In 2005, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close friend and fellow activist, Harry Belafonte, offered the following prescient words: “We must look through the ravages of the Democratic party to see if there is anything worth salvaging.” As 2017 dawns, it seems to me that Mr. Belafonte’s advice is more poignant and timely than ever. In the wake of the recent string of calamities befalling the Democratic Party (virtually all of them self-inflicted), the American left is debating whether or not to stay with the former party of FDR.
Two options, too often presented as mutually exclusive, are being considered:
Option A: Grassroots progressives, our organizations still brimming with energy from the Bernie Sanders movement, should #DemEnter the party across the country, and take it over from within, returning the Democrats to progressive/liberal values, starting at the community/local level (Bernie Sanders’ preferred course); and
Option B: Progressives and liberals should decisively and conspicuously remove ourselves from the corporatized Democratic Party, continuing the #DemExit that began when the party’s leadership and dark money donors decided to rig the 2016 Democratic Primary for a deeply flawed candidate who didn’t remotely represent the party’s traditional base or values.
Personally, I’ve been disappointed and more than a little worried by the acrimonious discourse suggesting that we’re in an “either/or” situation. Because #DemEnter vs. #DemExit doesn’t have to be a zero-sum proposition — and shouldn’t be.
While I feel that the current leadership of the Democratic Party is entirely hopeless (composed of bona fide authoritarians with neo-fascist priorities and values), I strongly approve of the efforts underway to elect as many “Bernie progressives” as possible into positions in the Democratic Party — at all levels — to see what influence can be made “working from the inside.”
My guess is that we’ll find some sympathetic fellow travelers. After all, not all Democratic Party insiders, at all levels, favor slavery-permitting/regulation-nullifying “trade” pacts, Wall Street-appointed presidential cabinets, or the neocons’ endless regime-change wars, fought by Salafist, neo-Nazi, and mercenary proxies. Not all Democratic Party insiders, at all levels, condone what the party has become. (How could they?) So let’s see how many of them we can inspire with a progressive agenda not authored by plutocrats and lobbyists for the MIC, mass-incarcerators, the fossil-fuel industry, PhRMA, and the usual corporate suspects.
That said, if we fail to invest in Plan B, making the threat of #DemExit real, then we won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of altering anything in the neoliberal party of Wall Street, war, and neo-McCarthyism. In short, we have no choice but to continue working on the third party exodus strategy — or we’ll be right back to the LOTE/abused-spouse syndrome, voting (out of fear) for an ambiguously “lesser” evil that only assures more rightward drift and outright corruption, while the planet burns.
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FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE’VE GOT TO STOP “LIBERALS” FROM ACTING LIKE BUSH-PARTISANS IN THE RUN-UP TO THE IRAQ WAR.
As we #DemEnter and work to see if the party can be saved, let’s also endeavor to bring establishment-friendly Democrats back to sanity, with regard to the warmongering hysteria centered on allegations of “Russian hacking” of the U.S. presidential election. Glenn Greenwald was excellent on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” program, last week, talking about the lack of substance behind these allegations — and the fact that his propaganda-debunking journalism has provoked more savage attacks from the establishment than at any time previous in his career (translation: not even the pro-Iraq War goons were as hostile to journalism as the folks pushing the anti-Russia narrative today… actually, they’re pretty much the same people — literally, the SAME people who lied to us the last time — only they’re more brazen today and aligned with the Democratic Party rather than the incoming Republican administration).
Here’s the Pulitzer-winning Mr. Greenwald, brilliantly illuminating, as always (where would the world be without journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman?):https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/5/glenn_greenwald_on_dearth_of_evidence
And here’s David Swanson’s superb overview: http://davidswanson.org/print/5403
Frighteningly, today’s propaganda campaign makes the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq seem like an exercise in measured, rational thinking, with very little “groupthink” — that’s the kind of nightmare America’s in. This topsy-turvy political reality features the nominal Left — and virtually all of the “liberal” media, marching in lockstep — attacking an arguably neo-fascist president-elect FROM THE RIGHT, urging him TOWARD war!!! (A war Trump consistently says he doesn’t want, indicating he’d rather cooperate with Russia to roll back ISIS and al Qaeda…)
It bears repeating: today’s neoliberal Democratic Party and the corporate media are urging the greatest “wild card” president-elect in American history TOWARD WAR, on the basis of a pack of anonymous, evidence-free claims coming from the same intelligence agencies and war-hawking miscreants who’ve repeatedly lied to the American public during major propaganda campaigns of the recent past…
Another factor to consider: Didn’t President Obama sign the 2012 NDAA, which effectively repealed the venerable Smith-Mundt Act, which for over six decades prohibited the government from propagandizing the American public? Sadly, he did. That’s also a part of the present political reality in America that should be a part of today’s “Russian hacking” discussion.
We are witnessing nothing less than the collapse of mainstream American journalism and much of the American left, so the situation couldn’t be more critical. Whatever doubts I hold about the future, I desperately hope that we succeed in pulling the Democratic Party back to its historic values and back from the brink of warmongering, post-election insanity… because right now, we’re losing it.
In any case, I hope the articles I’ve linked here (and elsewhere), will help progressives and liberals sort truth from fiction in the current blitz of propaganda — and help us drag the Democratic Party to Trump’s LEFT, where it belongs. If not, we won’t have any choice but to #DemEXIT for good.