Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Restoring Democracy in the Democratic Party is Necessary to Save Our Republic

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Not long ago, Deborah Wassermann Shultz and the DNC boasted that Democratic super delegates buffer the Democratic Party leadership from capricious grassroots influence. Make no mistake, this was a boast, not an admission. Behind it is a fear that popular movement activists might upset the balance between wealthy donors who fund the Party and the needs of middle-class Americans, which is the largest voting bloc. But representing the middle-class leaves a lot of worthy American's without political representation.

Consider this, the U.N. is investigating poverty and civil right violations in areas of the United States that are on par with what can be found seen in 3rd world nations. Extremely insensitive GOP policies and attitudes are among the root causes of extreme systemic poverty. No where are the consequences more dire than in some red states in the South dominated by extreme conservative politics. In one poor neighborhood in Alabama under investigation by the United Nations, for example, ringworm is epidemic from contaminated drinking water. The reason is that waste water is being carried away in above ground PVC pipes that empty into open sewerage pits and even fields where children play. The Republican leaders don't seem to care about sanitation for these folks. In the eyes of many conservative politicians the poor have only themselves to blame. Leaders there allocate no money to help those who have no money to fix their septic tanks. These are the unworthy poor.

It is the GOP that does most of the dirty work of stripping the social safety nets and public services of government funding. The money saved pays for tax cuts and sweetheart deals to wealthy corporations and their owners. These perks for business are rewarded with campaign donations and sometimes other, more corrupt, remunerations.

Democratic leaders are mostly silent about the poverty conditions in red states, and have been for years. These poor people aren't registered Democrats. They can't help Democrats get elected and can't donate to the Party. This is how Democratic leaders feel about the poor in general. Party leaders have become ever more focused on races where the Party has the best chances of winning, and corporate donations are all that is needed to secure a victory. But these corporate donations also come with strings attached. Business interests must be served. Regulations and consumer protections must be rescinded to boost corporate profits. Tax breaks for the wealthy must be provided in exchange for their support, and government services must be cut to make up for lost revenue.

This is an aspect of party over people. It is neoloberalism in action. Neoliberalism is devoid of any compassion or social justice for those who cannot compete in the market place. Neoliberals ascribe human rights to business entities and work to free corporations from restrictive government rules designed to protect and empower actual human beings. Neoliberal Democrats have given lip service to the needs of the middle-class for decades without ever mentioning the deteriorating conditions of the poor and the working class over the past 30 years. They run on prosperity platforms that emphasize job creation rather than wealth creation for middle-class families. They stress ways to boost business profits to create good paying jobs, but then don't hold businesses accountable when those jobs never materialize. They turn a blind eye when the wealthy hide their profits in off shore tax havens, and the list goes on. Neoliberals in both parties continue to promote failed policy ideas because they can't offend their business donors. So for all of us, silence is consent! Our hands are just as dirty if we aren't willing to speak out and advocate for ourselves and for those who have no voice in government.

Right now, the Republican Party is a lost cause while the Democratic Party is too focused on the tic tock of strategic planning to hear the cries of the needy. Both parties are badly in need of reform. The over representation of business interests (ownership class) over civil interests is at the core of the destructive neoliberal philosophy shared by leadership in both parties. I am a life-long Democrat. It is clear that the DNC and the State Democratic Parties must come to accept that populism IS what democracy looks like. If you do right by all the people you have nothing to fear from populist activism. Don't just cut the number of super-delegates, eliminate them and restore democracy.

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