I found an old tweet from the election today. “I’ll take the cynical technocrat over the racist nihilist.”
I still would. The breathtaking incompetence of this administration and the sinister prioritization of petty, punitive measures is nothing short of a disaster. But, that’s them.
We had our chance to prevent this from happening and we lost. We lost because our party lied. We lied to ourselves and we lied to others. The neo-liberal wing of this party needs to go. Yesterday. I’m done with unity. We need to have this fight and we need to have it now.
“We deserved this election.”
“We were cheated.”
I tell myself this to feel better while I pathetically refuse to look in the mirror.
Russian interference, freelance propaganda masquerading as news, Comey – I love citing these reasons. It’s so much easier to blame “them” - the ignorant hordes. But, none of this can account for the massive, systemic failure of the Democratic Party to offer a cohesive, moral, relevant vision for the future. None of the excuses around why this election was won by a jaundiced toddler will account for the failure of democrats at the local and state level. Neither the Republicans, the Russians nor Trump forced us to run a fatally-flawed candidate. They didn’t force the DNC to anoint Hillary with a finger on the scale. They didn’t force us into being complicit with immoral wars, torture, supply-side policies, and a milquetoast, capitalism-lite local agenda. They didn’t force us to pull punches around socialist programs that work, or offer meek support for programs helping the least fortunate. The didn’t replace our talking points on why it is fundamentally immoral and un-American to deny healthcare to anyone on any grounds with a primer from the insurance industry. They didn’t write the talking points where we avoid mentioning the words “liberal” or “socialism” as if they are poison and not words that represent a moral imperative. They didn’t force us to relinquish our claim to moral authority, divinely-inspired action, or our rightful place in American history. We gave them this. And, we can take it back.
But, we need to get some things straight first.
The party as we knew it is dead. It’s been dead for some time. But, we insist on playing “Weekend at Bernie’s,” carrying around the corpse pretending it still has life.
“Look at the protests around the country!” we say. It feels vibrant, spontaneous, authentic, and hopeful. But, the party has nothing to do with this, nor is it able to capture this momentum. They have nothing to offer. The most popular politician in their party isn’t in their party.
Tom Perez gets trotted out to run the DNC and is supported by the same old party mainstays with the same old dead-hollow rhetoric. He slipped up though. He admitted that the game was rigged and that the DNC anointed Hillary. Until he realized he couldn’t say that. He backpedaled, groveled and growled, but it’s too late. We all know the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Clintons worked to undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders. We know that the woman hired to replace DWS, Donna Brazile, was fired from CNN for lying about colluding with the Clinton campaign. She was too corrupt for CNN, but continues to run the party. Too much of a liar for CNN. Really.
The man that should be the next chair of the DNC, Keith Ellison, has been the target of absurd attacks more reminiscent of a dirty general-election battle than an interparty process to pick a chair. As an African-American Muslim, elements of his own party paint him as a deadbeat anti-Semite. Think about that for a second. A man who has dedicated his entire adult life to service within this party is smeared with the same attacks that we point to as examples of racism and the worst our politics has to offer. And the camp that is lobbing these grenades just led us into a Trump presidency. The most talented, most connected, most competent wing of this party is being challenged by the zombie corpse of the neo-liberal establishment. The same neo-liberals who just oversaw the most devastating election defeat in modern history. It’s stunning really.
But, I get it. Like any good partisan, I refuse to acknowledge the deficits in my team, especially during election season. The list of the mental loopholes I found in an effort to support my team is long.
We are the party of peace and refused to criticize a president who approved drone strikes that killed children and civilians. We are the party of the working class and we supported trade deals that benefit the ultra-rich. We mock the working poor for their ignorance while reveling in our education and status gained via inheritance and privilege. We are the party of the New Deal and remain sheepish in advocating for the already decimated welfare state. We bail out bankers and war criminals and refuse to prosecute either. We are the party of equality and offer tepid support, if any, for Black Lives Matter. We oppose big money and our party worked against the only viable candidate who wasn’t totally reliant upon the support of the super-rich. We watched while the largest and most intrusive national surveillance apparatus in the history of the world was constructed in front of us, but the leader was our guy, and he was so good. The list is long.
But, movements are not built by leaders, charisma, or policy, as he would often remind us. They are built by people with principles.
We had these principles, but the lure of big money and power was too much. Many of our leaders lead for them, not us. They lead with a mind on the next election, the next chairmanship, the next office. They lead not because of the good they can do – not as a means to an end – but because they think they are good at it. And they fail us because too often they believe in themselves and not in us.
If the business interests, powerful allies and people we fear were silenced, what would we advocate for?
That's the party we need.
Part Two Next...