Democrats Disruption

David Sirota: “Yes, Let’s Wipe Out Trump, But Take Neoliberal Democrats with Him Too”

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Investigative reporter David Sirota is now a regular writer for The Guardian. In this scorching, fiery, take-no-prisoners article, he details the betrayal of Democratic policies by prominent Democrats, who have laid the groundwork for Trump and his enablers in the destruction of American democracy.

He writes:

Amid an upsurge of populist energy that has alarmed the Democratic establishment, a new wave of left-leaning insurgents have been using Democratic primaries to wage a fierce war on the party’s corporate wing. And, as in past presidential primary battles, many Democratic consultants, politicians and pundits have insisted that the party must prioritize unity and resist grassroots pressure to support a more forceful progressive agenda.

Not surprisingly, much of that analysis comes from those with career stakes in the status quo. Their crude attempts to stamp out any dissent or intraparty discord negates a stark truth: liberal America’s pattern of electing corporate Democrats – rather than progressives – has been a big part of the problem that led to Trump and that continues to make America’s economic and political system a neo-feudal dystopia.

Dislodging those corporate Democrats, then, is not some counterproductive distraction – it is a critical front in the effort to actually make America great again.

Right now, there are eight blue states where Democrats control the governorship and the legislature, and five other blue states where Democrats have often had as much or more legislative power than Republicans. These states, plus myriad cities under Democratic rule, collectively oversee one of the planet’s largest economies. Laws enacted in these locales can set national and global standards, and in the process, concretely illustrate a popular progressive agenda. Such an agenda in liberal America could rebrand the Democratic party as an entity that is actually serious about challenging the greed of the 1%, fighting corruption, and making day-to-day life better for the 99%.

Instead, though, liberal America has often produced something much different and less appealing: Democratic politicians who constantly echo courageous populist themes in speeches, news releases and election ads, and then often uses the party’s governmental power to protect the status quo and serve corporate donors in their interminable class war.

Take California: a state where Democrats control the governorship, every state constitutional office and a legislative supermajority. With healthcare premiums rising, polls show 70% of Americans support the creation of a government-sponsored healthcare system. Considering that Canada’s healthcare system first began in its provinces, California would seem a perfect place to create the first such system in the United States. There is just one problem: Democrats are using their power to shut down single-payer legislation as they rake in big money from private insurance and drug companies.

On the opposite coast, it is the same story. A solidly Democratic New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have declined to take up single payer, and have also refused to pass legislation closing special “carried interest” tax loopholes that benefit a handful of Wall Street moguls. As those tax breaks drain public revenue, state officials simultaneously plead poverty in justifying cuts to basic social safety net programs – even as they offer massive taxpayer subsidies to corporations such as Amazon and play host to an endless series of pay-to-play corruption scandals that see wealthy campaign contributors enriched at the public trough.

Even in deep blue Rhode Island – where Democrats are so dominant the 113 member legislature has only 17 Republicans – then-treasurer Gina Raimondo and her fellow Democrats chose to stake their brand on a plan that eviscerated retirement benefits for teachers, firefighters, cops and other public sector workers. Raimondo, a former financial executive whose firm received state investments, also shifted billions of dollars of public workers’ retirement savings into politically connected hedge funds and private equity firms that charge outsized fees, but often generate returns that lag a cheap stock index fund…

Then there is Chicago, the most reliably Democratic stronghold of the heartland’s cities with a mayoralty that enjoys more inherent institutional power than almost any other.

There, the administration of Democratic stalwart Rahm Emanuel has used that power to initiate one of American history’s largest mass closures of public schools and layoff hundreds of teachers. During Emanuel’s tenure, public workers’ retirement savings were invested with financial firms whose executives have bankrolled Emanuel’s political apparatus. Emanuel’s administration also reportedly oversaw a police dark site where suspects were allegedly imprisoned without charge – and the Democratic mayor’s appointees infamously blocked the release of a videotape of Chicago police gunning down an unarmed African American teenager.

With the city subsequently suffering an explosion of gun violence, racial strife and economic inequality, Democratic donors responded by lavishing Emanuel with massive campaign contributions and Democratic voters reelected him. When Hizzoner later announced his retirement amid the trial over the police shooting, Emanuel was immediately lauded as a great hero by the most famous face of the Democratic party, Barack Obama.

After reciting a long litany of betrayals, Sirota lists the progressive candidates who are upending the Democratic party.

These progressive challengers and others like them have each run unique campaigns, but all have embodied the core belief that anti-Trump rhetoric alone is not an adequate response to the emergencies at hand. Democrats’ record in liberal states and liberal cities over the last decade makes a strong case that they are correct – and so now the revolution is on.

That may bewilder the Democrats’ permanent political class that has gotten used to steamrolling the public, losing elections and still remaining in charge of the party – but, really, the only confusing thing about this uprising is that it took this long to finally ignite.

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