schumer, a staunch Wall Street defender, has been made the senate minority leader. Even Al From, a long forgotten party official from Bill Clinton’s era, was dusted off and dispatched to defend Neo-Liberalism against the liberal wing. These aren’t the actions of a party that wants to galvanize their base; these are the actions of a party that want’s to reassure its donors.

It’s time to admit that the Democratic party is just another bastion for the ultra-rich, and they want to make sure that their VIPs are taken care of. They want to make sure the money keeps flowing to the party, that the connected people feel like they’re being heard. After all, there are favors to be traded and debts to be repaid. They have to be sure that the, “right people” are in charge. Winning elections is great, but they also have to keep their paying customers happy. And if these uppity liberals don’t support them right now, fine, let them have a few years of the GOP and they’ll come crawling back. In the meantime, the stockholders need reassuring, and the DNC just doesn’t have time to placate the little people. Even if it’s just a symbolic victory in Keith Ellison.

All sources cited via hyperlink throughout article.

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