Saturday, February 1, 2020

Centrist Democrats—Politics’ Deer in the Headlights

Humorist Will Rogers is famous for the comment, “I’m not a member of any organized political party—I’m a Democrat.”

He made that statement nearly a hundred years ago and not much has changed since. The party of old white men still trembles in the presence of changing times (as does its Republican counterpart).

We may have outgrown our current two-party system, at least in its obvious shortcomings related to voters. Neither party has the slightest understanding of what’s going on in America outside the Washington bubble.

But for the moment our subject is centrist Democrats and we’ll leave the steaming pile of Republican dirty laundry for another conversation.

Democrats would love to win in November—oh, would they ever. But they simply can’t wrap their little minds around how to do that, no matter how great the opportunity at hand. Voters across the country keep telling them what to do, that the nation and the times and the history before us is ready for capitalistic socialism—but they chew and chew and chew and simply cannot raise the courage to swallow.

We are already a socialist nation in many ways and embracing that fact will not, I promise, turn us into Communist Russia.

We already have Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, interstate highways, free education until university (publicly funded). One-third of U.S. patents rely on government-funded research — a number that has increased steadily since the 1970s. Google, Apple Computer, Facebook (god help us) and Microsoft would not exist today without various government-funded research projects.

Welcome to capitalistic socialism. America invented it.

And then there’s Bernie. Frontrunner among millennials, American youth in general, favorite of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the groundswell support that brought her to office and leader in poll after poll of candidates who could defeat Trump---centrist Democrats and mainstream media constantly refer to Sanders as ‘unelectable.’

I might remind them that both groups smugly insisted that Donald Trump was unelectable as well, until they found themselves with their pants around their ankles and an ‘impossible deplorable’ in the White House.

In the forty years of our decline since Reagan, both national political parties co-conspired to bring us massive privatization of public entities and the stripping of every tool from the toolbox of business oversight.

We suffered banks without banking regulation, industrial agriculture abusing antibiotics and herbicides, a Pentagon that couldn’t account for $13 trillion gone missing, as well as offshore private and corporate tax havens. Seemingly overnight, we witnessed the simultaneous rise of billionaires in gated communities and homeless on the streets.

Every presidential candidate (including and since Reagan) has smilingly promised us change. Change without definition, without promises or sell-by dates or even so much as a sniff of what it might mean.

But they did not lie. We got change, by god. 

Something called social media took over our lives and brought with it the freedom to anonymously hate one another, to gang up on the fragile and the undecided until death us do part, to count our friends in the thousands—with no one to have coffee with or call at 2am in an emergency. 

Change came by way of banks that cheated, companies that lied, undeclared war and periodic financial disasters that wiped out all but the wealthy.

The center disappeared like castles in the sand and yet the centrist Democrats survive, like dog-shit stuck to our shoe. They are terrified that someone will actually promise things—like a return to the public good.

We hunger for that. Forty years of lies by both parties produced a gnawing hunger in the public gut for someone—anyoneto rip up the contract.

And we got him.

We got exactly what we asked for and we’re not all that sure we like what we got, but the hunger in the gut is still there. We have less trust in government, less trust in our fellow down the street and way less trust in the truth versus fake-truth. But we’re for sure not going to give it up to centrist Democrats.

We will (I think) give it up to a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren—and would have the last time around, if it weren’t for Hillary, the media and the DNC stealing Bernie’s rightful place as candidate.

Bernie always carried a media asterisk—powerful, but not electable. Popular, dynamic and forceful, but not electable. Fuck them. Who were they to say in the face of donor-dollars and youth popularity. Bit of a surprise, that youth popularity thing.

And here we go again, this time with unattributed centrist Democrats. And, once again, they will get what they deserve and Donald Trump will be re-elected.

Which doesn’t mean that you and I and the nation will get what we deserve.

We deserve a Green New Deal, the re-establishment of America’s reputation in the world, a major rejection of military-industrial emergence and a return to tax structures of the fifties through seventies.

We deserve a president who promises those goals without telling his nation and the world 16,000+ lies in his or her first three years in office.

Perhaps, but only perhaps, if we can get the ‘centrists’ in the Democratic party to wrap their little minds around how to do that, there is a chance for change in 2020.

Ah yes, change. There’s that word again. Always having lacked definition and application in politics, perhaps Bernie and his like can give it one more swing around the block.

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