Note to Democratic Party: Drop Dead

by Jeff Siegel

Last week, a woman whose opinion I respect told me that the only reason I don't like Senator Hillary Clinton is because she is a strong woman. Periodically, the Democratic Party's house organs (the Daily Kos and The American Prospect, among others) remind me that it's my duty and my obligation to support the party's nominee.

And then, The New York Times – my beloved New York Times, perhaps the last newspaper in the U.S. that hasn't been co-opted by the White House – ran a story that made my heart sink. "Liberal Base Proves Trying to Democrats," said the headline, which was bad enough. How could The Times – my beloved New York Timesregurgitate the current Beltway claptrap that says that what the world needs is a more moderate Democratic party? What was worse, though, was this, from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) – who really, really should know better: "This is a moment of truth for responsible liberals in the Democratic Party."

So I guess I'm not a member of the Democratic Party. I used to be, but that was a long time ago – before the vile machinations of the Democratic Leadership Council turned the party of the Civil Rights movement into Republican Lite; when candidates actually worried about issues and not about how much money they raised; and when party leaders said things because they meant them, and not because their pollster told them that's what they should say.

I also deeply resent being told that I'm not a responsible liberal. I believe in compromise and conciliation and in meeting the other guy halfway. I know how the system works, and I know that sometimes you have to do things for the greater good that aren't especially palatable.

But how much more moderate do we have to be? I voted for Bill Clinton twice, for God's sake. I have seen the Democratic Party cave in on the war, on health care, on homeland security, on the farm bill, and on just about anything else it could cave in on. The Democratic majority in Congress has agreed to some of the most draconian limits on our First Amendment rights since the Civil War. I get searched every time I travel out of the country, and as near as I can tell, it's for no other reason than I have a beard.

And why have the Democrats caved in? Some of it, certainly is because their pollsters read some chicken entrails and told them that's what was needed. Some of it is because they have been corrupted by the vast amounts of campaign cash they now take in for being so moderate. But, ultimately and most sadly, they are more scared of Rush Limbaugh and FOX News than they are of standing up for what's right.

So nuts to you, Democratic Party. If your nominee doesn't support ending the war, doesn't support health care reform that helps working people pay for insurance, and doesn't support repealing the new internal security laws, then I'm not voting for you. You may be worried about the various MoveOn.org types defecting, but I have news for you. In the end, they'll hold their noses and vote for Mrs. Clinton, if only because they hate the GOP so much. But I won't. And I'm not the only one that you should be worried about. There may well be millions more like me, who are fed up with being taken for granted so you can woo suburban soccer moms who wouldn't know social justice unless there was a show about it on HGTV.

That's because we finally figured out your secret – the only difference between you and the other guys? There isn't one.

(Photo of war protestors in San Francisco from roger jones via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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mkenney said...

This is really great, and I completely agree with your sentiment. I think a third party could mean a clearer articulation and adherence to a party platform (so you know what you're signing onto), but it's completely politically inviable. I'm just getting so tired of Democrats that, on a good day, can only be seen as the lesser of two evils.

Jeff Siegel said...

Thanks for the kind words. The latest insult to our intelligence -- that Mrs. Clinton would "spare no option in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons" goes to show that she believes in nothing save saying whatever it takes to get elected.

I wuill have more on Mrs. Clinton next week.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Hi Jeff

Welcome to the club! I've been writing a bit about having rejected the two major parties in my blog and am happy to see more and more people coming around and realizing the shell game our two-party democracy has turned out to be. The big question -- what to do about it? If we are truly serious about revitalizing democracy and making the voter relevant once again what can be done? Who is doing such work currently?

Blair said...

All we need is a third party to (again) take votes from the Democrats. Yeah right. People like you voted for Nader and that's how we got George Bush. Please tell me again how Bush and Gore are the same. There's serious differences between the two parties -- like on every issue. I'm not going to be fooled by you Nader types again.

Jeff Siegel said...

Actually, I didn't vote for Nader, either in 2000 or 2004. I held my nose and voted for Kerry, who was even more flawed than Bill Clinton.

And, and I'm surprised that I have to remind anyone of this -- Al Gore won the 2000 election. The Nader myth, which the Democratic establishment uses to intimidate those of us who disagree with them, is just that: a myth. Gore lost West Virginia by 41,000 votes and Tennessee by 80,000; Nader got 10,000 in West Virginia and 20,000 in Tennessee. Those 16 electoral votes would have swung the election to Gore, regardless of what happened in Florida. West Virginia had not voted for a Republican for president since 1928, and Tennessee was Gore's home state.

This is not a question of Bush vs. Gore. This is a question of whether the Democratic Party has any interest in representing the poor, the working class, and everyone else who can't afford a K Street lobbyist. To my mind, it doesn't, and its candidates don't deserve my support.

Rick Rockwell said...

If members of the Democratic base knew how much Congressional staffers and our representatives snicker at the ideals we hold dear, they would be appalled.

Here's an interesting idea: maybe we should bury both parties. They don't seem to be doing this country much good. What we need is a third party that would win, and polls show more Americans are open to this than ever.

Please go look at Jeff’s most recent piece about arrogant Sen. Clinton and all the reasons she is Republican Lite for more examples about why this critique is on target. Also, please look at Laura Snedeker’s post about how the Democrats have mishandled the Mukasey nomination for more reasons.

Why should the Senate accept any nominee who won't talk specifically about torture? This isn't a judicial nomination where the nominee may have legitimate reasons for a vague answer.

Why is it the Democrats are rolling over on wire-tapping too? The Democrats can shut the Bush agenda down but they refuse to do that. They need to move beyond rhetoric.

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