On November 3, 2020 (Election Day in the United States), I published an extraordinarily long post in which I discussed my thoughts about the presidential election, why I would not vote for the top two candidates running (Joe Biden and Donald Trump), and the prospect of voting third-party. I don’t know who read that post (it was long and I wrote some things that many people will disagree with), but I was always ready to defend my views because I have been sitting with those thoughts for a very long time.
On Monday, November 16, 2020, I received this comment from CalicoJack regarding the post:
I understand your frustration with the two-party system and your desire to vote third-party, but I don’t agree. I’ll distill my argument to this: why do you think Sanders ran as a Democrat and not as a third-party candidate. He never thought he could win apart from a heady month or so in 2016 and another in 2020. So, why’d he do it? Because he recognizes that true reform and change in the US will not come from revolution and throwing out the Constitution for a re-written one. If you think the powers that be control elections, you can be damn sure they’ll control that process. But, through incremental — although he was going for more than incremental change — from the inside. He pushed the Overton window to the left. It is now imperative that we take advantage of that by electing Democrats who can enact legislation and reforms that will be left-leaning.
Democracies will always be centerist governments. Democracies blend the voices, opinions, and desires of their electorates. In a sense they average us. The fundamental flaw in our democracy is that it is dominated by big money interests and that was before Citizen’s United. The only way out of it, though, is by electing Democratic majorities who are right now responding to the progressive element of the party and willing to pass electoral reform. By 2022, they likely will have moved on. New issues will be on the table and the electorate will be regressing towards the mean.
My opinion is that we work within the system to move it to the left because democracies will always hover around the middle.
This comment was thoughtful, and it was rich, but I must respectfully disagree with Jack here. Now, I wanted to respond to him under the original post, but to avoid writing a monster comment under a monster post, I decided to write out a thorough response in another post.
Before I continue, I must warn you: I plan to go hard against powerful people in this post. I don’t like to shame voters, but I won’t be surprised if this post offends some people who read it. However, there is a difference between shaming voters, which I don’t really care for and trying to hold politicians accountable.
Now, what do I want to say? For starters, I would like to talk about why Bernie Sanders ran in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. Other topics in this post include: how feasible it is the work within the Democratic Party, what the Democratic Party should have been in this two-party system, and what the fundamental flaws in the American system of government are. As a bonus, I want to talk about the need for a new Constitution, despite how hard it may be to get one.
Why Did Bernie Sanders Run in Two Democratic Presidential Primaries?
Below, I pose the same semi-rhetorical question, but for another reason and I would provide different answers. For now, here are three reasons why I think Sanders ran for president in the Democratic Party:
- Bernie Sanders ran as a Democrat in 2016 and 2020 because he is a company man.
- Sanders ran in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries because he is a sheepdog.
- Sanders ran as a Democrat, quickly folded, then advocated for Hillary and Biden because he was afraid of being pegged as another “Ralph Nader.”
That said, I pose the following question: Why did Bernie Sanders run in a party where he and his supporters are unwelcome? I’ll discuss that in another section.
Bernie Sanders the Company Man
A little-discussed aspect of Bernie Sanders’ congressional career is the deal that he made with Democrats after losing a race for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988. After that race, in which a Republican won due to the split vote on the left, Sanders spent six months at the Kennedy School at Harvard and forged a relationship with Vermont’s Democrats. As part of the deal, Sanders could run in the Democratic Party’s primary (for the House and then the U.S. Senate) and the party would not run an authorized candidate against him. In return, Sanders would do all he could to block third parties’ attempts to become viable in Vermont (and nationally).
Over the years, Sanders has benefited from this deal in terms of elections and being put in senior positions on congressional committees. He joined the House Democratic Caucus in 1991. To keep his place in leadership positions and in Congress, Sanders has often voted with the Democrats on procedural matters. He is still allowed to vote however he wants on certain issues, but he has outflanked unsanctioned Democratic candidates to the right in Vermont when running for re-election.
Since caucusing with the Democrats in Congress, Sanders has regularly endorsed Democratic presidential nominees. He endorsed Bill Clinton for president in 1992 and 1996. Sanders supported Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008. Although Sanders considered a primary challenge to Obama in 2012, it was only based on Obama’s failure to help struggling Americans and Sanders ultimately decided against challenging Obama electorally.
How Sanders Played His Role in 2016
Now, I know that Sanders and other Democrats had to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee to run in the 2020 Democratic primary, but there was no such deal in 2016. That was the chance he had to use his leverage against the Democrats to get concessions for his followers lest he takes those followers with him for an independent run or the Green Party, which ultimately had ballot access in 47 states.
Yet Sanders never used that leverage. In fact, he quickly answered in the affirmative when George Stephanopoulos asked him if he would support Hillary if she became the nominee then. When the time came, Sanders even chastised his followers to support Hillary Clinton, despite their protestations and boos. After the Democratic Convention that year, Sanders held 39 campaign rallies to help get Clinton elected, again, doing more than the Democratic establishment’s choice than the nominee and the nominee’s team did to reach out to voters.
What’s more, is that Sanders refused to call out the DNC for its interference in the 2016 Democratic primaries. The DNC had been taken over by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign even before the primaries were held, it limited the number of debates, it adjusted the primary schedule so that HRC would gain a head of steam from Southern states, there were illegal voter purges in several states (namely New York), and open cheating during primary caucuses (namely in Nevada).
How Sanders Played His Role Since 2017
In the same vein, Sanders supported the Russiagate narrative. The accusation of Russian collusion with Trump’s campaign team during the 2016 presidential election was not only used to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s election, but it was also used against Sanders, movements like Black Lives Matter, and any leftist and populist who wanted to challenge the status quo.
Additionally, Sanders wasted more time cavorting with DNC Chair Tom Perez, just months after Perez had won the contest to lead the party apparatus. (Sanders had endorsed Keith Ellison, then a representative from Minnesota, who had thrown his hat into the ring to become the DNC chair. It looks like Ellison was well on his way until Obama pushed Perez to run.) In 2017, Sanders went with Perez on a nine-state “Unity Tour,” and the party left Sanders with a $100,000 bill.
How Sanders Played His Role in 2020
This role of Sanders as a Democratic Company Man was no more apparent than it was this year.
After a disastrous Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders still had a chance to win the Democratic nomination, but he essentially folded and quickly endorsed Joe Biden. Granted, this was a pandemic year, so it was dangerous for any candidates to campaign normally, but Sanders’ operation basically ended after Super Tuesday and he made no attempt to reach voters and present himself as the best candidate to lead this country through the pandemic. And he would have been right, since many of his policies, especially Medicare for All, would have been crucial.
Before the primaries even started, Sanders repeatedly called Joe Biden “his friend,” refusing to call out Biden for his awful policies, such as Biden’s vote in favor of the Iraq War, Biden’s role behind the 1994 Crime Bill (he wrote it), and Biden’s attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare funding. After Biden received the Democratic nomination, Sanders went into overdrive talking up his “friend” and Sanders did more to help elect Biden than Biden or anyone on his team did.
Sanders’ Role as the Democratic Sheepdog
According to Bruce A. Dixon, this is the role of the Democratic Party’s sheepdog:
The sheepdog’s job is to divert the energy and enthusiasm of activists a year, a year and a half out from a November election away from building an alternative to the Democratic party, and into his doomed effort. When the sheepdog inevitably folds in the late spring or early summer before a November election, there’s no time remaining to win ballot access for alternative parties or candidates, no time to raise money or organize any effective challenge to the two capitalist parties.
Sanders never really intended to win the Democratic presidential nomination when he announced his candidacy in April 2015. In fact, he wanted Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016 and only threw his hat into the ring when she stayed out of the race. Sanders was quite open about the fact that he ran in his attempt to make issues like income inequality central to the race, pull Hillary Clinton to the left, and thus entice more voters to vote Democratic. Every time he was asked, Sanders said that, yes, he would support the eventual Democratic nominee, which he did. This is the role he has played ever since.
Now, I believe that Bernie Sanders cares about people. He has advocated for many of the things in his platform since the 1960s and 1970s when he was a member of the Liberty Union Party in Vermont. Based on that record, I believe that Sanders wants to institute policies to improve Americans’ quality of life and material conditions; as such, Medicare for All and free college would be part of that agenda.
That said, Bernie Sanders is a sheepdog because he uses his agenda to lead people who would otherwise be disenchanted from the entire electoral process back to the Democratic Party. Sanders running in two Democratic presidential primaries was the best way to achieve that.
Sanders’ Fear of Being Compared to Ralph Nader
Ultimately, Sanders ran in two Democratic primaries — and bowed out of the 2020 race — because he was afraid of being labeled Ralph Nader 2.0. As many people know, Ralph Nader, a former Democrat and consumer advocate ran at the top of the Green Party ticket in 2000. Nader was blamed for “taking votes away from” Al Gore, particularly in Florida, thus giving Republican George W. Bush the White House.1
Many Americans hated Nader because of the narrative, with pundits, Democratic operatives, and even some friends of Nader imploring him not to run for president in 2004. Sanders was among those imploring Nader not to run. The belief was that Nader would “split the vote” among those willing to vote Democratic and thus allow George W. Bush to win another four years in the White House.2
As Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016, there were echoes from 2000 and 2004, with some pundits in the press asking if Sanders would serve as Hillary Clinton’s Ralph Nader. The threat of “Bernie or Bust”-ers sent a shiver down many people’s spines, and the calls for Bernie Sanders to drop out before June 2016 were loud.
Of course, Bernie Sanders was aware of these sentiments, so he pulled many of his punches from Hillary Clinton in 2016 and from Biden, whom Sanders liked, in 2020. Sanders’ reasoning was that if he had been too hard on the frontrunner, it might turn voters off to the frontrunning should they become the Democratic nominee. He didn’t want to be blamed for their losses (even though he is still blamed for HRC’s loss) and thus be marginalized like Nader still is.
Why Sanders’ Reasoning Is Wrong in This Regard
Sanders is wrong because by pulling punches, he failed to educate voters on why they should have chosen him instead of Clinton or Biden. Ultimately, Sanders also robbed the voters of a nominee that would have better distinguished himself from Republicans.
By saying that yes, Joe Biden was electable, Sanders gave voters permission to help nominate Biden instead of voting for Sanders. That was a huge failure, especially in a year with a worldwide pandemic. We need a universal basic income (UBI), quality health care that is free at the point of service, and any type of public spending increases that will help individuals in need and get COVID-19 under control, but Biden and Trump have refused to do what it takes. Trump has basically said, “You’re on your own,” and all Biden will strongly advocate for is wearing a mask.
This goes back to fear-based voting and our need to fight against it. People let their fears (of Trump and fascism) guide them toward voting for Biden, even though Biden gave them no promise that he would help them out of this pandemic or do anything to stop right-wing violence beyond just getting Trump out of office.
How Fear-Based Voting and the Concept of ‘Electability’ Lead Us Astray
I argue that the primaries are the time for candidates to be frank about their party and other candidates. Primaries are also the time for voters to be the most uncompromising.
Too often, people are told to vote for whomever they think can win in the general election, but “electability” is a myth, especially when it comes to “centrists.” Democrats nominated “moderates” like Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, with disastrous results.3 Outside of presidential elections, Democrats tend to fail when they triangulate and act like Republicans, yet win or lose, they push the Overton Window to the right, which hurts the vast majority of Americans.
Now, even though Democrats may win sometimes while running moderate candidates, the elections tend to be closer. For example, Democrats won in 1992 and 1996 with Bill Clinton, yet he only won pluralities. In 2017, Doug Jones beat Roy Moore by a razor-thin margin during the special election in Alabama for Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate Seat; Jones just lost this year in his re-election bid against Tommy Tuberville. Also, although Joe Biden has been declared the winner in 2020, this election was too close for comfort, and that’s even with Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic.
Democrats won handily with Barack Obama, even though he was moderate, but that was because he didn’t run like one. Obama had a populist message in 2008, and his candidacy provided much excitement among many disenchanted voters and especially for those voting for the first time. In 2012, Obama and the Democrats successfully (and correctly) characterized Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat. What’s more is that Democratic primaries were more open in 2008, so people felt free to vote how they wanted, and they preferred Obama over Clinton.
Must We Work Within the Democratic Party to Effect Change?
Many people say that we must work within the Democratic Party to bring about the changes we need to improve society, but they will admit that change will be slow at best. After what I have witnessed these past four years, I believe that the Democratic Party is beyond saving and that anyone who runs in this party, even if they are truly progressive, is wasting their time.
The Challenges Progressive Candidates Face
It’s an uphill battle for real populists who want to run in the Democratic Party because so few progressives can even make it past the primary, let alone the general. Not only are lefty candidates going up against big money, but they are also going against an establishment that clearly does not want them there. Lefty candidates also must contend with a corporate press, which is not only openly hostile to true lefties and populists when focusing on them but will also outright ignore good candidates often and when it is convenient.
The Challenges Progressives Face Even When They Do Hold Public Office
Additionally, anyone who wants to fight the establishment risks being co-opted or outright sabotaged. As the saying goes, “The Democratic Party is where progressivism goes to die.” Look at what has happened whenever lefties make it to Congress. They might have good ideas, but those ideas will never get a vote if the Speaker of the House is a Republican or a Democrat like Nancy Pelosi refuses to allow a vote.
Also, as Jimmy Dore often says, “One does not change the Democratic Party. It changes you.” Look at people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the squad. None of them are perfect, but AOC, in particular, is being corrupted in real-time. While it may be cathartic for her to go after Republicans on Twitter, she rarely calls out Democratic leadership although the Dem establishment serves as the greatest obstacle to change. I would argue that Sanders himself was corrupted, given his votes for the CARES Act and his votes for war beforehand. In fact, he voted in favor of the 1994 Crime Bill and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which paved the war for the Iraq War.
The Party’s Refusal to Listen to Voters
Even for activists, it is hard to get such a calcified party to listen to people’s demands. The party is openly hostile to activists, voters, and anyone who has a valid criticism of the party and its corporate politicians. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Manchin feel no need to listen to people since those Democrats are wealthy, funded by oligarchs, and will do anything to hold onto the power they already have, the rest of the party be damned.
The corporate Democrats are nicer to Republicans than they are to voters. How can we reform this?
And if you say that the answer is to get new leaders — although even this is a point of argument and fracture among non-politicians, as well — the party establishment makes that virtually impossible. This not only includes politicians who hold public office but anyone in the DNC and in-state Democratic Parties.
Party and State Corruption
Unlike the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, voters in the United States cannot vote on specific leadership positions within the DNC. These are all internally chosen positions, and many of the positions in the DNC are put in place by the serving DNC chair. To make matters worse, many of the people in the DNC are consultants and lobbyists.
At the state level, voters are outmaneuvered, especially in coastal states like California, New York, and Rhode Island. I know that in my state (CA), the Democratic Party there has a level of power that rivals the DNC, and even when we vote on delegates to help us choose another state party chair that the establishment even has its own superdelegates to overrule us.
In short, California is corrupt AF. There, we have a Democratic trifecta, which means a Democratic governor (Gavin Newsom) and Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislation (the Senate and Assembly). Republicans have been relegated to third-party status. You would think that means that CA is a progressive utopia. However, it is a neoliberal hellscape.
- Newsom approved over 30 fracking permits, he loosened pandemic guidelines leading to an increase in coronavirus cases, and he just attended a birthday party when that was ill-advised.
- In the Assembly, Anthony Rendon blocked a bill to give Californians universal health care and Miguel Santiago tried to block comprehensive net neutrality legislation.
- Nancy Pelosi keeps getting re-elected in large part because of gentrification.
- And just this year, voters in this state-approved Prop. 22, which will allow companies like Uber and Lyft to exploit gig workers.
How can we make any meaningful change within this framework?
What Role Does the Democratic Party Play in Our Current System?
In his comment, CalicoJack said that he believed that it was important that the United States be led from the center. The problem I have with that is twofold. First, centrism should not be an ideology within itself. It is best when moderation arises after two equally valid sides’ views are considered, weighed, and people from both sides settle on the best available compromise candidate. Secondly, the Democratic Party is not a true opposition party to the Republican Party.
Ideally, the Democratic Party would act as a true opposition party in a two-party system. The Democrats should truly represent workers as the answer to Republican’s corporatism and be anti-war as the answer to the Republicans’ imperialism. As it stands now, the Democrats paint themselves as a centrist party in a system that needs true opposition parties. However, in the United States, both sides are not equally represented.
The two major parties, the Democratic and Republican Parties, are center-right and far-right, respectively. At the same time, the Democratic establishment loves to co-opt the movements of lefty activists while vilifying them. In fact, both parties love to vilify the left. That’s untenable.
It would make sense if the Democratic Party was center-left and the Republican Party was center-right and there were parties on the fringes that pulled each in their respective directions. Unfortunately, that’s not reality.
As it stands, the United States’ Overton window is hopelessly skewed to the right. To make matters worse, people are trying to find “the middle ground” between sane ideas and fascism. Not all ideas or ideologies are equal, and we should give little daylight to ideologies that are genocidal and ecocidal like fascism is.
It’s crazy because many of the ideas that “the left” espouses, like Medicare for All and free college, are mainstream ideas in much of the developed world. Also, ideas like “Defund[ing] the Police” and affordable public housing are moderate ideas. Sanders himself is truly moderate. As I said in my previous post, Sanders was the compromise.
Why Did Bernie Sanders Run in a Party Where He and His Supporters Are Unwelcome?
Democrats should have allowed more debates in 2016 and allowed voters to decide who they wanted to go against the eventual Republican nominee. With more exposure, more voters likely would have gravitated toward Bernie Sanders, who would have been in a better position to oppose someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump because Sanders disagreed with them in key areas, like domestic spending.
Yet that’s not what happened because the Democratic establishment, which includes a network of wealthy donors, only wanted someone who would fight for their interests. This is a class war, and the ones fighting it hate working-class people and anyone who is not wealthy. As such, the party bosses do not welcome anyone like Bernie Sanders or his supporters into the party. If you are not already rich or powerful, good luck holding any power in this party.
Given this animus that the Democratic establishment holds against most of us and the fealty of trying to take over this damned party, what was the point of Sanders running in it besides the reasons I listed above? In the end, he deceived many voters and helped to destroy his own movement. He does care about people, but not enough to allow them space to build the movement needed to actually effect change.
What Is the Fundamental Flaw in the American Political System?
It is hard to narrow down the greatest flaw in the American political system because there are many in play at the same time. And many of these flaws are outlined in or neglected by the Constitution.
- We operate on an honor system when most politicians lack honor.
- We have a First-Past-the-Post system instead of a parliamentary system and/or runoff. Even though some of the Founding Fathers hated the idea of political parties, the U.S. ultimately resorted to having political parties because of the FPTP system.
- The Electoral College can overturn the will of the people. As a result, the president is essentially chosen by landmasses instead of individuals.
- We have a byzantine elections system, and our elections are insecure.
That said, perhaps the greatest problem of the U.S. government is the fact that it was built on white supremacy and genocide. Also, while the U.S. is called a mixed economy, it skews heavily in favor of capitalism, which could not be possible without racism and needless suffering. The Democratic Party will not resolve to end capitalism, nor will it lift a finger to end racism and genocide. In fact, both parties are littered with imperialists.
Do We Need Reform or Revolution?
The greatest problem with Bernie Sanders may be the fact that he was a reformer and not a revolutionary, even though he spoke of revolution during many of his 2016 campaign rallies. In the end, he may have been a little to the left of FDR, who, at his core, was a capitalist.
At this point, nothing short of a revolution will save this country or save humanity from planetary destruction. Incremental change is a cruel joke at this point because it is insufficient — and in many cases, it’s a lie that politicians tell us as they overturn much of the progress we did make as a society and as a species. We need to make drastic changes to even make avoid some of the worst effects of climate change and the degradation of soil and clean water.
A revolution means overturning unjust systems, not just making small tweaks to them. That means overturning capitalism, getting rid of agencies like ICE, and even closing some police departments because all officers there are corrupt.
And I personally do not care to hear that certain people, namely right-wingers and racists, can use these ideas to paint others as crazy. Part of the fight is changing the paradigm, driving the narrative, and winning public opinion by presenting a unified and strong front. If the status quo is not working, we should point that out and challenge anyone defending it. Chances are those with newer ideas are better at articulating and defending their side. Why should we back down out of fear of the heckler’s veto? That’s partly why we got stuck with Biden.
To that end, it’s way past time to look at the U.S. Constitution. If new ideas are going to be challenged, why shouldn’t old ideas be challenged, too?
Bonus: Do We Need a New Constitution?
In a word, yes. I know how hard it will be to get one, but the truth is that we need a new constitution. We need a new constitution, period.
Why I Think We Need a New Constitution
We need a new Constitution because:
- The old Constitution listed each Black person as three-fifths of a person. Even though the Thirteenth Amendment ended chattel slavery, it replaced it with a new form of slavery in prison labor and most prisoners lose their voting rights.
- Voting rights are not recognized in the old Constitution. The first national election was one in which only rich landowning white males could vote. At the very least, voting rights should have been recognized as part of the First Amendment.
- The old one was written by rich, white landowners. A new constitution must do away with the oligarchy and establish acceptable levels of income disparities. Perhaps we should institute a maximum income.
- Health care is not listed as a human right in the old Constitution. Granted, health care was not as big of an issue then as it is now, but if Americans have the right to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” quality of life ticks all three boxes.
- The right to education is not listed as an unalienable right. This also fits all criteria of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and an informed public is in a better position to vote in better leaders.
- We should at least clarify the right to own guns. I’m not exactly anti-gun despite not owning guns myself. We need to take this issue away from politicians by developing clear, sensible gun standards for civilians, the military, and law enforcement.
Why Amendments Are Insufficient
You might think that the solution is to clarify these things with amendments, but amendments only serve to legitimize the original constitution and it produces clutter. Why not just start over, like over nation-states have done?
Ultimately, under a new Constitution, we should reorganize our system of government. Three branches may not be enough. Also, the president has too many powers and this position probably should not exist. Additionally, we may need to rethink Congress. Should we have a Senate? Should Congress have the power of the purse, and/or should members of Congress be able to increase their own salaries despite lowering salaries for other government positions and keeping the federal minimum wage as low as it is?
Also, under a new constitution, we can figure out how to hold politicians and all public officials accountable. If we put in an Emoluments Clause, it should be enforceable. There should be no loopholes for politicians who break the law, and agencies like the FBI must be transparent lest they cease to exist. Sure, some agencies must have a level of secrecy to conduct current investigations. Beyond that, we must know what they did and if they were justified in their actions. If not, offending agents will lose their jobs and be prosecuted.
You can see why I had to make this response to CalicoJack its own post. Since his comment was so substantive, I had a lot of thoughts about it, but I needed to take time to gather these thoughts and defend my point of view.
In short, I am angry at both political parties, but I have a special ire for the Democratic Party because it does not fulfill the role that it wants people to believe it does. I am also angry at Bernie Sanders because he did not fight hard enough to make his movement viable and he even did a lot to destroy his own movement.
To fight against the Republican Party and the oligarchy, we need to have a real people’s party because the Democrats are clearly not up to the task. Therefore, we need to stop wasting our time trying to take out a calcified party where we, our preferred candidates, and our ideas are not welcome. That is why I could not bring myself to vote for either Trump or Biden and why I don’t regret my choice. My vote must be earned, and if no one wants to earn it, they will not get it.
We need to get used to holding the powerful accountable and giving them hell when they don’t do their job. The alternative is extinction, and by then, none of this matters.
- I have repeatedly fought against this anti-Ralph Nader narrative because 1 million Florida Democrats voted for Bush according to the official count, which more than eclipses the 100,000 votes for Nader in the state. Also, Florida was stolen from Gore by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State, Kathryn Harris, among others.
- When people talk about “splitting the vote” on the left, they are ultimately saying that Democrats are entitled to votes. No party or individual is entitled to votes because votes must be earned. I don’t care for anyone or any political party that offers me nothing. Voting is transactional, and if a politician refuses to institute policies that will help most people improve their material conditions and quality of life, that politician needs to stop wasting my time. I’m not voting for them because they don’t deserve my vote.
- Again, Gore didn’t really lose in 2000. He was cheated. Kerry was cheated in much the same way in 2004, but that involved Ohio. Still, Gore had run a better campaign in 2000 or the Democrats had run Howard Dean in 2004, they would have blown the Republicans out of the water by clearly distinguishing themselves.
3 thoughts on “Can We Work Within the Democratic Party? (My Response to CalicoJack)”
You mischaracterized my position. I did not advocate for leading from the center. I said that democracies are inherently centerist because the act of voting essentially averages all of our opinions. Averages tend to regress to the mean. As long as we have a democracy, we’ll have a centerist government. Given the British roots of our white culture, and as long as the GOP can maintain the dominance of white people, American politics will be right of center.
Democrats and progressives tend to play to rational politics. The modern GOP has specialized in emotional social issues politics. It is the heavy-handed emotionalism of threat-based fear mongering that keeps rural conservative Christian white voters returning GOP politicians to office while enacting policies and laws that will ensure they live in Cancer Alley and die painful deaths at young ages.
I will repeat the criticism of voting third-party in the time of Trump. Trump is nakeldy authoritarian making a nakedly authoritarian grab. If he succeeds, we will not have anything remotely resembling a democracy. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP are only slightly more veiled authoritarians. Should they succeed in winning Georgia’s Senate seats, they will continue eroding the democratic ideals that have stopped Trump from stealing the election.
If you want to have a chance at transforming the country, we need to stop Trump and the GOP. After that, sort out the Democrats. If we don’t, there won’t be a democracy left to sort out.
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My bad. I may have confused this position with things I have heard before. Some people do believe that countries should be led from the center. Still, I will reiterate that I disagree with that position because centrism isn’t really an ideology.
I will say this, though: When I talk about the center, I am speaking from an absolutist stance. I believe that there is a true center, based on all available views across the political spectrum.
As for democracies averaging opinions, I have kind of seen that type of principle at work in one: Sweden. Now, I don’t know much about Swedish politics, but the country has multiple political parties, and their elections tend to favor a certain-left party, the Social Democrats. A social democrat is a centrist, but I would consider it center-left. I wouldn’t have much of a problem if the United States government was like that since social democracies have strong socialist aspects to them. However, we must not that Scandinavian countries also have strong workforces, and that is important to have a social-democratic government.
I have somewhat of a different take on political dynamics in the United States. Have you by chance seen a graphic showing the ratchet effect? The term itself can apply to many things, but the specific image I am referring to addresses the Democratic and Republican Parties in the U.S. The dynamic is like this: Republicans pull the discussion to the left while “centrists” in the Democratic Party prevent the discussion from going back to the left. The leaders (and donors) of both parties are working together against the people, and that is why the United States is center-right — at best.
While, yes, race is definitely a factor in our system and politics, both parties and oligarchs use race cynically to divide people. There are many white folks and Black folks who have more in common with each other than they do with politicians and rich folks, but we often don’t take time to see that because most people have bought into racial distinctions. And it’s hard to fight against racism because many people, especially those on the right, believe in hierarchical structures.
Part of bringing the discussion back to the left or at least to the true center is to challenge all of our conventions. That means reassessing our system of government, challenging racism, and challenging authority. Yes, it will make everyone uncomfortable. Who said that it shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable? Still, that discomfort is worth fighting for real progress.
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Hey Shmaltz: I haven’t read your blog for awhile and found some interest in your tussle with Jack on political parties. I take the position that only through compromise can we achieve a workable coalition to govern in this country. The reality show of daily blame and shame that we have experienced in the last four years should never happen again. Stay well. USFMAN