By Richardt Stormsgaard
A common myth is that the Democratic Party has abandoned certain voter groups, and that this has either caused or contributed to the conservative ascendancy to power. The right-wing is ecstatic about this false narrative, and some groups on our left have adopted this idea as well. Though I generally agree with Bernie Sanders’s political views, I find the fact that he uses this falsehood deeply disturbing. He just had another Town Hall about Economic Inequality March 19 where major parts of the discussion involved trashing main stream liberal Democrats and major corporate donors rather than addressing the corporate right-wing take-over of our institutions as described in books like Dark Money by Jane Mayer and Democracy in Chains by Nancy McClean. These books give the truthful and accurate descriptions of what has been happening to our country and how it happened. Often the story lines of our left wing seem parallel and quite similar to those on the extreme right that now have propelled the Tea-Party/Trump Republicans to power in this country.
In my view the facts are quite the opposite. The Democratic Party, along with moderate Republicans, established civil and voting rights for minorities in the 1960’s, and conservative Republicans began developing the “Willie Horton” and the “welfare queen” stories in response. Their appeals to racism found fertile ground among two major democratic voter groups, Upper-Midwest and Southern blue collar Democrats. When the trickle-down-economics lie was developed during the Reagan years, previously reliable Democratic voter groups continued flocking to the Republican Party. The irony is that the American working class was the envy of the rest of the world at that time, but today lower income groups in dozens of countries around the world have surpassed their counterparts in the U.S. in health, financial security, and opportunity.
In other words, these groups have been themselves responsible for their demise when they began voting for a Republican Party with the main agenda of increasingly transferring wealth and opportunity away from average Americans to the very wealthy. If we take a look at other high income countries, it is a fact that all have prospered, high and low income groups both, in these last several decades, unlike the U.S.
We currently see huge assembly plants established by companies like Boeing, Nissan, GM, Kia, Volkswagen, and BMW where U.S. workers explicitly vote to not establish labor unions, embracing lower wages, poorer working conditions, and inadequate health and pension benefits.
I, for one, am proud that Democrats remained adamant about protecting the rights of minorities even while U.S. voters punished them for it. The attacks on main stream Democratic politicians, who have fought an uphill battle on behalf of all Americans against increasingly stronger right-wing voters and Republican politicians, are both very dishonest and dangerous. We can unfairly criticize the Clintons’ and Obama all we want, but their hands have been largely tied by the growing right-wing wave that now is putting our democracy in serious jeopardy.
Our huge loss in 1972 with another out-of-the-mainstream presidential candidate was not historically catastrophic because the Republican Party still generally had the best interests of Americans at heart. This is not the case today. For the first time ever, the 2016 Republican Party Platform has introduced the notion of drawing up a new Constitution that would permanently savage civil and voting rights for many groups and reduce or eliminate most of our administrative state, reestablishing a society under the thumbs of modern-day robber barons. They only need to win two more states to accomplish this through a constitutional convention.
Luckily, the many 2017 elections on both state and local levels have been very promising, and it appears that voters are finally realizing the extent of right-wing degeneracy, the outright racism and sexism, the commitment to eliminate our social safety net, civil rights and voting rights for some groups, and the stench of the corruption from deep within the right-wing Republican Party that has been building for decades.
This should give us hope for the future, but we need to be careful not to place our hopes on messages that are too far to the left. Republicans may be able to avoid being held responsible for their many misdeeds by playing the socialist card, the powerful lie that has been the engine behind their savaging of the Democratic Party for the last half century. According to a Gallup Poll published in early January 2017, 67% of Americans believe the federal government is our biggest threat, and needs to be curbed. Only about 26% believe it is big business, even though we are on the brink of becoming an effective oligarchy with powerful business interests controlling the Republican Party and our political system.