The script becomes really boring after a while: a leftist (say for instance, me) points out that a particular behavior of the Democratic leadership is no different from a particular behavior of the GOP leadership, a dyed-in-the-wool Dem takes issue and points out horrible thing X the Republicans did that the Dems did not and challenges me to now say that there is no difference between the two parties. I find myself flustered and angry every time I encounter this. Never have I, or any other leftist, said the two parties are the same, yet that is the Democratic faithful’s favorite straw man to hang on us.
Only a simpleton would claim the two parties are exactly the same. The Republican party has for years represented a bigoted world view. They have pandered to racial hatred to cut into the welfare state far deeper than the Dems would. They have pandered to religious zealotry to try to deny women their rights. They have used that same zealotry to demonize me and people like me. They are obviously, on economic issues, further to the right of the Democrats. So no, they are not the same.
That does not mean the Dems, and our President should get a pass. Yes the GOP is farther to the right, that does not make the opposition a liberal party. The Dems have accepted, and even suggested, austerity measures that affect the poorest Americans while leaving a bloated, wasteful, military budget largely untouched. The Dems have nominated captains of industry to police their friends (I believe this has been mentioned here at least once before.) They have continued Bush-era assaults on privacy and civil liberties and hid under the skirts of the Republicans to avoid closing (the international law violating) prison at Gitmo. The Democrats have rattled the saber as vigorously as any Republican in my lifetime. So no, they have failed, or at least their leadership has failed, to represent the Progressive idea on these issues.
Maybe as a Democrat you are OK with that, though I will point out that many of the Dems that are suddenly aren’t when these ideas are put forth by Republicans. Maybe as a Democrat you don’t think your party should be the party of Progressives. Fine, that does not mean the Democrats that do believe so should lie down and let the austerity hounds and war hawks take over their party. It doesn’t mean Progressives should quiet down just because the Republicans are worse. It means those of us who do fight for the left need to stand up and be heard because no one else is speaking for our causes. No one else is fighting for the poor, for workers, for innocent victims of American bombs half a world away, for the environment, or, in short, those who cannot fight for themselves.
Once upon a time the Dems sold themselves as the party that did that. Maybe some of you still believe your party should be that way, but it has been hijacked by leadership more interested in maintaining a status quo. Both mainstream parties have been bought and paid for, and their masters will not allow any talk outside a narrow, drifting ever right, scope. If you, as a Democrat, want that to change, you need to challenge your leadership and encourage qualified Progressives to primary against those who cater to the moneyed elite. That, or you can join those of us who have found homes outside the mainstream parties. If you don’t do one of those things, then clearly you do not care enough about the ideas you claim to hold so dear, and unfortunately, that makes you, not I, part of the problem.
- In case you wonder why some Dems cling to austerity (dailykos.com)
- Mike McCabe to Dems: Grow a pair (host.madison.com)
- Reeling SC Dems look to rebuild (thestate.com)
- Liberals Furious Over Obama’s Budget – Krugman Predicts Plan Will Blow Up In His Face (businessinsider.com)