The (Much Needed) Bruising Liberal-Left Divide Reshaping American Politics


By Pete Davis
The Guardian (10/26/17)

It has been almost a year since the catastrophic election of Donald Trump. In his first year in office, the president has governed as cruelly and ineptly as his critics predicted. But while anti-Trump sentiment has never been more fierce and widespread, his political opponents are more divided than ever. And this faultline – which has parallels in Britain with divisions among the Labour party – could, if left unaddressed, compromise efforts to resist and defeat Trumpism.

Roughly speaking, these two sides could be characterised as the “populist wing” and the “establishment wing” of the Democratic party, but even this terminology is a point of controversy between the feuding sides. The party’s left wing, for example, wants to call the conflict the “left-liberal divide”. Loyalist Democrats want to play down the divide, calling for unity by insisting that Democrats are all members of “the left” (if those calling for unity are younger, millennial types), or that they are all “liberals” (if they are older, Clinton-era types). The right, meanwhile, does not understand the divide, continuing to believe in a monolithic “radical left” filled with “radical liberals”. This leads to the funny situation, as one commentator noted, in which members of both the left and the right reach for the same “I made it through college without becoming a liberal” T-shirt.

In short, the party’s liberal wing believes winning leads to idealism, whereas the party’s left wing believes idealism leads to winning.

The present conflict surfaced, as many intra-party feuds do, during a presidential primary. But unlike past internal conflicts, this one is sticking around. Centrist John Kerry supporters, for example, did not take potshots at insurgent Howard Dean supporters deep into 2005. This year, however, a full ecosystem – replete with duelling podcasts, magazines and candidates – has kept the divide alive. Skirmishes are popping up, like clockwork, every few weeks; from February’s bitterly contested election of a new Democratic National Committee chair, to leftist scepticism about potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris; from the launching of the Clinton-fawning website Verrit to the latest harangue from the liberal-bashing podcast Chapo Trap House.

Discussing a resolution to this conflict is difficult, because even calls for “resolution” can be interpreted as ideological statements. Wanting the Democratic party to survive and unify can be taken as an endorsement of the establishment, because the quickest path to intra-party peace is for the conflict’s leftwing instigators to get in line. Meanwhile, treating the intraparty divide as substantive – arguing that there is, in fact, a significant difference between, say, “Medicare for All” and “Obamacare” – can annoy liberals who believe that the so-called “divide” has been manufactured by a few disgruntled purists.

To resolve our intra-party conflict, we must first understand it. I believe the two sides’ concerns can be grouped into three divides: the first over party loyalty, the second over how to win elections, and the third over the gap between Democrats and Republicans. Each divide may not be relevant to every partisan in the conflict, but most partisans have divided over at least one of these three. …

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to )


Democrats – Still Drifting Toward Disaster

And taking us with them.

By John Atcheson
Common Dreams (10/27/17)

On Sunday night, Bernie Sanders confirmed he will run for the Senate as an Independent again in 2018, after running for the Presidency as a Democrat.  Sanders, by the way, is the most popular politician in America.  There’s a link between these two facts that the Democratic Party is choosing to ignore, and it’ll cost them – and us.

People reject both parties – and it’s hard to blame them

Let’s run through some stats that reveal the state of politics in America.

Two of the most important are 28.1 per cent 27.3 percent of eligible voters.  Those are the percentages of the total eligible voters voting for Clinton and Trump respectively. If we were to choose the percent of voting age population their numbers would be even lower, with Trump’s share coming in at a little over 26 percent.

But regardless, it means that nearly 45 percent of voters didn’t choose to vote for either party’s candidate.  It’s actually worse than that since in fourteen states, more votes were cast for down ballot candidates, than for president, which means voters were so turned off by their choices, they left the top of the ticket blank. Yet when folks establish turnout, these “none-of-the-above” voters are counted. In Nevada, where people can actually choose “none-of-the-above,” for President 29,000 people did so.

The narrative in the media was all about how close this race was.  In reality, none-of-the-above won in a walk, just as it has for decades, now. This degree of disaffection isn’t normal.  It’s not the case in most of the developed world; and it didn’t used to be the case here in the US.

And neither party has a monopoly on how much they are loathed by the people.  Republican congressional leaders have favorable ratings of just 20 percent, and overall, Republicans in Congress have the support of just 29 percent.

Democrats – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Which brings us back to Sanders running as an Independent and being the most popular politician in America.  Sanders has held progressive positions for as long as he’s been in politics.  And the fact is, the American people share his views. In study after study, Americans overwhelmingly poll left-of-center on an issue-by-issue basis.

But as a result of a well-funded campaign by corporations and several rich families beginning in the late 1970’s, the word “liberal” has become so toxic that even people who hold liberal views on an issue-by-issue basis are loath to identify themselves as liberal.

The neoliberal’s who control the Democratic Party use the fact that the liberal label has been discredited to justify their continued reliance on the old DLC model of trying to appeal to the center-right.  In the past, they pretended to believe that the country was, in fact, center-right, but in a recent New York Times editorial, neoliberal and Clintonite Doug Schoen revealed the real reason Democrats won’t embrace progressivism is that they are dependent upon the uber-rich, Wall Street, and corporate campaign contributors.

But here’s the deal: their reliance upon this old centrist DLC strategy has made the party all but irrelevant, and it is the reason only 35 percent of registered voters believe that the Democratic Party stands for anything.

In short, faced with an enormous opportunity to reverse their four-decade fall from grace, Democrats are fighting with progressives who represent the Party’s only shot at winning in 2018 and 2020, and are, instead, clutching at the neoliberal dogma of the Clintonites, riding it into political oblivion.

Back when Kennedy was President and the party backed New Deal values, some 50% of folks called themselves Democrats, and only about a quarter self-identified as Republicans. Today, less than 30% identify as Democrats and about 26% identify as Republicans.

That drop has translated to an enormous shift in power at all levels of government. For example, Republicans control both legislative bodies in thirty-two states, while Democrats do so in just thirteen. Currently thirty-four states have a Republican governor, while only fifteen are headed by a Democrat, and one—Alaska—is headed by an independent.

Ceding the stage to the passionately ignorant minority

But that’s what you get when 40 percent of the eligible voters are so turned off by politics that they don’t show up. Worse, that strategy lets the passionately ignorant minority control the political system and put dangerous megalomaniacs like Trump in charge.

And by embracing the old and failing neoliberal DLC centrist strategy based on corporate interests instead of the people’s interests, the mainstream Democratic Party and the folks who control it are choosing to try to hold onto the personal power the system gives them, even if it means the Party and the people suffer.

But by trolling the center-right for a few more votes while embracing corporatism, Democrats are assuring the progressive majority stays home and wing-nuts win.

Bottom line: Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America because he stands for the people’s interests, not the Oligarchy’s. The progressive majority in America is fed up with parties that are beholden to corporations, the ultra-rich, and special interests.  By trying to ignore that, Democrats are setting themselves – and us – up for disaster in 2018 and 2020.

(John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, and he has just completed a book on the 2016 elections titled, WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track)

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)

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Chris Hedges: The Liberal Elite Has Betrayed The People They Claim To Defend


“We’re fighting both parties.”

(Editor’s Note: This interview was done several years ago – long before Trump was on the radar screen. It provides a good understanding of why – in the absence of a true, assertive progressive movement – Trump’s fascist right is rising so quickly in the United States. The left needs to turn from the faux liberals of Clintonism and Obama or they will continue to pave the way for the fascist right. – Mark L. Taylor)

Real News

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges says The Democratic Party used to watch out for the interests of labor and even for the poor. But that all changed under Bill Clinton. Although Clinton, like Obama, continues to speak in that feel-your-pain language of traditional liberalism, they’ve completely betrayed the very people that they purport to represent and defend.

Link to 18-Minute Video


Want REAL Change? The Power Elite Needs To Be Terrified Of Us! Chris Hedges Lays Out The Reality Of The Only Thing That Will Save Us

“Whether it’s Bush or it’s Obama, Goldman Sachs wins.”

(Editor’s Note: If there is only one thing you link to from today’s Commoner Call, make it this. Hedges lays out the only pathway to sane governance and oursleves. – Mark L. Taylor)

In the continuation of Paul Jay’s Reality Asserts Itself interview with Chris Hedges, they discuss the fantasy that we can have everything we want and the reality of the grave dangers facing us.

Link to 29-Minute Video