The Democratic Party’s Death Spiral – OpEd
The Democratic Party is in a death spiral that it cannot escape. The debacle continues with members of Congress singing lyrics, “Hey Hey Hey Good-bye,” from an old song. The juvenile display showed that they are up to their old tricks. They are again counting on Republican unpopularity to regain power. They have no intention of doing anything proactively that would energize their rank and file and reverse their string of defeats.
The occasion for this latest disaster was the House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a dream the Republicans have had ever since the law was first passed. Instead of engaging in a strategy to rebuild their devastated party, Democrats have convinced themselves that the impending loss of health care coverage will bring disaffected voters back into their column.
Obamacare is now history because Obama himself and the rest of his party refused to enact Medicare for all, which is what the country needs and wants. Instead, they jerry-rigged a hodge-podge of insurance and Big Pharma bailouts and called it healthcare. Arguing that Obamacare is better than nothing or better than the Republican plan which will rob millions of people of their coverage is an example of how the Democrats have been wiped off of the political map from coast to coast.
Simply put, the Democrats refuse to deliver what voters want. In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory they have also refused to be accountable or to show contrition. They engage in finger pointing at the expense of the left, the Russian government, even celebrities. Jill Stein is to blame, Vladimir Putin is to blame, everyone is at fault instead of the people who thought they could keep threading a tiny electoral needle. The day when all of the people couldn’t be fooled into supporting a useless status quo was over and the Democrats learned that the hard way. They even failed to do the minimum work needed to get out the vote. Hillary Clinton raised $1 billion but didn’t bother to campaign in must win states like Wisconsin or Michigan. Her ignominious end was the result of hubris and hope, hope that Democrats can get voter support without doing anything to earn it.
What looks like extraordinary incompetence is actually much worse. Democrats would rather lose than go to the left. Keith Ellison, no progressive for sure, was robbed of the DNC chairmanship he sought because the Democrats will not stand for even the most tepid, baby steps of reform. They pour all of their money and effort into winning the presidency because they only want to make deals on behalf of the corporate interests which feed them.
They don’t fight to win back state legislatures because they don’t want to. They know very well how to energize the base and win back what they have lost but they cannot do that and keep their big money contributors happy. If they promised free college or student debt abolition or a $15 per hour minimum wage they would surely resurrect themselves. But all of those policy positions are diametrically opposed to what their fat cat benefactors will allow. Simply put, they will not bite the hands that feed them. That is why Hillary Clinton lost enough states to give Donald Trump an Electoral College victory. She raised $1 billion precisely because she knew where her bread was buttered, but standing with her benefactors cost her precious votes. The contradictions make the Democrats unsustainable as a political force.
Slogans like “hope and change” had run their course. Instead of even pretending to take on some reformist positions Democrats engaged in wishful thinking that the same tired nostrums would work one more time. The marketing that brought Obama to office would no longer pass muster with millions of disillusioned voters.
It isn’t clear what form the Obamacare replacement will ultimately take when the Senate votes but it won’t be the plan that we were told would place Obama among the presidential pantheon. His ascent was the last gasp for a party which hoped to fool most of the people most of the time. The chicanery wouldn’t work and certainly not with Hillary Clinton at the helm of the ticket. Millions of people are demanding that the government do something for them. Raise their wages. Make education affordable. Provide a right to healthcare.
Trump and the Republicans won’t do these things, either, and they may be in for surprises as well. But for now there is no buyer’s remorse among their voters who plead to “give him a chance.” The Democrats are again determined to run against Republican unpopularity. The only strategy they are willing to use is the one that has failed them into near oblivion.
It is hard to imagine Democrats planning to taunt Republicans with a song. But then again these are the same people who thought that sitting on the floor would also be a ticket to electoral success. Their demise is only a matter of time.
(Author Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR (http://www.blackagendareport.com), and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com)