As you will quickly see if you read my other posts, I am not a fan of the modern (further and further right) Democratic Party. They do a good job of pretending to be less crazy than the Republicans, but since they continue to pursue the same policies as Republicans on most fronts (the sole exception seems to be Gay Marriage, where some Democrats aren’t in agreement with the Republicans) this is pointless.
At the present moment, I refuse to vote for another Democratic candidate. I used to do so; in fact right at this moment I am registered as a Democrat. But there have been too many disappointments; until the party not only fixes its problems but has a consistent track record of doing the right thing they aren’t worth supporting. If I’m not going to get what I want, I might as well vote my conscience, which means Independents and Greens. The Democrats are unwilling to work towards any political goal which I consider important, and if there’s no quo, there can’t be a quid pro in the form of a vote.
But it seems churlish to say that without offering any advice, so here we go. Things the Democrats (and their increasingly pea-brained apologists) need to do to get me — and, hopefully, others like me — to trust them again.
- Stop defending Obama. The guy isn’t on your side. As mentioned in a former post, he was actively working to undermine Democratic policy all along. It would not be surprising in the least that some of his other “poor performance” was actually intentional on his part as well. He tried to keep us in Iraq, failed, and the lied about it, claiming he had negotiated a pullout, he was instrumental in keeping the Public Option out the Affordable Care Act, he keeps up with the drone bombing even though even the CIA admits that it causes more terrorism than it potentially stops, he defends the NSA spying program which breaks the fourth amendment and outrages all our allies… in practically every respect, he’s a right-winger. Yes, I know — first black president, very exciting, you got carried away by enthusiasm and proclaimed him the greatest thing since sliced bread. Accept that you were wrong. The guy is a traitor to your party and you would have been better off… no, cancel that, the other major contender was just as bad. Still, you should stop pretending Obama is decent. He isn’t. Start working on doing better next time.
- Drop Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, in terms of policy, is just Obama melted down and poured into the “Caucasian Woman #6″ mold. All those nasty policy positions which Obama has held — some of which I cataloged above, but which are more numerous than that by far — are Hillary’s as well. She has spent the last several years going around the world giving speeches on behalf of Obama to other countries which more or less form a catalog of hypocrisy; the broad theme could be called “do as we say, not as we do”. I know you get pleasure out of the fact that the right wing hates her. But we really need to choose candidates based on good policy, not spite.
- Stop pretending the right wing matters. Every time Obama pushes things further to the right, the Democratic Party and its apologists excuse this by saying “he had to do this to placate the Republicans”. Guess what: if that’s your justification, it hasn’t worked one bit and you should stop. None of the rightward movement has made the Republicans more reasonable or helped accomplish any goals; on the contrary, giving in to the Republicans (again, and again, and again) has simply fed their insanity. If they’re going to claim you’re a Communist Socialist Muslim Gay Terrorist Drug Abuser even if you do what they want, then there is no publicity benefit in doing what they want. Stop caving in, all of you, and grow a spine.
- Prosecute the bankers. The national-level Democratic consensus is that the big banks are “too big to fail” so nothing can be done to prosecute them for their role in crashing the economy. That’s false — either an outright lie or merely blind acceptance of what the (guilty) bankers claim — but fine, let’s not have that argument. There is no reason whatsoever why the individuals who brought about the mortgage frauds and derivatives trading which crashed the market can’t be prosecuted individually and sent to prison for a long, long time. It would, in fact, be wildly popular, and might help stop the bubble from reinflating (which apparently it is doing — according to an interview with Thomas Hartmann, the derivatives market has pushed back up to $700 trillion — out of the $800 trillion it was “worth” at the time of the crash).
- Stop defending the military and “security” agencies. You don’t like “austerity”, you say? You hate the fact that social programs are being cut? But you have a problem arguing in favor of expanding the deficit? Then it’s time to aggressively push for cuts in military and “security” spending. In 2012, more than 60% of the federal discretionary budget went to that part of the government. It’s not keeping us safe — the NSA has been unable to demonstrate even a single case in which their spying via overreaching programs like PRISM has actually captured a terrorist (they claimed to have a bunch, but it turned out they made those figures up — meanwhile, they didn’t catch the Boston marathon bomber, haven’t stopped any shootings, etc. etc. etc.); drone bombing is creating more terrorism; Afghanistan is a war without a game plan (what would it even look like for us to “win”?); everything we’re pouring money into is pointless and stupid. Time to fight for some cuts — if we had cut military spending in 2012 by 25%, we could have raised spending on everything else by 25% and still have decreased the deficit. Democrats need to push for this. (It’s probably too much to ask for them to ask for the abolishment of the NSA, even though that would actually be good policy on all kinds of levels; the agency has no effective oversight, undermines our foreign policy, breaks the Bill of Rights, and is staffed by scumbags. If the Democrats were ethical, their funding would be gone.)
- Stop claiming people have “no choice” but to vote for Democrats, or that voting for third parties/independents is the same as voting for Republicans. Polls suggest, time after time, that Americans are further left than the Democratic party consensus. But the Democrats push further and further to the right seeking votes — a strategy which has not worked very well. If the strategy was working, Democrats would be winning by landslides; instead, races are frequently neck-and-neck against obvious losers (like Romney). I suggest to you that the reason is that, as the Democrats move rightward, voters realize that both parties are increasingly disappointments, and stop voting. (Something is doing it — in 2012, a year with a presidential election, which traditionally means higher turnout, over 40% of registered voters didn’t bother to vote.) If you want voters to turn out for you, you have to actually show that you do things they want, and the voters want you to move to the left. (In fact, that’s another reason to get rid of Hillary Clinton — she’s one of the group which decided, consciously, to push the Democratic Party to the right. Any time I hear a Democrat mention the term “Overton window” to explain the rightward motion of US politis, then I know I can ignore them, because they simply do not know history.)
- Your stances should be ethical, not tribal. If something bothered you when Bush did it, it should bother you when Obama does it. (And, more generally, if you are upset when a Republican does something, you should be upset when a Democrat does the same thing.) Bush got lambasted for “Total Information Awareness” — but Democrats are defending Obama for his stance on the NSA. Bush’s war with Iraq (even with Congressional approval) made Democrats angry, but attacking Libya after Congress voted against it doesn’t raise an eyebrow because Obama is the one doing it. Etc. ad infinitum. All this stuff just makes you look corrupt. Be at least somewhat consistent on your positions, please — otherwise, that “not voting” thing starts to look downright reasonable. You’re only worth supporting if there’s a difference between you and the other side.
- In fact, purge the DLC. Remember how I mentioned above that the Clintons were part of the group who decided the Democrats should push right? That’s a crucial part to how the right became so out-of-control, not to say deranged. There was suddenly no serious resistance to them. If you want people to take your party seriously, get rid of all the idiots who thought that was a good idea — go look up the membership of the “Democratic Leadership Committee” and kick ‘em all out of decision-making positions, because that’s whodunit.
- Elizabeth Warren should be your new rightmost limit. I am not willing to vote for Hillary Clinton, because she’s the same package of right-wing failure in a new shape. I would be sorely tempted to vote for Elizabeth Warren, if the Democrats actually decided not to hand Clinton the nomination, because she actually seems to be willing to take a few actions against the status quo (although frankly the performance of Obama has made me so skeptical of the Democratic Party’s ethics these days that it would still be a stretch). From now on, stop accepting compromise candidates in the mold of, well, pretty nearly all the other national-level Democrats. Look at Warren’s performance and say “who can top this?” and run those people instead. (And stop letting the right wing media tell you those people will never win. Warren was already noxious to the banks and to the Republicans before she ran, and she won.)
I’m sure I’ll come up with more later, but this list is a minimum set of requirements. I realize, of course, that since Democrats have turned into tribalists, I will be ignored (and possibly vilified) for this. Who cares? Frankly, if you’re still defending Obama or hoping for Clinton next at this point, you aren’t even worth my contempt any more.