Last week I stated that the Democrats are not the party of the Left. Instead, their job is to prevent a real party of the Left from coming to power. To put it in crude sexual terms–they are a cock-block.
This should be readily apparent to any observer after the last two Democratic primary cycles, where the DNC ensured that Bernie Sanders and his enthusiastic supporters were denied the nomination. It should also be apparent that no matter what Democratic voters think–and most of them like the policies proposed by Bernie Sanders–elite Democrats and the DNC oppose them both with an organized vigor they rarely deploy in their partisan battles with the Republicans. Instead the Democrats modus operandi remains unchanged: expend political capital on social issues while enriching their wealthy patrons with the added bonus of being wealthy, liberal, and sanctimonious.
The Covid pandemic is graphically illustrating what happens to a middle-class society when the party of the left decides it doesn’t want to be a party of the left anymore. That has been as consequential for our society as has the Republicans becoming reactionaries. I’m pretty sure they’re connected. As Republicans become more radical, the Democrats concede more and become in the process the other party of the elite. So now we have two parties of the elite in this country.
What’s amusing is the subterfuge of this arrangement. Republican elite portray the Democrats to their base as socialists or even communists, while Democratic elite portray the Republicans to their base as racist-authoritarians, when in reality both parties elite are composed of corporatists. What’s not amusing is that this method of governing basically gave us Donald Trump.
That they are like this is no longer a mystery, the question is what are we going to do about it?
The issue here is power. As I’ve stated here before–politics is about who gets what and who bears the costs of these policies. There used to be space for incremental progressive change, via politics. Today, there is not. Today the power relationship has changed to where they have all the power while we have none. All the hue and cry of our so-called political process is kayfabe, designed to lull us into the belief that we have some semblance of power. Unfortunately, we have none. The brutal reality is that the US has become a state where only a tiny elite, a de facto plutocratic oligarchy, rules.
The human consequences of Left powerlessness are becoming more visible every day, and recent reporting from the Washington Post underscores just how dire the situation has become.
According to a recent analysis by the paper, more Americans are currently going hungry than at any point in at least the past twenty-two years (1998 being the first year the Census Bureau started collecting the relevant data). According to a Census Bureau survey conducted in late October and early November, one out of every eight people reported not having enough to eat “sometimes or often” throughout the past week. Widespread hunger is now affecting some 26 million American adults, and the bureau’s top-line figure narrows to one in six in households with children.
I’ve been rereading Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, where he lays out the dangers of unregulated capitalism and great concentrations of wealth. He demonstrates that as income inequality grows, so does social unrest and populism. The threat of fascism increases exponentially. In Polanyi’s view, the fascist impulse stems from society attempting to protect itself from the market by sacrificing human freedom.
Abolitionist Fredrick Douglas said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.
He also said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”