By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
One reason the Dem establishment doesn't change after a loss like #GA6: Consultants who are part of that establishment just made millions.
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) June 21, 2017
Read the quote in the graphic above again. Insider Party consultants made millions off of Jon Ossoff’s loss. Would those insiders take an Ossoff win if it meant no money for them? These people, Democratic Party elites, are not your friends and they’re not the nation’s friends. They are their own friends, period.
This is the other problem the nation faces. This is why the nation can’t have nice things, like Medicare for All:
Hillary Clinton: Single-payer health care will ‘never, ever’ happen
Clinton stressed how difficult it is to stand up to the existing health insurance industry … “I think it’s important to point out that there are a lot of reasons we have the health care system we have today,” she said. “I know how much money influences the political decision-making…”
an economy free of predatory monopolies:
Amazon is the shining representative of a new golden age of monopoly that also includes Google and Walmart…. In its pursuit of bigness, Amazon has left a trail of destruction—competitors undercut, suppliers squeezed—some of it necessary, and some of it highly worrisome. And in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette, it has entered a phase of heightened aggression unseen even when it tried to crush Zappos by offering a $5 rebate on all its shoes or when it gave employees phony business cards to avoid paying sales taxes in various states.)
and bankers who got to jail when they steal money (“The Untouchables: How the Obama administration protected Wall Street from prosecutions“).
This is a large part of why the worst political party in 100 years — the Republican Party, if you’re wondering — holds so much power. The other resistance is against Democratic Party policies like these. Democrats will have a very hard time winning until they change.
Which means, I think, that we’ll have to make them change. It should be clear by now that the next revolution must be inside the Democratic Party, unless one wishes to scale the mountain of deliberate, structural impediments to forming a viable, 50-state third party.
No Time Left At All
Moreover, we don’t have time for a 30-year project of reform. We have two years, maybe four, at most — après ça, le déluge. Here’s why:
a. Climate change won’t wait 30 years, while we elect sufficient climate-friendly Democrats and build sufficient Democratic political infrastructure to deal with it. Mother Nature is on the very verge of shrugging her shoulders at last and sloughing us to the floor of the historical past. Once that moment occurs, once we cross that line, we’re doomed to end as a memory, though none will be left to remember us.
b. Nor will all the pissed-off, angry, dying middle class voters wait 30 years, those who live in states where pissed-off dying voters are most concentrated and who chose the worst presidential candidate in modern history, Donald F-ing Trump (yes, that’s his middle name), over the “You can’t have nice things” Democratic candidate our Establishment elites cleverly offered them.
Those people won’t wait at all. They’ve totally had it. Students drowning in debt have totally had it. The jobless and homeless — and soon-to-be jobless and homeless — they’ve had it as well. Every independent (“I hate both parties”) voter in the country, or most, have had it, and every study says so.
How many “I hate both parties” voters are there — or would-be voters if someone would just give them something to vote for? This many:
What does “they have had it” look like in practice? It looks like anything that looks like rebellion against a hopeless life, including putting a fool like Trump in office. It also includes horrors like these. (Nicole Sandler and I discussed this very topic, the collapsing social contract, recently. Click here for the interview. Start at 42:00 for that part of the discussion. Or start at 31:15 for the whole interview, where we discuss what’s going on with Trump-Russia-Comeygate as well.)
“Tick-tick-tick,” says the world-historical clock on the wall. By my count, with the Georgia election Democrats have just blown their fifth chance in a row to make a new first impression — all so that its entrenched politicians, consultants, service-providing infrastructure and media surrogates can make a larger pile of money, grease the skids on their own and their children’s careers, and swan about DC like the minor-league queens and kings they think they are.
“We may be on the Titanic,” I hear them all say, “but the service in First Class is terrific! Check out the lobster in the Oh It’s You, Senator lounge.”
Protecting Their First Class Seats on the Titanic
The quote in the title of this piece is from Bernie Sanders, said in a recent interview with David Sirota. Here’s just a part (emphasis and paragraphing mine):
Sirota: The Democratic Party leadership has lost the White House, Congress, 1,000 state legislative seats and many governorships. Why is the party still run by the same group of people who delivered that electoral record?
Sanders: Because there are people who, as I often say, would rather have first class seats going down with the Titanic, rather than change the course of the ship. There are people who have spent their entire lives in the Democratic Party, there are people who’ve invested a whole lot of money into the Democratic Party, they think the Democratic Party belongs to them. You know, they own a home, they may own a boat, they may own the Democratic Party.
I mean, that’s just the way people are, and I think there is reluctance on some, not all, by the way — I mean, I ran around this country and I met with the Democratic Party leaders in almost every state in the country. Some of them made it very clear they did not want to open the door to working people, they did not want to open to door to young people. They wanted to maintain the status quo.
On the other hand, I will tell you, there are party leaders around the country that said, “You know what, Bernie? There’s a lot of young people out there who want to get involved. We think that’s a great idea, and we want them involved.”
Those who said “You know what, Bernie? There’s a lot of young people out there who want to get involved. We think that’s a great idea” — they don’t run the Party when it comes to its top layers of leadership. Not by a very long shot.
So what’s a progressive to do? It should be obvious. The Democratic Party has to change its policy offering, from “You can’t have what all of you want” to “If the people want a better life, we will give it to them.”
Yet this is not so easily done. For the message to change, the leadership must also change.
Which raises the critical question: How do we depose Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and the rest of their kind and make people like Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley the Party leaders instead?
After all, if someone like Bernie Sanders isn’t Senate Majority Leader, if a Sanders-like politician (Ted Lieu perhaps) isn’t Speaker of the House, what’s the point of electing more back-bench progressives, more “supporting cast” players?
If there’s no way to do that — and soon, given the ticking clock — we’re Sisphus pushing the same heavy bolder up the same high hill, year after year, decade after decade, till we die or the game is finally truly over. 2018 is around the bend. 2020 is coming. Après ça, le déluge. Not much time to solve this one.
Completely filling the Second Class cabins on the Titanic with our people (that is, populating Congress with progressives who are nevertheless kept from leadership and control) won’t change what goes on in the Captain’s cabin and on the bridge.
Put more simply, we need to control the Party, or when the clock truly runs out, all this effort will truly have been pointless. I’m not fatalistic. I assume there’s a way. So here’s my first shot at an answer.
Elected Progressives Must Openly Rebel Against Their “Leaders”
In order for the revolution inside the Democratic Party to work, our elected progressive congressional representatives senators, must work to depose Pelosi and Schumer (etc.) and take power. More — they must do it visibly, effectively and now, in order to convince the 42% of voters that someone inside the Party is trying to knock these people out of the Captain’s chair.
We voters and activists have our own challenges. This is the challenge for the electeds we’ve already put in place. If our elected progressives don’t do this — or won’t do this — “tick-tick-tick” says the world-historical clock on the wall. And we can all go down together, steerage and First Class alike.
It’s time to step up, elected progressives. It’s also time to be seen to step up. Read the Paul Craig Roberts quote at the top again. If the Party’s failed leaders aren’t deposed, the revolution will have failed.
It’s a moment for real courage, and moments of courage bring moments of great fear. I understand that this kind of open rebellion, open public confrontation, a palace coup in front of the TV cameras, is frightening.
It’s also necessary.
My ask: If you agree, write to your favorite elected progressive and say so. No more gravy train for Democratic elites. Meat and potatoes for voters instead. Complete the Sanders revolution by changing House and Senate leadership — now.
I know this puts some very good people on the spot. But maybe that’s a feature, yes?