for Taking Back the Democratic Party
One: Who's Got It Now?
The aborted election of 2000 left a lot of Democrats angry,
apprehensive, and suspicious. We knew, on the gut level,
that something was deeply wrong with American democracy. A
variety of tempting scapegoats offered themselves—the Electoral
College system, low voter turnout, Republican 'dirty tricks,'—even
our own candidate's uninspiring, disorganized, and diffuse
These are all valid causes for concern, and their relationship
to the distasteful anticlimax of the national election shows
that they are, indeed, symptoms of an ailing democracy. But
perhaps even more disturbing than these indications of failure
in our two-party system is the aftermath of Election 2000.
Without a clear mandate from the citizenry—indeed, with the
most dubious 'mandate' in the history of the Republic—the
man anointed by the Supreme Court as Chief Executive has been
able to advance a startlingly extremist, partisan agenda.
And this without meaningful opposition, without objection
or hindrance from the duly-elected representatives of our
Party. What went wrong? What is wrong?
Who are these "Democratic" pod people, and how
did they end up in positions of power and responsibility?
Why do they feel comfortable maintaining the fiction that
they are Democrats, while bending over and smiling for the
And, most importantly, how can we fix the situation?
There is only one answer: We must take back our Party.
"Take it back" from whom?
Who is in control of the Democratic Party in 2001? Workers?
Can't be, or our representatives would not be holding still
as the GOP trashes workplace safety rules, renders union bidders
non-competitive for Federal contracts, and intervenes in labor
disputes on behalf of employers.
Classic social-policy do-gooder liberals? We know they're
not in charge, or our elected representatives couldn't get
away with voting to confirm an extreme right-wing religious
fanatic as Attorney General.
Hippie pinko welfare cheats? If they were in charge, you
can bet there'd be a hue and cry over the current regime's
plans to trash initiatives that benefit poor children.
The 'little guy?' Heck no—the little guy can't be in charge,
or our Democratic pols would have formed a solid, effective
phalange of opposition to the Bush plan to use spare change
to bribe the little guy to look the other way while they trash
the economy and make gigantic payoffs to their wealthy friends.
Our "Democratic" pols would never have colluded
in removing the protection of the bankruptcy rules that benefit
the average Joe who gets in over his head.
I won't even mention minorities and tree-huggers. We KNOW
they're not in charge here.
Let's see if we can put together some clues—some new, some
old—and figure out just who is pulling the strings
at Democratic Party headquarters. Here's a few hints:
They're beholden to corporations and the wealthy, who contribute
big bucks. So they're pro-NAFTA, and they're looking eagerly
forward to supporting the FTAA—measures that will add lots
of zeros to the bottom-line figures of business, while effectively
trashing worker's rights and reducing their standard of living.
They were dubious about McCain-Feingold, not because it has
too many loopholes for PAC money and other toxic political
effluvia, but because they worried about their own ability
to keep their war chests full of those big corporate soft-money
They label the legacy of FDR "irrelevant," "out-of-date,"
and "obsolescent," and they call the Great Society
programs of the sixties "a failure."
Winning elections has become an end in itself. Rather than
promoting the changes that will lead to greater economic and
social justice in America , the only promises they're keen
to keep seem to involve paying off their current and future
campaign donors and funneling government-funded pork to various
hmmmm.... two, plus two... connect the dots....
Looks like while we were all off having lives, someone snuck
in and grabbed our Party. It's not exactly clear if it was
stolen from us outright, or if well-intentioned campaign
hacks agreed to rent it out. But the result is clear:
people power has been replaced by corporate power.
They may call themselves a lot of things... "pragmatist,"
"worried about an iffy seat in their District,"
"New Democrats," "DLC," "concerned
about bi-partisanship," "Centrist Democrats"—but
whatever they claim, even the most die-hard Democrat has to
wonder if Ralph Nader was right when he said the Democrats
and Republicans were no different.
In the old days, this kind of behavior—putting campaign money
first, deriding the social accomplishments of the New Deal
and the Great Society, playing patsy for the Big Business
interests—was a dead giveaway for a Good Old Plutocrat—a.k.a.,
TO PART TWO »
Is it Worth Saving?