Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Self-Defeating Argument That The Democratic Party Represents Meaningful Change

Both morally and politically, the Democratic Party has failed after forty years of pivoting to the interests of corporations and the wealthy, and a great deal of people are now taking action to fix that. Bernie Sanders, despite having been prevented from becoming the new face of the party last year by pro-Clinton Democratic leaders, he and others are making another go at reforming the Democrats. And should this effort fail, these progressives will still have the option of letting the already sinking ship which is the Democratic Party go underwater and rally around an alternative organization.

Unfortunately, a good chunk of the Democratic base appears to be satisfied with their party's current form. During the 2016 campaign, more Democrats were found to be satisfied with Hillary Clinton than there were Republicans who felt the same about Donald Trump, and 56% of Democrats feel that their party represents them. While that latter figure would no doubt shrink to less than 50% if it were to include all of the left-leaning individuals who no longer affiliate with the party, an overhaul of the currently neoliberal Democratic leadership will be difficult for as long as so many Democrats remain unaware of what their party represents.

So in this piece, I'm going to attempt to change the minds of those who believe the Democratic Party in its current form represents a serious threat to the corporate state. I've made this argument many times before, but in those cases a mistake I might have made is focusing only on the actions of the party's leaders. A more effective way of proving the Democratic establishment represents the oligarchy is pointing out the fact that the oligarchy works to accommodate it.

The reality is that if Democrats were a party of the people, the political system in its current form would not allow them to have any power. When Bill Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention in 1992 that "I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: your time has come and gone," had he meant this genuinely, said forces would have immediately started doing everything to sabotage him. His campaign would have been attacked and/or ignored by the corporate media, he would have been shut out of the presidential debates and had a difficult time getting onto all of the ballots, and either Bush or Perot would have prevailed. So is the case with every other corporate-funded Democrat like him who claims to want systemic governmental change.

Just look at what's happened to the few politicians in the last several decades who have actually tried to bring about what Clinton promised. When Ralph Nader tried to enter a 2000 presidential debate simply as a member of the audience, the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private organization run by evidently very partisan representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, barred him from entering the area. Something similar happened to him in 2004 when Democratic officials hurt his campaign by filing pointless and resource-draining lawsuits against it. Nader wasn't the only candidate like him who was sabotaged during that election cycle, as evidenced by the successful attempt by the corporate media to wreck Howard Dean's campaign. Another instance of this systemic effort to block out non-corporatist candidates occurred in 2012, when the NYPD, which has a history of attacking those who threaten the neoliberal order, arrested Jill Stein for trying to enter the site of the New York presidential debate.

But never has the oligarchy-friendly nature of the modern American electoral process been made more apparent than in 2016. While some have tried to claim the fact that the DNC officials who expressed bias against Bernie Sanders had little control over the results of last year's primary proves the contest wasn't rigged, WikiLeaks' findings were only one part of the picture.

Throughout the primaries, pro-Hillary Clinton election officials often went out of their way to sabotage Sanders, starting with the first contest in Iowa wherein widespread reports surfaced of voter suppression and a highly suspicious "re-staged" vote count took place. Similar (and successful) efforts to rig the primary against Sanders occurred in Nevada, Massachusetts, Arizona, New York, the Nevada State Democratic Convention, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and California. Lesser but still consequential instances of electoral fraud took also took place in many other states, as evidenced by the numerous statistically impossible Democratic primary vote models which favored Clinton in every case. Another way Sanders was felled by a corporate-controlled political process, predictably, was the media blackout which plagued his campaign.

And then, to add insult to injury, Sanders' ideological successor for the 2016 election Jill Stein was sabotaged as well, with the corporate media having launched a smear campaign against her and the Commission on Presidential Debates having deliberately chosen polls which underestimated her support while deciding who could participate in the debates.

Judging from these and other ways the oligarchy has rigged our electoral process to benefit candidates and parties that represent it, one can only conclude that the best way to tell if a candidate or party doesn't intend to protect the people's interests is to see whether or not the media and the major political institutions are trying to get them out of the picture. And clearly, the Democratic Party fails this test simply because of the fact that it's succeeded in the current political system.

Fortunately this sad state of affairs, wherein one can only trust a politician to uphold the popular interest if they're being shut out of the political process, will have a good chance of changing in the very near future. Economic inequality is now at a level not seen since the late 1920's, right before the public rose up to bring about the New Deal, and a similar event is certain to take place within the next few years. But in order to make this overthrow of the corporate power structure effective, we'll need to take a firm stand against the corporatists who currently control the Democratic Party.

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