Democratic Underground
Part 1 Who's Got It Now?
Part 2 Is it Worth Saving?
Part 3 It's Up To Us
Part 4 Learn From Experience
Part 5 Learn From the Opposition
Part 6 Inspiration and Perspiration
Part 7 Laying Foundations
Part 8 Making It Happen
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A Blueprint for Taking Back the Democratic Party
May 2001
by TygrBright

A Blueprint for Taking Back the Democratic Party

Part 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 campaign.

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 Republican agenda?

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 donations.

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 special interests.

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., GOP.

ON TO PART TWO » Is it Worth Saving?