On the Delusions of Progressive Democrats: Contradiction in Terms

At TruthDig, David Sirota reflects on the Democratic Party's corporatist agenda, correctly noting that corporatistism is the ruling ideology of the Democratic-Republican two-party state:
Under Democratic corporatism, “government” is not what it used to be—it is not tough financial rules or public programs like Medicare. Instead, ”government” now means giving public dollars to private banking, insurance and drug firms, and then hoping (but not mandating) that such largesse compels those companies to change.

This public-private collusion, it must be noted, is not limited to one of the two parties—in today’s money-dominated politics, they both champion it when in power. Additionally, corporatism is neither “left” nor “right”—Barack Obama’s bailouts are no more “liberal” than George W. Bush’s corporate welfare bills were “conservative.”
Given his recognition of this fact, Sirota's clear bias in favor of the Democratic Party is virtually inexplicable, and completely undermines the next step in his argument. He continues:
The difference [between Democrats and Republicans] is that unlike business-affiliated Republicans, Democrats in 2008 explicitly pledged to fight such state-sponsored larceny, and America sees their subsequent betrayal as an unseemly attempt to feign concern for voters while enriching the party’s corporate donors.
As I noted yesterday, rhetorical opposition to the Democratic-Republican corporatist bipoligarchy is itself becoming a condition for the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican corporatist bipoligarchy. Thus, Republicans also explicitly pledge to fight "state-sponsored larceny," most obviously in the form of their supposed opposition to excessive taxation. They even occasionally act in accordance with such pledges. Recall, for instance, the original vote in the House rejecting the initial bankster bailout on September 29th 2008, before the Congress completely capitulated to the 'market terrorists,' as we might call them – following the president's lead, that is:

The U.S. House has rejected legislation to bail out the country's financial industry by a vote of 228-205. Of the House's 235 Democratic members, 140 voted in favor of the bailout, 95 against. Of 199 Republicans, only 65 voted "yea."
Though Sirota appears blinded by his antiquated notions of what the Democratic Party stands for (he invokes, for instance, both FDR and LBJ), others are not so naive or nostalgic. Under the headline "How this Administration is Creating Third Party Voters" at Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak has published a comment that was left at Matt Taibbi's blog:

people are not fooled by Obama throwing out platitudes like “I didn’t run for President to please fat-cat bankers” and then appointing people like Tim Geithner of Goldman Sachs to Treasury, keeping Ben Bernanke around, and having people who caused the economic pain for so many people like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as his economic advisors. And are not fooled when he does nothing but mouth platitudes, or makes a scene of phoning a bank to tell them not to buy a plane, as the largest round of banking bonuses is handed out the year after they did the financial equivalent of blowing up the world. And are not fooled when he gives a speech to Wall Street politely requesting them not to be so greedy, and that they don’t need to wait for him to enact legislation to change their behavior. And are not fooled when all the popular elements of reform like a public insurance option are gutted out of the health care reform bill in order to “pass something” and call it a win, and then lie that you “never campaigned on a public option” . . .

I think Obama and his circle really believed that if he just talked the talk, and acted more empathetic in his photo-ops, no one would notice they were carrying on with the contempt Bush and Republicans had for the general public. But people did notice, and people who they counted on before to volunteer and vote for them because “they have no one else to vote for” are sick and tired of playing that game . . .

I came of voting age just a little before 2000, and could never really understand why people would “waste” a vote on someone like Nader. And although I was a supporter of Kucinich in 2004, once he was out, favoring Kerry made sense to me. But I’d never really had a real opportunity to see the modern Democratic Party running things in my adult lifetime.

Now I understand why people vote third-party. When the country is teetering on the brink and can’t get by on non-solutions anymore, and avoiding failed-state status actually depends on starting to fix the problems rather than just pretending it’s trying, and EVEN THEN the Democratic Party can only respond by offering trillions to Wall Street and legally requiring people who can’t afford health insurance to buy it from private, oligopolistic, profit-maximizing companies, all because of industry’s hold on Congress… then there’s nothing else you can do. In such a sick system, all you have left is your integrity as the country goes to hell, and I understand with crystal clarity why people vote third-party. [Emphasis not mine. -d.]

To be a Democrat or a Republican today is to be nothing but an enabler and a facilitator of the Democratic-Republican Party's corporatist agenda, whatever your intentions may be. To vote Democratic or Republican, to support Republicans and Democrats in any fashion whatsoever, is to provide the political cover for the ongoing criminal conspiracy that is the two-party state and duopoly system of government. If you stand in opposition to the corporatist agendas of the Democratic and Republican Parties, and you do so as a Democrat or Republican, you are the problem you seek to resolve. It is that simple. Luckily, the solution to this problem is ready at hand. Declare your independence from the two-party system and the ideology that reproduces it. At Op-Ed News, Bill Willers has written an open letter to progressive members of Congress, calling on them to withdraw from the Democratic Party:

There has never been a better time for the emergence of a strong third party as a permanent entity. Objective critics of the "system" have now understood that it is rotten beyond repair. Corporate "persons" rule in this two-party setup. "Reforms" are hopelessly inadequate. It should not be necessary to elaborate. What is necessary is revolutionary transformation rather than "change" as a mere campaign buzzword.

As it is, truly progressive members of Congress who identify themselves as democrats are eclipsed -- virtual nonentities really -- by the Democratic Leadership Council which long ago took its place beside the GOP in the corporate sphere . . .

If a contingent of true progressives - that might include such representatives as Kucinich, Grijalva, Lee, Conyers, Baldwin - were to hold a press conference and announce the formation of a Progressive Party with platform to match, the earth would move. There would be a rush of support from progressives, the Green Party, unions, democrats who understand the betrayal from the DLC stranglehold, minority groups, independents seeking change and even from some "moderate" Republicans. And there would surely be renewed interest from the millions who have long since turned off in disgust over the systemic rot that has by now become utterly transparent . . .

The argument that a Progressive Party would rob support from the Democratic Party, thus ensuring Republican control, overlooks what multi-party systems employ all the time: coalitions. Two or more parties can come together to create a platform that will topple a single dominant party. An American Progressive Party -- not a barely visible caucus but a bona fide party created within Congress -- would be an entity to which the Democratic Party would literally be forced to appeal in the interest of its own well being. It would have to move away from the corporate clutches of the DLC and work on a platform that would be acceptable to progressive values -- something not possible given the present system.

Our country was founded by revolutionary idealists who did not even want political parties as such. But two emerged, and the corporate world has taken control of them even as Americans have been conned into the belief that a two-party system is mandatory. A Progressive Party formed from within the now-suppressed progressive faction of this disgraceful Democratic Party would be a major factor in any strategy to lead the U.S. out of its current predicament.


Maikeru said...

I think the problem with Sirota and others like him is that they have "battered Democrats syndrome" - they understand the need for change, but there's a mental block there that prevents them from making the break that they need to make and getting out of the dysfunctional relationship they're currently stuck in with the Democratic party. And there are more than a few on the Republican side with the same problem. People on both sides are afraid that if they finally make that break, it will leave their side of the political continuum weak, but what history actually shows us is that third parties have a good record of actually moving the Overton window in their direction.

d.eris said...

heh. Yes, "battered voter syndrome" is an apt analogy. A lot of people just can't seem to break away from the abusive relationship they have with their party of choice. No matter how many times they are betrayed, they just keep going back, unless they just opt out of politics altogether. But political independence is far preferable to political co-dependency or apathy.