Glenn Greenwald: ‘This is what the Democratic Party does; it’s who they are’

(9 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)

In a post on Salon today, Glenn Greenwald reveals to readers the essential tactic of the Democratic Party leadership.  It’s not trying to get Republican support, it’s not filibuster reform, it’s not registering people to vote.  It’s much more manipulative than that.

It is an explanation for the “lack of spine” that Democrats are often said to have – which, we can now see, is merely a convenient illusion for prominent Democrats.  It is a scapegoat that they can use so that progressives will continue voting for them even though we get nothing that we ask for, and instead have to take whatever crumbs are given to us.

So what is it?

This is what the Democratic Party does; it’s who they are.  They’re willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there’s no chance that they can pass it.  

Read the full piece here.  I encourage you to do so!

Democrats in Washington don’t just pretend to support things.  It’s not as simple as lying.  They actively manipulate their base of supporters in a few ways.

Just look at Greenwald’s inspiration for the piece, Jay Rockefeller.  On October 4th, the headlines read, “Jay Rockefeller on the Public Option: ‘I Will Not Relent.'”  

Jay Rockefeller has waited a long time for this moment. . . . He’s [] a longtime advocate of health care for children and the poor — and, as Congress moves toward its moment of truth on health care, perhaps the most earnest, dogged Senate champion of a nationwide public health insurance plan to compete with private insurance companies.

“I will not relent on that. That’s the only way to go,” Rockefeller told me in an interview. “There’s got to be a safe harbor.”

And now:  “Rockefeller Not Inclined To Support Reconciliation For The Public Plan”

“I don’t think the timing of it is very good,” the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. “I’m probably not going to vote for that”

This is not something to be blamed on one Senator, though.  It is representative of some larger strategic moves by Democrats.

The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation.  They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.

Now, it’s a common tactic on Capitol Hill (not to say it’s a good thing at all) to introduce bills that have no chance of passing in order to gain support with a certain group of people.  If a Congressperson were to introduce the “Gun Freedom Act” that allowed everyone to have whatever gun they wanted whenever they wanted it without any restrictions at all, they would probably become a hero of the NRA and their ilk.  However, the congressperson could probably introduce the bill without it having a chance of passing and having to face the real world and political repercussions of it.

Recently, though, Democrats have been taking this to a whole new level.  I’ll let Greenwald explain.

This is why, although I basically agree with filibuster reform advocates, I am extremely skeptical that it would change much, because Democrats would then just concoct ways to lack 50 votes rather than 60 votes — just like they did here.  Ezra Klein, who is generally quite supportive of the White House perspective, reported last week on something rather amazing:  Democratic Senators found themselves in a bind, because they pretended all year to vigorously support the public option but had the 60-vote excuse for not enacting it.

They won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections by pretending they wanted to compel an end to the Iraq War and Bush surveillance and interrogation abuses because they knew they would not actually do so; and indeed, once they were given the majority, the Democratic-controlled Congress continued to fund the war without conditions, to legalize Bush’s eavesdropping program, and to do nothing to stop Bush’s habeas and interrogation abuses

So be skeptical of politicians, even those who you trust.  And don’t let the Democrats fool you into taking their bait.  After all, they are politicians looking out for themselves.  As Howard Zinn said,

If you’re a citizen, you have to know the difference between them and you-the difference between what they have to do and what you have to do. And there are things they don’t have to do, if you make it clear to them they don’t have to do it.

I almost forgot…H/T to my friend Dave Schwab for showing this to me.


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  1. Glenn’s post today deserves a Koufax.

    The very definition of a must read.

    • dkmich on February 24, 2010 at 12:35

    I thought it was a great diary, and I was so pleased to see an “adult critique” on the void call the Democratic Party that didn’t have the Lord of the Flies dancing all over it on comments.  Silly me.  I woke up this am, and lo and behold, there was the clone anti anti diary on the wreck list and the Lord of the Flies were dancing all over the comments in this diary.  Those people at dailykos are why I hate people.  They remind me of the tea baggers and Bush:  “I’m entitled to an opinion, you are not.”   “I count twice, you don’t matter at all.”  

    On what planet do I live that I expect dailykos idiots to stay on their own side and to mind their own business.  I have never met a nastier, ruder (looks funny) group of people in my life.      

  2. That corporate bashing humor which was all true yet not completely acted upon.  It was funny then but the true nature of predatory globalized tyrannical scientifically controlled dystopia was not fully clear in everybody’s minds.  Hell, it still isn’t.

    So the entire scripted badly written soap opera that is left/right politics is simply a retarded ungreen waste.

    Be honest here the globalists run the world, they own all of the governments, they are going to de-populate down to 500 million even if you don’t like that idea.

    It is a New World Order.

  3. mixed  group of people who reluctantly accept the

    name of an atrophied party in order to compete for control of the legislature and the benefits therein. Very few have genuine political philosophies other than staying in office.

    It’s really about the need to use a pre-existing electoral structure in order to function. The two party system is a perfect description when you think about it. Both parties jockey for position using the voters. Without a highly educated and civic minded body of citizens these are the results that can be expected.

    The absurdly large population in a so called democratic polity, totally ignorant of history and manipulated by a corporate media cannot sustain a democracy. This is particulary true when economic policies, decisions and consequences are totally inscrutable. The processes in a Democracy need to be TOTALLY OPEN at all times. I don’t think we ever had it, and IMHO we may be farther way than ever.

  4. I’m so glad to see this excellent offering from Glenn Greenwald making the rounds today. By the way:

    Greenwald expertly illustrates how the Dems scam their own supporters again and again, but he doesn’t really address why they do it. One might ask, why deflate their own supporters by consistently failing to deliver on campaign promises?

    It comes down to the fundamental contradiction of the Democratic Party: the will of its voters is at odds with the will of its funders. But unlike most voters, the funders are always paying close attention. So the Dems pay lip service to progressive ideas, then invent reasons why they can’t end the wars, regulate the financial sector, pass real healthcare reform, address climate change, or do anything that would anger their corporate sponsors. But fear not, progressives, this is the year that the Democrats strike down “don’t ask, don’t tell”!

    Do they know they’re deflating their base? How could they not? Do they care? A little bit, but not really. A few will lose seats and become highly-paid lobbyists. Then when the Repubs screw everything up, they get their seats back. All the while, the party moves ever to the right. The corporate lobbyists who control both establishment parties will be gratified to see progressives losing hope and staying home.

    The way to stop this vicious cycle is to give those discouraged voters someplace to go. The Green Party is our best alternative – Greens espouse a truly progressive agenda and refuse to accept corporate money. If you’re tired of getting scammed by the Dems, it’s on you to show them that you can take your energy to a party that supports you when you support it.

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