The biggest single threat facing the Democratic Party is not its “left wing” but rather its radical establishment wing, the ones who preach moderation and compromise as if it was more important to play nice with their radical establishment Republican counterparts than to deliver needed relief and reform to the people who actually elected them. They mislead Americans of all income levels into ignoring the needs of the portion of our population that is struggling, the portion our government needs to support most. Both Dems and Republicans remain mired in the myth that the only way to win and stay in power is to keep the billionaire captains of campaign contributions content in their mansions of money-earned money. This establishment group has vilified concrete progress and tried to turn crucial people-oriented policy into hostile ideological extremism.
I don’t say this because I think the “left wing” of the Dems is always right. It happens that at the moment the left of the Democratic party and some elements of Republicans are much more in touch with the importance of the choice confronting a very confused U.S. public. People are asking themselves; do we shift our support to the side that demonstrates it can deliver the support and opportunity we have been craving for so many years or do we shift toward the kind of dictatorial populist promises we have clung to in desperation for the last four years? In the latter case, Trump or a Trump-like strong man will rise again at the expense of our democracy. The Republicans are counting on the Dems to prioritize compromise with them (and consequently failing to deliver anything real) over acting like effective public servants.
This strategy serves the minority party which itself is vying to retain its hold over white rural American votes. They have deluded themselves into thinking Trumpism is the way to do that. In fact, none other than Mitt Romney just floated an idea that would involve issuing monthly checks to almost all Americans with children. This is a kind of welfare for parents but might genuinely reverse the growing crisis of food-insecure children born in the richest country in the world. This shows that Dems aren’t the only ones thinking about policy that serves the neediest and at the same time their votes as well.
Democratic leadership wants everyone who is not a Trump supporter to believe all his supporters are incorrigible, unreachable, and yes, deplorable. This way they can write all rural white working Americans off in terms of their needs and strengthen their position with the financial aristocracy (who thrive off exploiting rural working Americans) while simultaneously calcifying the culture divide begun four years ago. Steve Roberts (Star Democrat, Feb. 7, 2021) is a perfect foil for establishment monied interests: “But if Biden takes a longer view, he would be better served by negotiating seriously with Republicans and accepting a compromise if one becomes at all possible.” Steve Roberts is an inside-the-beltway deluded apologist for the wealthy establishment, but Democratic leaders are listening. The compromises he recommends would surely mean gutting any legislation so that real deliverables are never accomplished on Biden’s watch, thus ensuring the dominance of money to the neglect of the many, and also ensuring the Democratic party never cracks the code to unlock the votes of the people, working people, they have claimed to sympathize with for the last 100 years.
If you are a Republican or Democrat who cares about your party and cares about the condition of American workers, or an independent like me who doesn’t care about political parties but does want to see a government that supports its most vulnerable citizens, then you need to do two things. A. Stop cutting your party slack for tolerating incompetence and corruption and B. Insist at the local, state and federal level party leadership deliver for working families. These demands have several purposes: first it shows you care about your fellow Americans, second it shores up votes for the party or parties you identify with when they make things better for folks, and last it helps to bridge the huge gap both economic and cultural that if not checked will lead to mobs that will make the One-Six-One mob look like a church picnic.
We are living with a political system that has been steadily tweaked to make it less and less accountable. This has only been successful because “comfortable” partisans from both sides allowed it to happen without speaking out. Beyond just speaking out we need to advocate for changes that will force our “representatives” to be genuinely representative of our views. You may not need for things to change in your present situation but if they don’t change now, the crucial nature of the state of our badly bent democracy will end up breaking to the detriment of everyone’s lives. After you make your voice heard to your “representatives,” the next step is to advocate for Structural Political Reform. We need to restore accountability and competitiveness to the political process.
More about what that looks like and how it can happen soon.
Peter Taillie writes from Greensboro. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.