Thursday, December 6, 2012

'How To Save The Democratic Party' — Pseudonymous 'L. R. Runner' At The Nation

I am always reluctant to cede an author the privilege of anonymity or pseudonymity (and it is a privilege, not a right, for someone who wishes to be taken seriously). But I believe this powerful article by "L. R. Runner" at The Nation, 'How To Save The Democratic Party' makes the grade.

First, Runner convincingly argues that the Democratic Party, or something like it in historical political context, needs to be saved, i.e., that it is in danger of becoming irrelevant to people who need political action stemming not from its outreach to wealthy donors but from its populist roots. I consider this absolutely essential to anything viable that credibly calls itself "the Democratic Party" going forward. Remember the late great Paul Wellstone and call it "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" if you insist. But don't doubt that we need to wreak a shift in direction. Why? Given two words, I'd say "Rahm Emanuel," or maybe even "Barack Obama." Given more words, I'd point out that from the Reagan years forward, including unequivocally the Bill Clinton years, the Democratic Party has become a parody of its former self: all the forms are there, but the substance is sadly lacking. It needs to be reconstructed more or less from scratch... without losing the framework. Here's Runner:
The problem is not President Obama or any other individual leader but the Democratic Party itself. Much of its establishment, from Washington to most of the state capitals, has long since become a party of “bipartisan compromise” with an increasingly right-wing Republicanism, particularly on economic issues with great social consequences—as though America’s true course now lies midway between abolishing the achievements of the New Deal and Great Society and extending them fully in our times.
Precisely. The Democratic Party, now that it is back in power (to a degree), needs to remind itself of its mission (helping ordinary Americans), its means (progressive or even liberal social and economic policies), and its pursuit of these goals unapologetically on behalf of people who deeply believe in them (people like me, for example).

So... what's the problem? Runner again:
If more proof is needed, the Democratic Party has shown itself to be incapable of providing the moral imperatives, policy ideas, broad popular support or elected officials necessary to lead the nation out of its worst economic and social calamity in eighty years, now in its fifth year of millions of wrecked lives. Indeed, the party’s complicity in the crisis is only somewhat less than that of Republicans unconditionally devoted to only one human right: the unrestrained accumulation of corporate and private wealth.
Look at the wide support the public has afforded the Occupy movement, starting with Occupy Wall Street and continuing through Occupy Sandy. Why is it so broadly popular? Well, it isn't that it has a secure base of wealthy donors, that's for sure! The Democratic Party today, inextricably tied in to persons and institutions of great wealth, is hardly in a position to represent its traditional, natural base: the 99%, the lower and middle classes. And goodness knows that's who needs representing now. The Democratic Party, its partisan political nature (and Occupy's nonpartisan nature) aside, has a lesson to learn here. Will they learn it?

I haven't time (or strength) tonight to walk you through Runner's article tonight, but I strongly urge you to read it. If you are a Democratic (or formerly Democratic) lefty, you will find yourself nodding in agreement time and time again, and I believe you'll find your time well-spent. Give it a try!


  1. Replies
    1. karmanot,this article is not only about how to save the Democratic Party, but... vastly more important... why anyone would want to do so. I can be persuaded!



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