Commentary By KAY MATTHEWS
I opened a link on Facebook to an article from the Independent Journal Review (founded in 2012 by several former Republican staffers) that included a video of an Anderson Cooper interview with Nancy Pelosi titled “Anderson Cooper Asked Nancy Pelosi to Name the Leader of the Democratic Party . . . Crickets.” Pelosi failed to name Tom Perez, head of the DNC, but spoke of Obama and “various leaders in Congress.” I’ll get to this in a minute.
There were dozens of comments on this Facebook post. The first few all claimed that billionaire George Soros is “the leader of the Democratic Party.” The rest of them verified that all the “isms” do indeed permeate the right-wing: the sexism and ageism directed at Pelosi (“old hag,” “bitch,” “brainless wonder”) and the racism that underpins their criticisms of Obama: the Obamacare “disaster,” “cleaning the swamp,” and the “enabler of Islam.” They also go after Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein, and Maxine Waters: “bumping booties.” Some of the comments are hidden by the site managers as too hateful to view. I probably see some of these folks every day on the street trolling merrily along.
The most damning take-away from this article and its comments, however, is its spot-on analysis of an indeed leaderless Democratic Party. One of the first comments on the post is this: “While I’m hesitant to give the Democrats any hints as to how they may improve the party, getting rid of Pelosi, Waters, Shumer, and a few other outrageously stupid-speaking ‘leaders’ might be a first step.” Soon after is this comment, apparently from a Democrat: “I’m a mass [not sure what that means] democrat and even I am disgusted with the party. I don’t believe I would vote dem in the coming elections. There is no leader, no sound philosophy, just elitism is left. We need change.”
Who hasn’t heard similar comments coming from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party? In my November 21, 2016 article in La Jicarita I wrote: “A large part of the exploration of truth must be directed at the liberal left and Democratic Party. Ever since the New Deal the party has been leaning right towards this, our second guilded age, embracing neoliberalism as the path towards 1% rule. That’s why they fought so hard to discredit Bernie in his run for the nomination: he hammered relentlessly on economic inequality that resonated with folks across the country. He was criticized by some on the left for not addressing more directly the issues of race as well as class, but I think he felt his only path towards the nomination was to discredit HRC where she was most vulnerable as a member of the neoliberal elite who has been instrumental in disenfranchising the working class.”
Not only is the progressive wing struggling to get rid of the “economic elite” but to also fight off the liberals who continue to claim that embracing diversity does a disservice to a united cause. As I’ve also written previously, inclusiveness can be accomplished with grace when folks learn to listen to each other with respect but also agree there can be no compromising on the common goal of social justice for all. This is happening all over the country as people organize to provide safety and sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation; Muslim and Jewish folks open their doors to each other when one or the other group is attacked; and constituents show up at congressional officers to demand justice and empathy for the poor and the sick (see this video of a woman who describes herself as a Christian stand up and defend the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires the fortunate to help the unfortunate). This week the GOP pulled the “American Healthcare Act” because they couldn’t get the votes. A lot of credit goes to these folks who showed up at the town hall meetings and scared the bejesus out of their representatives.
The Democratic Party in its corporatist status quo has lost power at the federal, state, and local level and yet still fought and undermined the Sanders campaign against Clinton and continues to marginalize his populist message with the election of Tom Perez to head the DNC. So what are they doing instead? Turning up the rhetoric on distractions like the “deep state”—loosely defined as the nexus between the intelligence agencies and the military that retain power in Washington regardless of administrations—preparing to take us to war with Russia and the Trump administration’s conspiracy with the Russian government.
Just look at the partisan divide during the hearings last week before the House Intelligence committee on the FBI’s investigation of possible connections between the Trump White House/campaign and Russia. Every question the Democrats raised was about who talked to whom or had their picture taken with whom or went to dinner with whom while the Republicans just complained about leaks: who told all these journalists (who some representatives thought should go to jail) that all these people were talking or eating with each other.
I don’t know if either the “deep state” or a Russian conspiracy is going to get the Republicans to impeach Trump, but whatever happens, the Dems will be incapable of rescuing our country from a neo-fascist authoritarian government let alone a neoliberal one if they stay the course. Just how dysfunctional that course is was revealed in another recent Facebook post of an article in Daily Kos called “Documenting History So It’s Not Repeated: Naming Regressive Leftists Who Tried To Help Trump Win.” Here the author takes a bunch of out-of-context quotes from mostly Green Party candidates like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein who, she asserts, “openly tried to help Trump win.” Then she uses a broad brush to throw other progressives like Cornel West and Chris Hedges under the bus. A few who questioned the integrity of the article on the Facebook post were summarily dismissed as “Trump enablers.” The comments posted on the article site itself numbered 1,803 last time I checked. The bickering and accusations over who was responsible for HRC’s loss is “full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Unless the populist left is able to take over the Democratic Party I don’t see how it can effectively challenge the right-wing movement that has brought us to the brink of disaster.