Cast your eyes away from the circus that is the Republican Party. Look at the Democratic Party. It is ill. It will need life support relatively soon. I will explain, but first a discussion about a survey from the DNC.
Sitting in front of me as I write is the “Official 2016 Democratic Party Survey,” which I received in the mail a couple of days ago. It’s a sad piece of campaign literature. It purports to be a survey that is interested in my opinion, but it is primarily a fund raising tool. The instructions are quite clear. “Be sure to complete your DNC contribution form,” which is found at the end of the survey. To say that the questions are pablum would be generous. Here’s an example:
How important is it to regain Democratic majorities in Congress and put another Democrat in the Oval Office in 2016?
Not very important
Not important at all
I kid you not. This is an actual question on a survey being sent to Democrats. It is an insult to the intelligence of members of the party, as are most of the other questions. And then there is, shall we say, a misleading invitation, written in bold:
Please make your leadership role within our Party official by becoming a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Wow! What an honor. What must I do? Yup. You guessed it. The next line requests a contribution. So if I give money, I will get to be part of the DNC? (Uh, aren’t the Democrats supposed to be the consumer protection party? This certainly seems like false advertising.)
But this DNC nonsense is nothing compared to the fine print last line of the “survey.”
Contributions to the DNC will be spent for DNC activities and programs as the DNC determines within its sole discretion, and will not be earmarked for a particular candidate.
Really? We are supposed to believe that a party whose establishment, including the chair of the DNC, has lined up so totally behind an inside candidate, Hillary Clinton, is not going to use our contributions to further their preferred candidate’s path to victory? Believe this and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Remember, this is a party leadership that sought to limit debates to aid its chosen candidate. (I assume that the sentence does protect them against the charge of misuse of funds, since it uses the word “earmarked” to provide cover. Very clever. Too clever, in fact, by half.)
Speaking of providing cover. Some 2500 years ago Aristotle warned that governments can use the title of citizen to make people feel as if they share in what he called the honors of the state, even when they don’t. The title serves to hide the control exerted by those in power. Those not in charge are made to feel as if they share in the honors because they have the glorious title of citizen.
The Democratic Party has a similar racket going. Their elite is built into Corporate-Washington nexus in a manner similar to the Republicans, but they have managed to convince their members that they remain the party of the people. (We can all be citizens/members of the DNC, after all. Check out our survey.) Yes, compared to the GOP, the legislation they favor is usually friendlier to the health and well-being of most Americans than the laws Republicans prefer. But we have gotten used to a pretty low bar. And in recent years the party’s leaders have certainly shown their willingness to avoid protecting the poor and disenfranchised when they deem it against their self-interest. (Just look at the legislation signed by Bill Clinton and the damage it did to the poor.)
In terms of actually giving ordinary folks more say in how their lives are lived—for example, by reducing the influence of money in politics—the differences between the parties have become trivial. Actions speak louder than words here. How much difference is there between the parties in terms of the influence of money on their office holders, or how party leaders move in and out of influential corporations that help write legislation, or the number of their officials who serve as lobbyists, as well as how national elections are rigged to favor those who will be “moderate” enough to play ball, for example, through superdelegates and the primary schedule? (The conservative South shapes the election narrative by holding its primaries early.) It’s quite obvious that the average Democrat has little to say about the shape and direction of the party, notwithstanding nonsense DNC surveys.
After years of manipulating large segments of the voting public through fear and deceit, the GOP may now pay a terrible price. Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz) may end up the nominee of the party. Outsiders. Trump is especially scary because the GOP establishment doesn’t currently control him. We may see the GOP fracture in the near future. Or be transformed into a different beast.
But the Democratic leadership shouldn’t think that it is in the cat bird seat. As the Sanders insurgency has shown, many Democrats are waking up after years of being taken for granted by the party’s establishment. They are tired of hearing speeches about inequality and fairness from people willing to take advantage of the Washington-Corporate nexus for their own personal gain.
The survey is a good example of how those in power become so comfortable with manipulating their “supporters” that they can’t see that the party may be coming to an end. The Democratic Party is in deep trouble if it thinks that it can continue to dupe people with phony surveys, or pronouncements about how democratic the party is, and how we can improve the economy with a few more Band-Aids. This is especially true after the economic crisis of 2008 and the continuing decline of the working class.
Change may not happen tomorrow. But it will come. How do I know? I found a message in a time traveling bottle: “Bernie was right!” Respectfully yours, The Millennials.