The Flawed Strategy Of Dependence On A Political Party

Discussing why taxes on the rich have not been raised by this Democratic government, Kevin Drum writes:

Soaking the rich isn't the electoral loser I made it out to be. So then the question becomes: why is Congress unable to reform the estate tax, which affects only the very tippy top of the super rich? Why are negotiations over the carried interest loophole, which affects only zillionaire hedge fund managers, retreating from 100% repeal to 75% repeal to 65% repeal? The answer, of course, lies primarily in the ideology of the Republican Party, aided and abetted by the ideology of "centrist" Democrats, which is strong enough to overcome public sentiment. So then, how about this question instead: Americans apparently are sympathetic to higher taxes on the rich, but equally apparently, [. . . t]hey don't care enough, anyway, to sway their elected representatives much. How come?

My answer? Because progressives and moderates are too dependent on the Democratic Party to fight for policies they believe in. In terms of a progressive agenda, the Democratic Party is a failure. Activists and citizens must hold their distance from the Democratic Party and understand they are not your advocates or your friends. Yes, my old refrain.

Speaking for me only

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    Ehhhh (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:24:51 PM EST
    I still think the Democratic party is the only realistic vehicle for the changes we need. Now, how to force the party in that direction? That's hard.

    That's a different point (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:28:38 PM EST
    My point is that the Democratic Party is not your champion, so you must consider ways to make them your champion.

    Depending on them to be your champion is folly.


    OK, I agree completely with that (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:30:48 PM EST
    That's always been my point (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:44:27 PM EST
    I'm no 3rd Party person.

    My goal, if I was an activist, would be to normalize the idea that every pol should be primaried, good or bad.


    Normalizing the idea (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 10:07:27 PM EST
    of making it clear to them that they'll be rewarded at the polls only for progressive results produced (if any) and otherwise lose their support base, instead of voting for promises or out of fear of republicans, as the way to deal with incumbent dems might help to encourage those results...

    You just seemed to be saying it (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:45:42 PM EST
    in a different way.

    Sadly (none / 0) (#22)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 10:29:45 AM EST
    i think the problem is structural- there's a reason almost no other country in the world followed the American (as opposed to the parliamentary model) for legislative structure- add in the archaic first past the post voting system- and you get a world where its often impossible to advocate for true change because the system is dominated by entrenched interests and you're almost never going to win 50% +1 over to an emerging issue/cause.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by squeaky on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 12:11:17 PM EST
    Not sure that is the problem, although it would be nice to have some people representing my POV in government. But, look at GB, do you think that they get "true change"....  tony "poodle" blair?

    Seems to me the issue is more about power, than representation.



    Thirty years of being a Democrat (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:37:51 AM EST
    has taught me first hand it is not the vehicle you believe it to be.  The past 18 months has crystallized this, however unfortunate and regrettable, as the only logical conclusion.

    Keep (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:38:25 PM EST
    voting them out every election season for one.

    I'm all about primaries (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:40:25 PM EST
    But I think the other side is that you have to be willing to take your lumps and vote for Blanche Lincoln at the end of the day. I would.

    I'm undecided on that type (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:51:35 PM EST
    of thing. I'm no nader purist but I'm not sure if voting for Lincoln is the right thing at the end of the day. I would have had a hard time voting for Specter in PA after his behavior during the Bush administration. I guess I'll just have to take that kind of thing on a case by case basis. I mean if I only agree with them 20% of the time why bother?

    Well, 20% is better than 0% (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:53:19 PM EST
    and is better than letting the Republicans control the chamber.

    I could imagine situations where the general rule would give way, but they would be few and far between.


    Well (none / 0) (#18)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 08:25:18 AM EST
    if she was running against someone like Johnny Isakson who I also agree with about 20% of the time then you're back to the old just voting against the GOP which has brought us to where we are now.

    Which is how Specter could have possibly (none / 0) (#23)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 10:34:03 AM EST
    gotten my vote if I lived in PA (in the general only )- if he'd been up against Santorum level nut, and though Toomey is odious its debatable whether he's that odious- note: this is only for legislative elections for an executive be they a governor or president I'd have voted him in over the other guy because the power concentration isn't diluted by others thus a horrible options impact is magnified. (its what the Bush = Gore people never got- even if Bush wasn't Bush, but was Gore-lite, he still would have been an unacceptable risk because President's while not omnipotent do have power).

    Exactly, andgarden (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by christinep on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 09:04:47 PM EST
    Think about how we stay with things, projects, relationships in which we believe. We all know it...its almost trite to state it...yet, I need to remind myself from time to time that it is necessary to work unceasingly for something in which I believe.  Sometimes we have an exciting (or different) election, and lots of people get involved, and then when things don't change in a short while, we want to turn away. Why do some treat a political disappointment like a failed short-lived love affair? Politics, like so many experiences, consists of one step forward with a half-step sideways followed by one backward and then--yea!--two paces forward.

    There's a lot of lint in that there navel! (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Ellie on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 03:20:11 AM EST
    Why do some treat a political disappointment like a failed short-lived love affair?

    'cause it involves being badly screwed and was totally not worth it?

    Politics, like so many experiences, consists of one step forward with a half-step sideways followed by one backward and then--yea!--two paces forward.

    Okey dokey ... no more boxed wine coolers for you.


    How cute, Ellie (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by christinep on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 12:14:53 PM EST
    Yep, I did have some wine. But, it was a good Shiraz (Rosemont.) And, no, I haven't had the misfortune of the misbegotten affair to which you allude.

    So the lecture calibrating 'our' feelings (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Ellie on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 12:28:47 PM EST
    ... wasn't almost trite but solidly nailed in one go. Good for you!

    Why? (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:23:24 AM EST
    If she is re-elected she will continue to tug the Dems ever rightward.  If she loses Dems do not have to cater to her, maybe insteasd they have to cater to Franken and Sanders.

    Even is she makes a majority what good is it if she refuses to let Dems use it for progressive goals?


    Life involves compromise and (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by christinep on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 12:17:23 PM EST
    so does politics. Why? Because "cutting off your nose to spite your face" doesn't feel too good (speaking only of my own experience.)

    Dems are an improved party (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 01:06:40 PM EST
    without her, more inclined to pursue progressive objectives.  She does more harm from within the caucus than Boozman will do from outside.

    Her work on derivatives (none / 0) (#36)
    by MKS on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 01:16:41 PM EST
    Perhaps getting challenged by itself will help....

    It does seem to me that she is toast in the general anyway.....and that could be a lesson too.


    Many issue arguments depend on (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ZtoA on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 09:29:17 PM EST
    general perception and therefore are affected by media. GOP has worked for over 20 years now to "own" radio. It was smart. The common perception several years ago was that the left would "own" the internet but it has not played out that way since it cannot really be controlled by ownership (in the literal meaning of the word.)

    I think third parties are ONE, not the only, way to demand a political party keep up with the times. We still have a sort of intact legal system, so that is another. Another way is investigative reporting. That is what is happening now with the BP disaster, since it appears that BP and the government are lying and the news is breaking. Slowly and relentlessly and oppressively breaking.  

    Political parties (both!!) when they are comfortable become corrupt - the village is a hair's breath away from corrupt cronyism - crosses back and forth - tough to pin down. Hey, I was raised in Chicago. But it happens anywhere that the parties take their power for granted. In many ways we citizens are powerless, except for our vote (assuming it is not stolen) and therefore a vote out of party lines or a non-vote or a third party vote IS a way to affect policy. threats to do so (aka polls) might be effective/affective too.

    I don't agree with Kevin that the problem (5.00 / 7) (#14)
    by Anne on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 10:27:15 PM EST
    is that we don't care enough to sway our representatives; we've lit up their phone lines, blasted them with faxes, filled up their In-Boxes, visited their home offices - we are speaking, we are committed, involved, informed and determined.  To no avail.

    Our representatives are conducting the business of the nation as if we aren't even there; every major issue undertaken in the last 18 months has taken a path that diverged from the one the public wanted them - and our president - to take.  And the response, time and again, was some lame reason that should have embarrassed them, but instead seems to have emboldened them.

    We aren't even on their radar, unless they want money or a vote, and it's getting to the point where they've dispensed with most of the foreplay - the schtick that made us believe they cared - in favor of the very unsatisfying slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am, hit-and-run, love-'em-and-leave-'em, to get the money, or the vote.  After which, they go back to ignoring us and doing what they want.

    I'm willing to be an involved citizen, but I'm no longer willing to take the blame from people like Kevin Drum, or the ridiculous Booman, for being the reason why things don't happen the way we want them to; for reasons that make no sense to me, the bar for us - the people - keeps being raised higher and higher by access bloggers who can't stand to rock the boat by placing the blame where it really belongs, while they simultaneously lower the bar for the president and the Congress, and daily find and create excuses that simply defy credulity.

    The Democratic Party, as an institution, is not the answer, clearly; it has been reinvented for reasons that have little to do with governance and representation and everything to do with money, power and self-aggrandizement.

    If we've really gotten to the point where we are voting for candidates with whom we agree as little as 20% of the time, just because it is still greater than 0% of the time, we're just rewarding them for ignoring us, giving them reasons to keep playing their game, and guaranteeing that the downward spiral will continue.

    This administration's attempts (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 09:19:10 AM EST
    to hush up the spill and continue to lobby for more drilling last week has iced my cake on how emboldened they are.  Sarah Palin is no king maker...I am

    And (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by jbindc on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 09:54:53 AM EST
    We apparently turned down international help:

    Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.

    It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.

    The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: "The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, `Thanks, but no thanks,'" said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

    Now, almost seven weeks later, as the oil spewing from the battered well spreads across the Gulf and soils pristine beaches and coastline, BP and our government have reconsidered.


    The uncoordinated response to an offer of assistance has become characteristic of this disaster's response. Too often, BP and the government don't seem to know what the other is doing, and the response has seemed too slow and too confused.

    Federal law has also hampered the assistance. The Jones Act, the maritime law that requires all goods be carried in U.S. waters by U.S.-flagged ships, has prevented Dutch ships with spill-fighting equipment from entering U.S. coastal areas.

    "What's wrong with accepting outside help?" Visser asked. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands."

    Even if, three days after the rig exploded, it seemed as if the Dutch equipment and expertise wasn't needed, wouldn't it have been better to accept it, to err on the side of having too many resources available rather than not enough?

    BP has been inundated with well-intentioned cleanup suggestions, but the Dutch offer was different. It came through official channels, from a government offering to share its demonstrated expertise.

    Many in the U.S., including the president, have expressed frustration with the handling of the cleanup. In the Netherlands, the response would have been different, Visser said.

    There, the government owns the cleanup equipment, including the skimmers now being deployed in the Gulf.

    "If there's a spill in the Netherlands, we give the oil companies 12 hours to react," he said.

    If the response is inadequate or the companies are unprepared, the government takes over and sends the companies the bill.

    Landrieu from Wheezy: Drill, Barry, Drill (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ellie on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 12:47:07 PM EST
    Vid from GMA. (via HuffiPron)

    Nice to wholeheartedly agree with you (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:17:06 AM EST
    the sooner progressives stop supporting the Administration and Congressional Democrats the sooner those Democrats have to work for and earn regaining progressive support.

    As for me, after the least 18 months, I will forego voting rather than vote for a Democrat again. I would make the effort to vote if a  Green or Scoialist candidate is on the ballot.  The past 18 months have taught me that the specter of a GOP return to power is no longer that motivating a factor when Democrats govern exclusively on behalf of corporations and the most well off too.

    There is always... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:32:39 AM EST
    ...always a Green, Socialist, and Libertarian on the ticket to vote for. Every election these parties have a candidate...sometimes they also have presidential debates, which btw are ten times more illuminating and entertaining than the dreary Dem-Rep ones.

    Not in state elections (none / 0) (#29)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:39:15 AM EST
    there sometimes are but not always, here in KY not even typically.

    ok BTD, i'll buy that. (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 10:38:04 PM EST
    any suggestions as to a legitimately viable option?

    The most telling quote (none / 0) (#17)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 07:48:01 AM EST
    The answer, of course, lies primarily in the ideology of the Republican Party, aided and abetted by the ideology of "centrist" Democrats, which is strong enough to overcome public sentiment.

    'Overcome public sentiment'...as in voting in opposition to what the constituency wants. Which should be answered by impeachment; it shouldn't have to wait for the next election.

    Why I am ambivalent about... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 08:59:00 AM EST
    raising taxes on the rich...it's simple, look at who will get that cash and how it ends up getting spent. Word on the street is it only gets funneled back to the fat cats anyway, so why freakin' bother with the paperwork?

    We need a vastly new government before we need higher taxes on anybody.


    Social Security, Medicare, Defense, Highways (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by MKS on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 01:36:07 PM EST
    ....that is where most of the money goes....

    And we need government to regulate industry....The Rand Paul idea that we should just let BP be BP in the Gulf shows the limits of Libertarianism.

    If Republicans ever give up on social issues, they could become the Libertarian party.....but I doubt it.....Republicans toss out Libertarian lingo only when it helps their agenda....on economic issues like taxes...


    "We'll pretend to raise taxes (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by jondee on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 01:41:44 PM EST
    on the rich (us), and you pretend to be absolutely  irate about it.."? (with lots of fulminating and cutting-up in front of the cameras for the folks at home.)

    Since the great post-WWII purge made it virtually illegal to publicly discuss "bipartisan" class interest, this is the charade we're left with..


    And what has changed for your efforts? (none / 0) (#25)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:20:23 AM EST
    The governance of this country continues to get worse and worse and Democratic leaders are just as responsible.

    So, since we are "friends" of yours (none / 0) (#37)
    by MKS on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 01:26:20 PM EST
    do we get anything?

    I love your t.v. commercial....

    Commenting on a blog may give the appearance of contributing....but I am not so sure....

    I can say that knocking on doors in Las Vegas was actually a lot of fun.  People were really nice--you're not asking them for money or to join your religion....

    People were nicer in person than on the phone.  Phonebanking for Martha Cocoa Leaves was interesting.  I got all kinds of responses.  The Boston accents were very cool.  I had one older guy who interrupted me by saying, "We're Americans here, you called Americans!  Coakley sucks!" and then hung up.  And he was a Democrat--this was a GOTV effort the weekend before the election.  I was glad he hung up because I started to laugh and that would have been really bad....

    You know, part of what is reflected in Kevin's (none / 0) (#40)
    by masslib on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 10:18:18 PM EST
    observations has nothing what so ever to do with voter choice or preference or whether or not they "don't care enough" to sway their elected officials.  It's directly related to how vast the wealth gap has grown and particularly the decline of labor unions.  In other words, voters don't have the voice they once had.  Where are they going to turn?  How do mere individuals organize to push the Democrats toward legislating populist economic policies without a great organizing force like big labor of the past?  It's extremely hard.  My point is what Drum is observing has a lot less to do with voter apathy, than it does with voters simply not having a very big megaphone and very little choice.  Look at the last couple of election cycles.  Voters did what they could.  They voted for the Democrats.  The Democrats turned around and gave them the finger on economic policy.  Why?  Because they can.  Rank and file Democratic voters have very little power because of their lost organizing position and as a result of their declining wealth status.