“I’ve been a Democrat for over forty years–but no more,” begins an all too common response to an online polling question posed to progressives about what party (if any) respondents identify with.
“Turning down Keith Ellison as DNC chair proves they don’t want to change their corporate ways, so it’s goodbye and good riddance from me.” Another commentator stated, “Either the Democrats reform into a progressive party or they will be en route to the dustbin of history. Hello Whigs.”
These voters are not alone in their disdain of the modern Democratic Party. Other respondents gave similar answers, some not quite so polite in their phrasing. A deep sense of betrayal is a common theme. “The Dems ceased to be the party of FDR and the working class as soon as he was cold in the grave,” is another often-repeated riposte, as is, “They became ‘Republican-lite’ in the ’90s and have never gone back, so neither will I.”
Many union supporters expressed the opinion that they no longer find a warm welcome in Democratic Party circles, if they’re not willing to write checks to the DNC for large amounts. They feel they’ve received very little consideration for all the time, money, and effort they’ve given to the party over the years. In spite of their support for a party which is supposedly “pro-union,” their jobs have been outsourced overseas. They’ve witnessed two Democratic presidents support NAFTA, the TPP, and other trade agreements which favor CEOs’ golden parachutes over workers’ wages and keeping jobs in the United States.
Issues which affect struggling Americans and their families are seen to have taken a backseat to giving perks to corporations by the DNC. Sanders surrogate, former State Senator Nina Turner of Ohio, has stated that the Democratic Party is no longer the “party of everyday people.” “The Pharma 13”–thirteen Democratic senators who voted against Bernie Sanders’ bill to lower prescription drug prices the first time it was introduced– is given as an example of how out of touch the Democratic Party is with what is important to ordinary Americans. “How are we supposed to believe the Dems are for the ‘little guy’ if all they do is throw big fundraisers with corporate lobbyists and give paid speeches to Wall Street banksters?” remarks one observant progressive. “Some even approve of Trump’s outrageous cabinet appointees.”
More and more, ordinary voters do not see themselves mirrored in the Democratic Party, particularly its leadership. Former DNC chairs Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s and Donna Brazile’s actions to rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders in favor of their chosen candidate Hillary Clinton (as revealed in Wikileaks’ postings of DNC emails) left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Responses when asked to why they don’t support the Democratic Party express anger over how justice was not served when the DNC chose not to punish Schultz or Brazile for their unethical behaviors.
Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, as the new DNC chair, is seen as the perfect puppet for the party’s “corporate wing.” Bernie Sanders recommended progressive Congressman Keith Ellison for the chairman’s position and, then, President Obama (a supporter of the TPP) tapped Perez on the shoulder and asked him to run against Ellison. Almost immediately after taking the chairmanship, Perez overturned the “Obama rule” of not accepting large donations by lobbyists. “If Perez even knows what it means to be ‘progressive,’ then I have some swampland in New Mexico to sell you,” sums up one respondent’s sentiment.
Will the latest attempt to change the DNC from the inside to a more progressive party catch on? Similar to the “Berniecrats,” who ran for office in November 2016, the “Justice Democrats” are progressive challengers running to take back seats at all levels of government. The real question many progressives have is whether these candidates will be allowed to go unchallenged by “corporate Dems.”
“The money and the organization go with the person who kisses up the most to leadership. They’ll leave the progressive candidate out to dry,” is the common consensus of how well Justice Democrats will do when faced with corporate Dem challengers. Some note that “progressives who want to run for office should join the Green Party because there they will be welcomed with open arms.”
Unless Bernie Sanders or others start a new third party which appeals to progressive voters, then joining the Green Party could be the best route for these progressive candidates. The Democratic Party seems to have lost its way–and many of its supporters–and its recent actions give no indication they desire to be the party of “FDR and the working class” ever again. The hashtags #DemExit and #GreenEnter are trending for a very good reason. Progressives, who see the end of the Democratic Party, are jumping ship and setting sail with a party going their way, the Greens.
Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues blog: http://bernie2016.blogspot.com.