Sunday, November 13, 2016

Only Bernie Sanders Can Save the Democratic Party Now

That's the headline for a prominently placed article at the New York Observer, the weekly paper owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, the real estate investor husband of Ivanka Trump.

The article is by freelance writer Michael Sainato, whose credits include the liberal Huffington Post. Sanders, Sainato writes, is widely trusted, free of scandal, currently the most popular politician in the country and carries none of the baggage the Democratic Party establishment caries because of its ties to wealthy donors and its disastrous error of forcing Hillary Clinton's nomination on the party, which, I might add, New Mexico Democrats participated in fully: many top elected officials here endorsed Clinton before the primaries even began and before they knew who else would be running. Hillary's going to be your nominee, they were saying, because we say so. To hell with democracy. It's also come to light that many of those early endorsements were bought by Clinton in exchange for money, campaign money, which with her Wall Street ties she was flush with.

Sanaito closes with: "The only hope Democrats have now in recouping the losses of these voters is Sanders leading a truly progressive movement. Whether that is done within the Democratic Party or a new third party remains to be seen, and depends on whether those leaders responsible for Hillary Clinton actually learn from their mistakes."

I make note of this article because it appears in the Observer, one of the first papers to endorse Trump, and with Kushner being in the Trump family and having played a central role in Trump's campaign, although according to his Wikipedia article Kushner donated exclusively to Democrats in the past. But Trump donated to Democrats, too. Maybe that's what it takes to do business in New York City, which is also known as being a place where, even today, you have to pay off the mob in some way to do business.

I also note this article because it's the first place I've seen Sanders held forth in this way, as savior of the party. He only joined it recently in order to run in the primary and stands for everything most Democrats nowadays do not, being, as Sainato rightly says, "the candidate of the people" whereas Clinton was "the candidate of the Democratic Party’s wealthy donors."

But can the Democratic Party be reformed? I've gone back and forth on this question. It went from being a liberal party to being a party that's fiscally conservative and only liberal on gay marriage and abortion, is how I always put it, and that's pretty close to the conventional wisdom on the Left, which usually sees the solution being in third parties, or in somehow changing our system of voting to proportional representation or something like a parliamentary system, both of which result in more ideological diversity than the two party "winner take all" system the US has.

But you can argue, as I have, that since the party changed to what it is, it can be changed to something else, or changed back.

But what was it, really? Was it really a liberal party? When I was growing up it was actually a coalition of liberals from the East and Midwest and conservative Southerners, a coalition based on the grand bargain that the Southerners would go along with things like the New Deal if the liberals went along with Jim Crow segregation.

When that bargain was called off is when the party began its long slow decent that has led it to the state of affairs of today, where Democrats can't win either house of the federal government, have lost most state legislatures and governorships and more or less trade the presidency with an increasingly conservative Republican Party.

What about Hispanics who will soon be the majority ethnic grouping, and who disproportionately vote Democratic? The conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party establishment is that when that happens the party will be sitting pretty.

But Hispanics are by no means homogeneous, as far as I can see. They range from liberals in big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles to conservatives in places like New Mexico and Florida, and as they become the majority, and presumably more affluent, they will presumably become more conservative overall. They have no obligation to the Democratic Party and will decide their own political futures.

The solution lies in movement building, movements that are based on economic class interests. Our political system, as are most poitical systems, is set up to protect the establishment and to prevent radical change. When it does change it's largely because it's been forced to change by movements outside "official" channels-- the Labor Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Environmental Movement, Gay Rights Movement, Women's Movement.

Those people who are in the streets now protesting Donald Trump's election have the capacity and potential to do more to thwart the radical agenda Trump campaigned on than the Democratic Party will ever have. It must be noted, too, however, that we have to come up with another way besides Capitalism of organizing our economy or else we'll always end up in the same conundrum that has led to the rise of Trump, and here's why.

So grab a placard. Attend a meeting. Agitate. Organize. Talk to your neighbors. And don't lose hope. It's in us to rise up, to rebel. There have always been revolutions and always will be. It's in our nature. Even us Americans. We were born in revolution.


  1. The Democratic Party will either change for the better or die.

  2. "The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed,
    But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
    Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
    Besides what the grim Woolf with privy paw
    Daily devours apace, and nothing sed,
    But that two-handed engine at the door,
    Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more."
    John Milton, "Lycidas" (1638)

  3. Karl Marx must be smiling somewhere. That is if Trumps ascendance fosters The Revolution. Still, I wonder what the man, and my hero, H.H.H. who began the break with the Southern racists for the Democrats, would say now about it all. I'd listen very carefully....:)