#DemExit or not? Coronavirus, Medicare for All, #TheResistance, Voter disenfranchisement and what is next for progressives in Florida?

The Coronavirus Pandemic and its related shutdown of American life has turned everyone into a socialist – well almost everyone…large elements of the Democratic establishment continue to fan the flames of distrust toward government-backed schemes even though their Presidential nominee Joe Biden has embraced large elements of the progressive platform.

Yet the people who dominate the chattering classes still cannot see the obvious hypocrisy in their rhetoric of the last few years. I write this piece with a degree of objectivity as I did not vote for either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden in the Florida Primary. But despite not casting a ballot for Sanders, my world view has left me completely at odds with the current direction of the Democratic Party.

By Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America – Joe Biden, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86059697

Joe Biden’s rapid turnaround and seemingly easy capture of the Democratic nomination has many progressives around the country talking #DemExit or #DemExit2020. While the elites who suffer from an advanced case of Trump Derangement Syndrome wax lyrically about how horrible it is that people would consider this (people voting in elections based on values rather than tactics? The nerve!) it seems the Coronavirus-driven self-isolation of the country has created a momentum on social media for progressives and Sanders backers to quit the party. At the same time dug-in “centrists” are fighting back either telling progressives they are stupid or encouraging them to leave and not let the door hit them on the way out.

I am not sure what a centrist really is – I actually think it might just be a nice term for “transactional,” or “available to the highest bidder,” because “centrists” lack the guiding moral compasses of conservatives or liberals in most cases of policy.

My personal view remains that Joe Biden has had large elements of his Senate record deliberately mis-charecterized and that I am more comfortable with him as a nominee from a liberal point of view than Mike Bloomberg or even Kamala Harris or Corey Booker. I like Biden, but I do not like the direction of the party he’s inherited. I will vote for Joe Biden in November. That does not bind me however, to vote for any other Democrat for any other office in 2020 or beyond.

I believe Biden unfortunately has become the torch bearer for a party who is more concerned about the opinions of elite neoconservatives and those they bump into a cocktail parties than the actual working class Americans who have formed the bedrock of the party. They have no concept what drives many Trump voters and simply apply labels to them like “racists,” or “deplorables.”

It is a party now defined by #TheResistance , a movement that claims moral superiority to anyone and everything that President Trump touches. But it is a movement that doesn’t really stand for anything beyond personality-based angry politics. It is a movement that has so bereft of actual values they have cozied up to any and every displaced Republican, irrespective of past misdeeds.

It is a party so offended by Fidel Castro and Nicholas Maduro’s leftism, everyone from the Party Chairwoman here in Florida to multiple Democratic members of Congress scream when Bernie Sanders makes comments that are moderately supportive, but a party who ignored Jair Bolsanaro’s recent visit to the state and has never taken a public stand on numerous right-wing dictatorships through the years close to Florida’s shores.

It is a party whose elites have been fundamentally dishonest about why they oppose Medicare for All. They claimed we could not afford it, but now the federal government is going to spend much more on stimulus and no one seems to be objecting. They’ve rejected any academic study that comes to a different conclusion about the costs of Medicare for All, than they have. They have impugned the minds and analysis of the likes of former Labor Secretary, the brilliant Robert Reich who support Medicare for All. They’ve attacked African-Americans who put Health Care above identity in backing white progressive candidates for President.

Why? The party establishment is tied to the insurance and pharmaceutical industry like it’s never been before. Add to that the cable news channels that favor Democrats run many paid ads from these same insurance and pharmaceutical companies while employing lapsed Democratic operatives and officeholders as “political analysts”. It’s this climate which has led me personally to withdraw myself voluntarily from the American health care system – I have not gone to a doctor of any kind domestically or taken a prescribed medication in 17 months. Coronavirus not withstanding, I have made a personal pledge not go to a medical doctor or take a prescribed drug (by a US doctor) until the system changes.

Progressives who were active on Twitter Tuesday night and Wednesday morning tend to claim their isn’t a big difference today between the parties. Some of this is true and some of this isn’t.

I beg to differ on environmental issues in particular – though I will concede here in Florida we have plenty of dirty Democrats when it comes to those issues. Democrats also are as liberal as they have ever been on social issues and the discussion of how racism and sexism permeates and destroys American society.

However, on issues of economic policy, antitrust regulation, foreign affairs, corporate governance, and several other key items I agree with the left and have editorialized on these pages that the Democrats aren’t a whole lot different than the GOP. Differences between the parties can be found in shades of grey rather than black and white on these issues. In fact on foreign affairs, I believe the Democrats may actually be to the right of the GOP now.

With the President talking about a massive airline bailout it’s worth noting as I did this week, many of the excesses of an industry that has run amok were cemented by the lax antitrust regulation of the Obama Administration. The theme of Obama’s Justice Department not properly regulating big business reappears time and again – it is a driving force behind the progressive movement, and something establishment Democrats do not seem to be able or willing to comprehend.

The Obama Administration created a climate where business would not be regulated effectively and almost any merger would be approved with few if any real divestment of assets.

But let’s be honest – leaving the party isn’t practical because Florida continues despite a law to the contrary to essentially be a closed primary state. The spirit of a law passed in the late 1990’s that allowed open primaries is continuously violated by the use of write-ins who serve no real purpose other than to disenfranchise voters. Both parties and their associated attorney’s practice this game of subterfuge which is a legalized form of voter disenfranchisement under the guise of partisanship.

Additionally any #DemExit isn’t really impacting the party until General Elections – it’s voters who then disengage and do not vote. Populism tends to drive increases in turnout as we’ve seen with President Trump and historically with populist, ideologically-driven campaigns.

So where does that leave us?

It probably means groups of registered Democrats like the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida and Democratic Socialists of America need to grow stronger. DSA chapters need to spring up and become active in areas of intense Democratic Party establishment rule like Broward County (whose response to Coronavirus has been worse than neighboring Miami-Dade, run by Republicans. Broward has a history of staffing government agencies with partisan cronies and while Broward reported its first COVID-19 case days before Miami-Dade, they actually began taking what I would call serious preventative measures to stop its spread locally LATER than Miami-Dade…imagine that!) where single-party non-ideological governance has led to cronyism and corruption on a scale unseen in this state since the 1960’s. Progressives not only serve an ideological purpose, but one for good government and defeating the corruption of both major political parties.

This is in sharp contrast to the leaders of the #Resistance which now effectively run the Democratic Party. For them anything President Trump does is wrong, so his embrace of government-driven manipulation of the economy (which he’s been doing for three years, even though many Democrats hardly noticed) is worth critiquing, leading some critics to claim the Democrats are now to the right of the GOP on multiple issues. Anything the left does to discuss values and ideology must be beat back, because issues cannot get in the way of the single-issue the party cares about – Donald Trump. So what results is a collection of haphazardly put together groups of different ideologies with only one purpose in mind. This is not progressive, it’s regressive.

So my advice for progressives is remain a registered Democrat, even if you self-identify as an independent from this day forward. Fight to reform the party if you wish but more strategically withdrawing from party-driven institutions and organizations and joining progressives ones will make a difference. Do not “vote blue no matter who,” nor parrot the parties’ talking points. But stay active with candidates and causes and vote in Democratic primaries.

Eventually the Democratic Party will move back to the left, or will cease to exist in its current form. Progressives can be a big part of shaping its long-term destiny without being partisan hacks.

7 comments

  1. “Democrat” has become an ideology.

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    1. But it is an ideology with no guiding compass or clear set of principles.

      Like

  2. Once KuKluxKartik now a KK fan · · Reply

    CAN I GET AN AMEN!

    DSA groups will rise across the state.
    We will scare the shit out of the corrupt FDP.

    Dr. Cornell West has led a movement.
    Brother Bernie has expanded it.
    Now we will go even further to replace money grubbing Democratic Party.

    Oh you were right about Gillum after all.
    He compared Sanders to Trump support of Nazis

    We apologize. You were right
    he was unprincipled and corrupt.
    Than a liar using addiction as an excuse.

    I wanted a fellow African-American leading. I thought with Bernie behind him he was genuine. But is a fraud.

    His attacks on Bernie killed anything I had for him. Those charges you claimed probably all correct. Low character trash that gives us POC’s a bad name!

    You have been spot on this cycle.
    Keep it going.

    F*** the Dem establishment.

    We know you are not scared of them.

    Neither are we.

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  3. Progressive Democrats of America is another group, though admittedly trying to work within the party, but less so than the Progressive Caucus. This is in fact what Bernie suggested in 2016, and there were some takers, but we need more.

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  4. Patrick J Fowler · · Reply

    Kartik,
    Before I begin this comment let me lead with the ritualistic statement that I see the Republican Party as an evil enterprise that supports the rich while cynically using the fears of the left behind and those who believe in fundamental religion to bulk up their team.

    I quit the Democratic Party in 2016 after more than 50 years in the party that included working on campaigns at all levels and being on the Leon County DEC for several years. I quit because the more involved I got the more I realized how undemocratic the Party is. I once wrote that I thought the Party should give up the name so some other group could use it more appropriately.

    The Democratic Party serves the rich while cynically using the fears and aspirations of women and blacks to form its base. As it changed its focus from economic issues to new left identity issues it abandoned the poor and the working class, even though women and blacks are disproportionately represented in both groups. The hypocrisy of the effort to achieve parity at the top for middle class women and middle class blacks while abandoning those most in need should be obvious to all who are not blinded by partisan and identity zealotry. Martin Luther King and left feminists warned against this practice in the 60s and 70s.

    The so-called Democratic Party has been complicit in forming a country that is the wealthiest in the world, but produces legions of homeless human beings of all ages, genders, races and ethnicities. We are more economically unequal, less physically well, less well educated, more mentally ill, more violent and more imprisoned than all other developed countries and many developing countries. The Party has participated through decades of deregulation, ignoring anti-labor legislation, destruction of our inadequate safety net programs, supporting too big to fail banks, while abandoning those failed-to-be-rich humans who cannot withdraw their political financial support in retaliation.

    The United States is the scourge of the world regardless of the party in power. We stay at war at will. Most of it to eliminate obstacles to trade, no matter how it is characterized. This has spawned extremist reaction which of course must be eliminated at tremendous cost in civilian and military lives in an endless spiral of blood. The two parties decry the excesses across the isle while seeing none of their own sins.

    We go along for many reasons, often because we see no options. I believe there are options. To start, stop participating. Stop giving the parties the credibility of your membership. Work for open primaries, multiple parties and proportional voting. To be of No Party Affiliation does not mean you can’t vote against a monster like Trump. It just means you no longer see either of the two parties as a means of attaining a just society. To join them is to be complicit. Boycott the corrupt two-party system. Register as having No Party Affiliation.

    Pat Fowler

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    1. Well put and thanks!

      Like

  5. Joe Kreps · · Reply

    Kartik, you have nailed it once again. Our thoughts and observations are so similar it is scary.

    Like

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