Why hasn’t a left-wing populist party arisen in the US in the wake of the Wall Street crash and bail-out by the government? Why have labor unions, environmentalists, racial and ethnic minorities not created an alternative to the fully corporate Democratic Party? Why have activists shied away from the central issue of our milieu–rampant inequality brought about by the financialization of our economy?
For all the talk about the US as the “exceptional democracy” there’s an elephant in the room. You can’t have meaningful “democracy” in a nation where the top tenth of the upper 1 Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
The issues certainly exist for the rise of a genuinely left-wing, labor party to represent the millions of Americans who’ve been disenfranchised by our two party duopoly, as the enthusiastic rallies and record amounts of small donations for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election can attest. The austerity, the mounting student and consumer debt, the privatization and hollowing out of essential government services are all deeply unpopular.
The question of our time, one that we should be asking at every opportunity is–what kind of society allows this sort of fate to befall its citizens?
To answer this question is to understand the means by which our elite maintain their control, by dividing and ruling, making sure that we live in a society where social solidarity does not exist. Right now there is a sullen anger, percolating below the surface of polite society, that erupts sporadically with the mass shootings that have become a hallmark of American life.
If there’s any hope of avoiding a dystopian future where this sort of violence escalates then we need a real opposition party not a faux-opposition party like the Democrats who are caught between what Democratic activists want and what the donor class wants, as journalist David Sirota relates.
“Well I mean, you’ve got to ask the question why hasn’t there been more of a forceful, coherent policy resistance to Trump? I think it’s because the Democratic Party is constantly caught between knowing what it should do to win elections, which is propose a positive policy vision on issues that are popular. They’re caught between that and their donor class, and so there is this constant search by Democratic operatives and pundits and politicians to try to find on the Venn diagram, some middle ground. “Where can we satisfy the public and also appease our donors?” That crossover in the Venn diagram is getting narrower and narrower because what the public wants is becoming in direct opposition to what the donor class wants.”
This dilemna represents why Bernie Sanders was so threatening to the powers-that-be controlling the Democratic Party.
Sirota.“… you can run competitive campaigns with a completely different paradigm, where you don’t have to answer to a donor class, and which frees you to run on issues that are wildly popular with the public. In fact, in the last election what we saw was that the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, if forced to choose, would choose the Democratic Party losing to a Republican rather than winning with a socialist, or somebody who was a true progressive.”
Come on down–Donald Trump.
Sirota also makes an interesting point that fleshes out some of what I’ve been thinking about the recent election, where the best thing about Trump’s victory was the fact that he awakened somnolent Americans to the political world that we live in.
“Does resistance to Trump just become a slogan, a pop culture slogan that doesn’t mean anything? Yeah, it’s possible, and that goes back to what we were talking about originally, which is that a resistance that’s devoid of any meaning other than “Anybody but Trump,” if the resistance is, “Anybody but Trump,” or, “Anything but Trump,” then it I think misses an opportunity of political awakening to actually make that political awakening mean something for the policies that will govern us for the next many decades.”
It’s time to get going. With President Trump and mean-spirited Republican Congress, things are only going to get worse.
If you need an example of what’s coming down the pike, look to our mother country–Great Britain, where the recent Grenfell Tower fire has exposed the Conservative government of Theresa May as cold and uncaring to the tragedy. Going further, the Grenfell disaster has finally brought into sharp focus what Thatcherism and neoliberalism, has done to our world. The 58 people who died in the preventable fire did so because of austerity, deregulation, outsourcing and greed.
We live in a political world
Love don’t have any place
We’re living in times
Where men commit crimes
And crime don’t have any face