"Democrats: Always standing up for what they later realized they should have believed in." -- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
As each day passes in the post-9/11 Bush-administration political nightmare the Democratic Party and its liberal friends should be hanging their heads lower and lower in shame for first demeaning, then plotting against and then betraying their basic party principles by casting their votes twice against the one man among them who was willing to speak truth to political power.
It was immediately after a humiliating defeat at the hands of George W. Bush in 2000 that these same Democrats and their liberal friends went into self-denial by blaming one man for their stinging defeat; however, it was this very man -- Ralph Nader -- who could have led them out of the political desert to victory.
They conveniently ignored the fact that their party's candidate failed not only to carry his home state, but also the state of the president he had served for eight years; victory in either of the two would have made the controversial Florida vote irrelevant. Again in 2004 the party and its rag-tag liberals voted their pocket books and resumés rather than their consciences and actively organized against Nader, assuring us four more years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld "axis of evil."
Now we see the desperate Democrats once again chanting their decades-old mantra of centrist policy ideals, chortling over the chaotic state of their opposition and plotting how they can gleefully capitalize on such negativity, rather than addressing how to prevent this country and its political and social institutions from going to hell in a hand basket!
The New York Times' Robin Toner, in discussing the party's future, notes that some party pundits "argue that the party needs something more than a pastiche of policy proposals. It needs a broader vision, a narrative, they say, to return to power and govern effectively -- what some describe as an unapologetic appeal to the 'common good,' to big goals like expanding affordable health coverage and to occasional sacrifice for the sake of the nation as a whole. This emerging critique reflects, for many, a hunger to move beyond the carefully calibrated centrism that marked the Clinton years, which was itself the product of the last big effort to redefine the Democratic Party."
But, as the Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert puts it so well:
"If the Democrats don't know what they believe in yet -- if they're still figuring that out -- they don't deserve to win. Politicians are supposed to lead, and the US has seldom been in more desperate need of leadership than now."
Ultimately, therefore, it all comes down to trust and with the Bush administration's trust in the dumpster and the polls showing that the voters now trust the Democratic Party to do a better job of governing the country, the party cannot fail the voters once again, for if they do it could well spell the death knell of the party as a viable political force in our country.
It cannot regain the stature it once enjoyed when it was hailed as the peoples' party if it does not let Iraq be Iraq, while openly challenging what Kevin Phillips has termed the "American theocracy." It needs also to put forth bold new proposals to bridge the economic, social and racial gap between rich and poor and exhibit a genuine willingness to promote the "common good" and be seen by the world as peace keepers rather that foreign occupiers and protectors of the corporate state.
Take, for example, the immigration problem. In a previous column an effort was made to show how the immigration problem was one of our own making, initiated by corporate agribusiness' decades-old mania for a slave-labor force and how, if our government was sincere about solving this problem, it would not only severely penalize those corporations and contractors that recruit the "slaves we rent," but at the same time structure a fair and equitable farm economy whereby a domestic labor force was readily available.
Likewise, the party that first championed a living wage, social security, collective bargaining and Medicare could put forth a bold new plan for labor that would both solve many of our domestic economic problems such as unemployment, universal health care, pension plans, etc., but would also go a long way toward tackling the immigration problems we face as a nation.
Think what a bold move it would be for the party to propose raising the minimum wage to reflect a true cost of living that would in turn work in tandem with a corporate profit-sharing program. Many of the nation's industrial sectors now figure that an average 10% to 15% return on stockholders' equity for a year makes for a healthy economic picture.
Thus, workers, in addition to a fair and equitable minimum wage would also received say a 50% share of what the stockholders would receive each year on their equity, the amount being determined by the industry-wide sector's average. Clearly, we would have a vigorous economy whereby people would be assured that they had food in their stomachs, a roof over their heads, money for the children's higher education and that their life savings wouldn't be in constant danger from catastrophic health emergencies.
Assuredly, such a plan would be highly controversial, but unless the Democratic Party begins to think in likewise courageous and undaunting new ways they will continue to remain hapless and out of power.
Of course, all this could have been avoided both in 2000 and 2004 if only the Democratic Party had listened to Ralph Nader, rather than to the Clintons, Liebermans, and those Party turncoats masquerading as the so-called Democratic Leadership Council.
In retrospect, one only needs to examine Nader's comprehensive policy statements in those two campaigns and consider the man's life which has been devoted to democracy and public service to see that he was the right man at the right time to lead this country out of the political morass that was instigated by the Republican Party, ratified by their accomplices in the Democratic Party, both of which have been ably supported in recent years by their corporate paymasters and a do-nothing Congress.
A.V. Krebs is the author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness, which is available from the author. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.