If there’s one thing that should have been learned by the Democratic Party over the last thirty or so years, it’s that running against the base is a recipe for failure in elections. This lesson, however, has been repeatedly ignored by most of the party’s politicians. When one goes over the electoral cycles since 1980, it’s clear that the DLC’s “run-to-the-right” ploy has never actually won an election.
“But,” you tell me, “Bill Clinton won in 1992 and 1996.” This ignores the fact that independent candidate H. Ross Perot pulled enough votes away from the Republican nominees those years to swing the elections in the Democrat’s favor.
After Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, the party was unable to win it back until public disgust with the GOP had grown to such proportions that their defeat in 2006 was inevitable. Since winning back the Legislature, however, Democrats have for the most part continued to piss away any chance they might have had for shoring up their victory and securing a lasting majority. They’ve kept funding the illegal occupation of Iraq, have continued to rubber stamp the shrub’s dismantling of the Constitution–even going so far as to protect him from impeachment for high crimes including treason, and basically let down the public on every issue of importance.
Barack Obama isn’t even trying to win vital states such as Ohio; in the heart of the state’s Democratic stronghold, the campaign hasn’t even bothered to set up telephones for phone-banking–volunteers have to use their own devices to call voters. Furthermore, instead of going after frequently voting Democrats, Obama has his people reaching out to Republicans, most of whom have stated flat out that they have no intention of voting for him. I know this through several Democratic volunteers who’ve put their efforts into Obama’s campaign. They are the eyewitnesses on the ground.
There’s a reason Ohio’s GOP voters did not deign to put J. Kenneth Blackwell in the governor’s mansion: he’s technically black. It didn’t matter to them that he supported every bug-eyed insane policy and social position they did; his skin color was darker than theirs, so he could not be allowed to become governor. That Obama insists on trying to reach the still-strong bigot bloc, forsaking his own party’s base in the process, is absolute stupidity. He’s going to blow it for us again, just as John Kerry and Al Gore did before him. McCain will cheat his way to the dictatorship created by the shrub and his gargoyle, all because Obama wants to “play it safe” by running to appease the very wealthy.
How long shall Progressives continue to hold on to the fantasy that we can somehow reform the party from within? Yesterday I happened upon a diary at you-know-where that states flat out what I’m sure a majority of Americans are thinking: that it is foolishness to continue remaining a registered Democrat as long as the party’s conservative wing controls it. And make no mistake, Obama is very much part of that conservative wing despite whatever denials his followers choose to engage in.
Sooner or later the Progressive base of the Democratic Party has got to wake up and realize that it is pointless to remain with people who always denounce, marginalize, and campaign against its interests. One might say that now is not the time to dump the Democratic Party, that there is too much at stake. To that I say that it’s never going to be the “right time,” because there’s always going to be “too much at stake.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said:
The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer.
This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
I agree with the Kos diarist: it’s time for the Progressive base of the Democratic Party to face the unpleasant truth that we cannot and should not continue to waste our energies trying to reform from within a political party that long ago decided it wants to be something that runs contrary to everything we stand for. The stakes are indeed high, but we have to ask ourselves if it’s worth another four to eight years of frustration as we watch our beloved country and our world fall further in the hellish pits of fascism and ruin. If Democrats as a whole will not represent Progressives, then we need to break away and form our own party so that our movement has genuine representation. If nothing else, it will send Democrats a wakeup call: they cannot continue to dismiss and ignore their party’s base with impunity.