Does the Democratic Party have a future?

Democrats are gloating over the divisions and self-destructive path of the Republican Party, but their own party’s leaders are equally divisive and self-destructive.   President Obama and the rest of the party’s top leadership are dismantling everything that would give an ordinary working person or middle-class person a reason to vote Democratic.

I have in mind Obama’s attacks on the social safety net, his “too big to fail” and “too big to jail” policies toward lawbreaking Wall Street banks and his support for treaties that would give corporate-friendly international courts the authority to override U.S. laws protecting workers, public health and the environment.

Newsweek - Obama - The Democrats ReaganI voted for Barack Obama in 2008 when he promised to seek a public option for health insurance, to defend Social Security and Medicare, to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement to protect the interests of workers, to support “card check” to protect the rights of workers to form labor unions, to bring the national security apparatus under the rule of law and the Constitution and to keep the United States out of “dumb wars.”

I voted against him in 2012 because he did just the opposite of these things.   He never even considered a public option.  He has repeatedly offered to cut Social Security and Medicare.   He supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, now being negotiated in secret, which is worse than NAFTA.   He did not support card check, nor has he done anything to defend the rights of labor to organize.  His record on civil liberties and warmongering is worse than that of President Bush.

For quite some time progressives have ceased to defend President Obama’s policies on their merits.   They say we should support President Obama because his policies are not as bad as Paul Ryan’s or Darrell Issa’s.  This puts President Obama in a position to offer what the blogger “Digby” called a Sophie’s Choice.

The White House and the Democratic centrists are holding hostages. … [T]hey’re basically telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what:  Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one.

via Hullabaloo.

As she wrote, sometimes the best choice is to just say “no”.

Back during the Bush administration, I read What’s the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank and Deer Hunting With Jesus by Joe Bageant, which were about why working people in Kansas and southwest Virginia voted Republican when the Republican Party pursued policies counter to their interests.   Their answers were not so much that these voters gave priority to cultural and moral issues over their economic interests as that neither party championed their economic issues.

turn-rightNow cultural and moral issues are working more to the advantage of the Democrats than the Republicans, but it is still the case that (with a few honorable exceptions) neither party’s leaders defend the interests of working people.  The Democratic leaders hope that people will vote for them because they are the party of abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and affirmative action (I agree with the first two, but not the last two) and forget about jobs, wages and the social safety net.   I think this is wrong and, on purely pragmatic grounds, I don’t think this is sufficient for a winning electoral coalition.

Public opinion polls show that the majority of Americans blame the Bush administration and not the Obama administration for the Great Recession.  But the fact is that the Obama administration’s economic policies are continuations of the Bush administration policies.   What has President Obama done or proposed that will help wage-earners and the unemployed, or prevent another and worse Great Recession?  I can’t think of anything except the stimulus package, which did not achieve its object but may have prevented an even worse decline.

For the past 20 or so years, the Democrats and Republicans have alternated in power.  Just 10 years ago, the Democratic future seemed as bleak as the Republican future does now, but they quickly came back.  The Republicans could do the same.  I think the American people are not satisfied with either party.  That is why neither one stays in power for more than a term or two.  Eventually either one or both of the two parties will change direction, or one or both of the two parties will break up.   I have lived long enough to know I can’t predict the future.  The only thing I am sure of is that things can’t go on the way they are now.


Click on the following links for more.

Barack Obama’s economic legacy: His four must-have items by “Gaius Publius” on AMERICAblog.

Is This Barack Obama’s 2nd Term?  Is It Bill Clinton’s 3rd?  Or Is It Ronald Reagan’s 9th? by Bruce A. Dixon on the Black Agenda Report.

Obama Honors Thatcher With TVA Privatization Plan by Nathan Tankus on naked capitalism.

Howard Dean: Obama Might Drive Me Out of the Democratic Party on BuzzFeed Politics.

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