What has happened to the Democrat Party of the past? Why has it morphed so far to the Left that past Democrat Presidents like Bill Clinton would be considered too “far right” for the vocal Party leaders. Why did the DNC Chairman recently say that the Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed socialist and recent primary winner was the Party’s “wave of the future”?
SUMMARY OF DEMOCRAT PARTY HISTORY TO EMERGENCE OF “CHANGE”
It would be helpful to trace the Democrat Party’s roots to today to see the overall pattern and the emergence of nascent ideologies of the last century, heretofore cloaked or veiled for obvious reasons, to the forefront.
The Democrat Party in the early 1800’s was dominant in the South with the farmers and slave owners. The Republican Party, named after republicanism, a major ideology of the American Revolution, was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists and economic modernizers. Originally, the GOP subscribed to classical liberalism with ideological stands that were anti-slavery and pro-economic reform.
Major changes in the Democratic Party started under President Roosevelt. As part of his programs designed to pull the country out of the Great Depression, he created massive social welfare systems which had many purposes including setting up systems for what he and his Party saw as forms of “economic slavery” and which would build a long term voter base that would continue to perpetually support the Democrat Party. President Johnson further built on this foundation.
To me, President Clinton was an anomaly in that he was much more politically pragmatic and centrist through working with the GOP/Speaker Gingrich and “triangulating” positions to reach areas of compromise.
Major shifts in the Democrat Party toward the Left of President Clinton, along with associated increases in “antagonist” politics, started during President Bush presidency and culminated in a very aggressive Congress in 2006 under Senate Majority Reid and Speaker Pelosi.
This period coincided with similar movements in the much of the main stream media where liberalism produced more one sided and biased reporting. Next came the Obama Presidency built on his background of racial and social ideologies, Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and “Change to America.” President Obama’s years were characterized by even bigger Government Social Programs which further expanded on the Roosevelt/Johnson vision of economic slavery and long term voter base. To many, it was obvious that the significant growth in the numbers of immigrants, both legal and illegal, during President Obama’s Administration was based on visions of long term Democrat voters attached to the commensurate government welfare/supporting programs.
Hillary Clinton was supposed to be Obama’s heir and it was expected that she would readily carry on his leftist policies as both he and she were strong Alinski followers. In fact, she had received strong accolades and a job offer from Alinsky when she graduated college with her final thesis on him, who she apparently held in high esteem. Whereas Bernie Sanders, a Progressive/Socialist, was her Democratic challenger he had virtually little chance as she locked up her nomination with a year’s preparation of Superdelegates. In spite of her Superdelegates, Sanders was still a very formidable opponent and attracted a very strong following with the youth who loved his extremism and social programs/”freebees.”
Tags like “Progressive” and “Socialists” periodically emerged, especially during the early parts of the 20th century, but they were conscientiously buried by Democrats, especially during the era of concerns of “Communism”. Instead, “liberalism” was the key descriptor as the Party built its programs and base.
I suggest that Obama, Hillary and Bernie opened the flood gates and allowed democrats to safely “come out of the closet” as avowed progressives or socialists.
WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and some of the current Democrat candidates, including Stacy Abrams for Georgia Governor, Ocasio-Cortez for New York US Representative and Ben Jealous for Maryland Governor are all “Left of Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson” and radically so with some much more than others. I will leave it to the reader to rank these as to who is more socialist
It is even more discerning that they all have vast numbers of followers who are attuned to the divergence from the culture and society that America was founded on and, with some, even reminiscent of the mantras that were likely occurring during the early years of the Bolshevik revolution.
It would be beneficial to understand terminology of “Progressive” and “Socialist” to understand today’s Democrat Party and associated choices facing America
TERMINOLOGY- PROGRESSIVE AND SOCIALISM
“Progressive”- Karl Marx was concerned about the changes to the social class brought about by the industrialization. In the late 19th century, a political view was that progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor due to minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism along with conflicts between workers and the capitalists. In the United States, progressivism began as a social movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “The main belief was that problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism and class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated and believed that government could be a tool for change. American President Theodore Roosevelt of the Republican party and later the Progressive Party declared that he “always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand’” President Wilson was also a member of the American progressive movement within the Democratic Party. In succeeding years after Wilson, the Progressive Movement remained solely in the Democratic Party.
“Socialism”- This can be also be traced back to Karl Marx who described the “Social ownership and democratic control of the means of production.” By the late 19th century, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production. By the 1920s, social democracy and communism had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement. The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs in contrast to involvement with the labor movement and Marxism’s historical theory of class struggle. In the United States, the New Left was associated with the Hippie movement and anti-war college campus protest movements as well as the black liberation movements such as the Black Panther Party.
I may be wrong, but to me it is a matter of degree of extremism with “Socialist” being further Left than “Progressive” and both being further left than Democrat Party leadership pre Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson. (Again, I suggest that President Clinton is far too “middle of the road” to be considered by today’s Democrat Party)
RECENT AWAKENING OF DORMANT TIGER IN DEMOCRAT PARTY
Clearly, progressives and socialists have been in the Democrat Party since the early 1900’s with various degrees of visibility but certainly “low key” compared to recent “awakenings” under Bernie Sanders who demonstrated a high level of “acceptability” to the Party’s mainstream and may have beaten Hillary in the primary had she not “rigged the deck.” With Sanders, the term “progressive” was overtly used and accepted with the word “socialist” still hidden behind closed doors as “taboo.”
Socialist groups, like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) still existed and were growing under the radicalism of the Obama Administration with its many socialist tenets, including an expanded Government and Social Welfare programs along with increases in illegal immigrants of whom significant numbers were very poor and unskilled. The stage was set and the timing was right as the Democrats kept their movement of “economic slavery” and building a long term voter base alive and thriving.
The DSA is just one of the more recently prominent socialist organizations associated with the Democrat Party, including key principals working with the winning campaign of Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialists of America member.
Who is the DSA, what are their driving principles, how have they risen to a viable power in the Democrat Party including involvement in victories of socialists in recent primaries?
A quick examination of their principles will outline much of the mantra currently in vogue among the Left including recent winners in primary elections.
DEMOCRATS SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA (DSA)
The following is taken directly from their website and will encapsulate current socialist mantra of “democratic socialism” (emphasis added)
“Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few”
“Our vision entails nothing less than the radical democratization of all areas of life, not least of which is the economy. Under capitalism we are supposed to take for granted that a small, largely unaccountable group of corporate executives should make all fundamental decisions about the management of a company comprised of thousands of people. This group has the power to determine how most of us spend the lion’s share of our waking hours, as well as the right to fire anyone for basically any reason, no matter how arbitrary. Under democratic socialism, this authoritarian system would be replaced with economic democracy. This simply means that democracy would be expanded beyond the election of political officials to include the democratic management of all businesses by the workers who comprise them and by the communities in which they operate. Very large, strategically important sectors of the economy — such as housing, utilities and heavy industry — would be subject to democratic planning outside the market, while a market sector consisting of worker-owned and -operated firms would be developed for the production and distribution of many consumer goods. In this society, large-scale investments in new technologies and enterprises would be made on the basis of maximizing the public good, rather than shareholder value. Crucially, investments in renewable energy and efficient technologies would be prioritized to guarantee ecological sustainability and the future existence of life on Earth.”
“A democratic socialist society would also guarantee a wide range of social rights in order to ensure equality of citizenship for all. Vital services such as health care, child care, education (from pre-K through higher education), shelter and transportation would be publicly provided to everyone on demand, free of charge.”
“Further, in order to ensure that the enjoyment of full citizenship was not tied to ups and downs in the labor market, everyone would also receive a universal basic income — that is, a base salary for every member of society, regardless of the person’s employment status.”
“Finally, the work week would be gradually reduced and vacation time would be expanded to guarantee that everyone in society benefited from increasingly efficient technologies that decrease the overall amount of labor needed in the economy (and also to ensure that all who wish to find employment are able to do so).”
“Economic democracy would be complemented in the political sphere by a new system that combined an overhauled form of representative democracy (our current system) with direct democracy, a system in which individuals participate directly in the making of political decisions that affect them. In this system, the Senate (an extremely unrepresentative political body in which states with very small populations have the same level of representation as the most populous states) would be abolished, and a system of proportional representation would be established so that Congress actually reflects the political will of the electorate.”
“To give a few examples, the work of caregiving, which under capitalism falls disproportionately on women — particularly women of color and migrant women — would be publicly supported through universal daycare, eldercare and paid family leave.”
“The disgraceful use of prisons to regulate behavior (which disproportionately affects communities of color and the poor) would be replaced with a system that decriminalized a wide range of offenses (particularly nonviolent drug-related offenses) and combined full services to victims with restorative justice, mental health care and various forms of counseling to help people find productive ways to move forward after committing serious crimes.”
“But with democratic socialism there would no longer be unnecessary suffering imposed on the mass of society by institutions over which we have no control.”
In many ways, Ocasio-Cortez’s was the ideal example of a model the DSA is trying to replicate around the country with unabashed socialists from diverse, unconventional backgrounds taking on establishment figures with the logistical support of a robust organization.
As the DSA gains momentum, wins seats, and develops a ground game, particularly in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, it could become a player in the 2020 presidential race.
AFTER IT’s HARD LEFT TURN, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICIALLY ADMITS IT IS SOCIALIST?
Socialist Democrats say Bernie Sanders is “too Right-Wing”.
The chairman of the Democratic National Party, Tom Perez, said on a recent talk show that socialist political candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the “future” of the party.
An Obama-era Cabinet official said Ocasio-Cortez and Ben Jealous, a socialist running for governor in Maryland, are examples of “spectacular” candidates the party believes represents its future.
The Democrat Party of our forefathers has drastically changed over the last hundred years.
“Progressivism” and “Socialism” both have their roots dating to Karl Marx with the latter being more extreme and alien to our democracy and Constitution.
Previous progressive or socialist ideology was suppressed or given “liberal” labels due to exceptive negative reactions which would have hurt them at the polls.
The door was initially opened by small degree by Hillary Clinton during the 1990s with her “Universal Health Care” initiative. Obama threw the door open with his mantras and 8 years of “Change to America” build on his socialist background and Alinsky teachings. Sanders announced his progressive/socialist positions with Hillary close behind.
Self-avowed socialist candidates are winning primaries around the nation for offices ranging from city councils and to U.S./State offices.
Socialism has been a failure in every country where it has been adapted, ranging from reductions of freedoms, to stagnation, to outright collapse. The Democrat Party needs to be recognized for the dominance of progressive and socialist candidates who threaten the very foundation of America. Voters need to go beyond the candidates “façade” of campaign rhetoric and look at their true background and ideology.
Bernie Sanders described himself as a “democratic socialist” and praised the Scandinavian-style social democracy. He is a strong supporter of Stacy Abrams, the current self-proclaimed Progressive Democrat candidate for Georgia Governor. Alas, Bernie is “too tame” for the some of the current Democrat candidates and their supporters.
In New York’s 14th Congressional District, Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year old self-proclaimed socialist (a bar tender this time last year) won the primary for US Representative against a long term incumbent. The primary defeat Tuesday of Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., who was both a top-ranking House Democrat and the head of one of New York’s last political machines, is an upset that is still sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party.
The 57%-42% drubbing of Crowley looks like the death knell not just for his political career, but for that of his mentor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley, after all, was the hand-picked successor to Pelosi. He had outraised his far younger opponent by 10-to-1.
Ocasio-Cortez isn’t a make-believe socialist; she belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America. And she had the backing of Bernie Sanders’ “Our Revolution” political group
Her platform is extreme.
Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America (DSN) member and has been asked several times how she defines Democratic Socialism. In all of her responses, she argues that in a rich country like the United States, no person should be “too poor to live.” Even as Ocasio-Cortez ran defiantly to his left — with universal health care, a federal jobs guarantee and the abolition of ICE headlining her demands
Ocasio-Cortez is no fluke. She’s part of a trend. Just look at who the leading lights of the Democrats are today. In addition to such progressive stalwarts as Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, their most vocal and visible leaders include far-left Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.
The House has so many far-left Democrats we couldn’t list them all in an editorial. But they are numerous, and angry, pushing their side ever closer to violent confrontation.
Take Rep. Maxine Waters, an influential Democrat who had this to say about civility toward the political opposition: “If you see anybody from that (Trump) Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
The party’s base is itself increasingly far left. As a study last year by the American Culture and Faith Institute of adults 18 and older showed, 37% of adults said they “prefer socialism to capitalism.” Most of those were self-described liberals.
“That is a large minority,” wrote researcher and Executive Director George Barna. “And it includes a majority of the liberals — who will be pushing for a completely different economic model to dominate our nation. That is the stuff of civil wars. It ought to set off alarm bells among more traditionally-oriented leaders across the nation.”
They already are pushing for a “different model.”
In addition to embracing violence and the denial of such basic constitutional rights as free speech, freedom of religion and the right to protect oneself, much of the Democratic Party now embraces a spate of far-left ideas. These include such winners as open borders, Medicare for all (single-payer health care), unrestricted abortion, special “gender” rights, free tuition, government controlled housing, deep and dangerous defense cuts, a job-killing $15-an-hour minimum wage, a “guaranteed income” for all, and ever-higher welfare spending.
The Democratic Party’s socialist-progressive wing, which now dominates, champions all of these ideas and with their most dominant and vocal officials and candidates are actively anti-capitalist
By Larry Laibson
Larry has lived in Atlanta since 2002 and worked as a Project Manager for the U.S. Department of Defense for 42 years. Larry is active in both the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Fulton County GOP and has collaborated with Georgia Representatives and Senators to draft several substantial bills. He has been a Precinct Captain and a two-time member of the 6th District Convention Resolution Committee, member of the GA GOP 2016 Convention Resolution Committee, and is currently serving his third term as Fulton County GOP Vice Chairman.