By Theo Anderson
In These Times (6/21/17)
Republicans love to point to their success at the ballot box as proof of their vitality. A party that controls a majority of statehouses and the U.S. Congress, along with the Supreme Court and the presidency, must have the most popular ideas. Right?
So the theory goes. And there was more evidence for it on Tuesday, as Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s 6th District.
For a party that’s so successful, though, the GOP sure doesn’t have much confidence in its policies. Hunkered down in a closed-off D.C. office building, Republican senators are now working out the finer points of their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, keeping the details secret because “we’re not stupid,” as one staffer said. They can hide, but they can’t run. They know, as we all know, the reckoning that awaits when the truth—about the plan’s cuts to Medicaid programs and big tax cuts for the wealthy—is revealed.
There is a clearly marked and well-known path to new life for the Democratic Party: embrace and run on a bold, progressive agenda.
It’s the same story on nearly any issue you can name: the GOP agenda is toxic. As I’ve noted before, a national consensus has emerged around a remarkably left-leaning set of policies. Even the once-radical idea of single-payer healthcare is now mainstream, as is the idea of roughly doubling the federal minimum wage. At least 58 percent of Americans also support abortion rights, unions, action on climate change, more investment in renewable energy, higher taxes on the wealthy, free child care, legalized marijuana and stricter limits on campaign spending.
There is a reason, in other words, that Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America. These are the kind of policies he consistently talks about and is pushing for. There’s a reason that Donald Trump, when he wasn’t being racist on the campaign trail, talked a good populist game on economics, promising universal health care and a trillion dollars worth of spending on infrastructure. These are very popular ideas.
But they aren’t Republican ideas. Nor is it clear that the party actually has any ideas. Handel’s campaign in Georgia was no exception. Its theme boiled down to a slightly more polished version of, “You ain’t from round these parts, are ya?” …
- While Democrats Love Bashing Trump That Alone Won’t Help Them Win Again – As the wheels of Trumplandia continue to spin, it’s been easy to overlook one glaring reality: Democrats in Congress are doing almost nothing other than finding new and creative ways to resist the Republicans. As a political tactic, that may be smart, but it leaves the public and voters with no clear or viable alternative as attention slowly begins to turn to mid-term elections in 2018. The attempt of Democrat Jon Ossoff to stage an upset in the special Georgia House election may have floundered in part because he offered scant policy specifics. For the Democrats as a whole, becoming the new Party of No does nothing for a public that across the spectrum demands actual solutions to real problems of income, healthcare, jobs and some coherent vision for the future. The strategy of no, no, no worked well for the Republicans under Obama, and borrowing from the same script may make political sense for Democrats in the short term, adding to the woes of the White House and weighing on congressional Republicans in the majority who feel pressed to do something and have as yet done little. That doesn’t mean it is ultimately wise. And it certainly doesn’t engender any prospect of altering the toxic dynamic at play in Washington. … Read the Rest
Democrats in the Dead Zone
By Jeffrey St. Claire
Counter Punch (6/23/17)
This year the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to grow larger than ever. Oceanologists predict the lifeless expanse of water below the Mississippi River Delta will swell to an area bigger than the state of Vermont, an aquatic ecosystem despoiled by industrial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, oil leaks and the lethal effects of a warming climate. But the desolate waters of the Gulf pale next to the electoral dead zone now confronting the Democratic Party, which seems to occupy about two-thirds of the geographical area of the Republic—a political landscape deadened by the Party’s remorseless commitment to neoliberal economics, imperial wars and open hostility toward the working class base which once served as its backbone.
The latest political zombie offered up as a vessel to freight the electoral asperations of the Democrats was a pious former congressional staffer called Jon Ossoff, whose name sounds like one of those creepy Svengali-like characters from a Tod Browning horror film of the 1930s. But the candidate wasn’t as scary as all that. In fact, Ossoff scared no one, which was both his campaign theme and his problem. One of his problems, anyway. Ossoff presented himself as an anodyne candidate, a nowhere man, a quiescent emissary for a return to civility in politics. He was the white Rodney King, who plaintively asked why we couldn’t all just get along. Of course, who really wants civility in politics, when you’re working two jobs, can’t pay the power bill, have a kid with asthma and just had your Ford Focus repossessed.
Ossoff proved much more popular outside the sixth congressional district of Georgia, than within it, which is only fitting for a candidate who didn’t even bother to reside in the district he was running to represent. Ossoff was an interloper, a carpetbagger, who refused to promote even the trickle-down benefits of a second Reconstruction for a South that has been ravaged by a 30-year-long exodus of good-paying jobs.
They raised truckloads of money off of Ossoff – $24 million, a record for any congressional campaign. The long-held view from the DNC suites is that it’s fine to lose as long as you lose profitably.
In an age crying out for a new kind of politics, Ossoff campaigned directly from the Clinton playbook (Hillary version), apparently hoodwinked into believing that absent Russian interventionism this stale platform was a winning strategy. His main opponent was Trump, not even Trumpism, which might offend some of the Republican voters he was targeting. In what became a kind of daily ritual on the campaign trail, Ossoff repeatedly scrubbed himself clean of any taint of populism or progressive inclinations. Ossoff denounced single-payer health care, kept himself at arm’s length from Bernie Sanders and never uttered even a minor critique of American imperialism. Think of him as a prettified Tim Kaine.
Ossoff dutifully punched one item after another on the checklist of neoliberalism. He wanted to end waste in government. He wanted to trim burdensome regulations stifling the old entrepreneurial spirit. He wanted to reduce the deficit and hectored struggling black families to demonstrate “personal responsibility” if they wanted to get their federal benefits. He pledged his loyalty to Israel, decried nasty dictators from Putin to Assad and vowed to eradicate the scourge of Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth. …
- Civil War Inside The Democratic Party. Will The Future Belong To The Populist Left Or The Centrists? – America is in the middle of a major political realignment. While the focus is on the Republican party’s internecine fight among corporate realists, political ideologues and the wild-card president, it is a mistake to assume that the Democrats are going to sweep into office in 2018 and 2020 to replace the corroding Republicans. The Democrats are also in a profound struggle over their future. … Read the Rest
VIDEO: Thomas Frank On The Demise Of The Democratic Party
“Trumpism is not going away. He himself may get impeached. He may resign who knows. But republicans now understand; they know how to beat the democratic party. … They know what to do to beat the democrats. They are not going to give up on that. The next ‘Trump’ is going to be someone who is actually good at it.”
The Real News (6/19/17)
Katie Halpern interviews Thomas Frank, author of ‘Listen Liberal’, who says the Democratic Party has become the party of affluent professionals and has lost touch with workers and the poor.
(Commoner Call photo, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )