by Richardt Stormsgaard
Two unique American problems are that too many Americans have racist and sexist inclinations. The Civil and Voting Rights legislation that liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans established in the 1960s created a strong back-lash when more rights and opportunities were extended to minorities. This led to many millions of white Americans working-class voters voting against their own interests, leading to the ascendancy of the right-wing. The other huge problem is that we have an election system that is quite irreconcilable with the one person – one vote principle of true democracy, effectively giving much more political power to older, whiter, more conservative voters.
There have always been conflicts between the coastal/urban voters and the more moderate rural and suburban voters, but after the presidential candidates and the party platform are chosen at the end of the national convention, there ought to be strong effort to reconcile behind the winner because the alternative is much worse.
Often this has not happened and that has contributed to the fact that within half a century the U.S. has gone from being the envy of the rest of the world to now being the one advanced country where lower income individuals have become poorer, not richer, as they have in all other advanced, democratic countries. (2018 World Income Inequality Report)
McCarthy and furious anti-war protesters blamed Humphrey in 1968 for the Vietnam War. Nixon won, and 20,000 more American lives were needlessly lost along with many hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese in the war Humphrey would have ended had he become president.
In 1980, Ted Kennedy challenged Carter despite his long list of major accomplishments. Kennedy insisted on a national health care plan in a time of run-away inflation and refused to accept the win of the more moderate Carter and his proposal to establish a very similar version to our current ACA. Had Kennedy backed Carter we might have gotten an earlier version of the ACA in the early 1980s and avoided the Reagan era. Years later Ted Kennedy mused, “Where is the Carter health care plan now that we really need it?”
In 2000, 100,000 Floridians voted for Ralph Nader and the Green Party, leading to the Bush win. We got the Iraq War, the 2007-7 Financial Meltdown, and Supreme Court justices Alito and Roberts who were instrumental in the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2013 elimination of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Millions of voters in Democratic districts in Republican states were prevented from voting in the 2016 election that Hilary Clinton would have won by a landslide of likely 4 to 5 million votes more than Trump. We now have two additional right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, and we can fully expect our social safety net, civil and voting rights, and environmental laws to be dismantled bit by bit.
After the disaster of the Bush presidency, Obama won in 2008, but Democratic dominance was broken just two years later in the 2010 midterm elections. The election of a black president led to a huge backlash, as the Tea Party was born. Even so, Obama’s accomplishments were huge. The ACE was established, $60 billion invested as part of the Stimulus Package which got green energy industries off the ground in this country and almost 10% tax hikes on higher incomes are just a few examples. As much as the right-wing disliked Obama and his programs, the far-left was not much better with the constant refrain that Obama did not do enough and was a profound failure.
The main problem has never been the liberal/moderate Democrats that established our progressive legislation, nor even the corporate interests in recent years controlling Republican politicians. The combination of Americans voting against their own better interests and an undemocratic election system have been at the root of the demise of our democracy.
And where there is a real glimmer of hope like the 2018 midterm election wins with massive Democratic wins in the American heartland, showing the obvious and clear path to winning the Presidency and the Senate in 2020, the predictable attacks from the far-left follow. Mr. Chakrabarti, leader of the Justice Democrats and the alleged “brain” behind AOC, accused Sharice Davids, a Native American gay woman who beat a four-term Republican incumbent in a deep-red district in Kansas, of being a “racist segregationist” because her vote on the humanitarian relief package. My humble guess is that Ms. Davids has had more experience with real racism and sexism than the airheads in the fantasy world of the far left.
The division has worsened. Bernie Sanders’ effort supported by right-wing and left-wing media to revive universally failed Marxist mythology has spread to both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, two very promising and inspirational candidates who, if nominated, will need to backtrack greatly to have any chance in a national election. Americans and particularly those that bother to even vote do not see inequality as a major issue in their lives. 70+% say the economy is doing great. 70+% say the federal government is a larger problem that corporations. And the vast number of employees in the dozens of assembly plants and factories that have started up in the last decade or so have voted against joining unions.
Sharice Davids, like 33 out of 40 Democrats who flipped seats in Republican districts to the House of Representatives, had beaten out primary opponents on her left, and she won because she ran on issues like improved health care and more investments in education and infrastructure, and protecting our social safety net against Republican attacks. They did not run on deep restructuring of American society that will require huge tax increases and will be met with massive resistance from large important sectors of our society, both public and private.