Duane is an avid reader and follower of all things social, spiritual, and political, and a committed leftist.
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)
You won't hear much about this shift from the moderate centrists in the 'liberal' media or Democratic National Committee. They seem to think that ignoring when possible, and smearing leftists at every turn will make it not exist. They're whistling through the graveyard. Many people have grown weary of centrist Democrats' incremental rightward drift and collusion with the corporate lobby, Wall Street, and the Military-Industrial Complex. Democrats today would have been solidly Republican just twenty years ago.
There seem to be two Republican parties today; the batshit crazy right-wingers, and the corporatist, neo-liberal, Democrats.
The Liberal Establishment is Fighting the Left
USA Today reports more than a third of Americans, 37%, now favor Socialism. That was unthinkable just five years ago. In less than a decade, there has been a definite leftward shift in the public. People are wary of the lies associated with trickle-down economics, a corporate-friendly policy that creates insane, opulent, wealth for the few and a thirty-five-year long wage stagnation, and slow disquieting slide into poverty. Poverty is defined as one unfortunate life event, illness, major car or home repair, or otherwise unforeseen financial calamity from bankruptcy and homelessness.
The left was ignited by the Occupy movement of 2012. It was derided and smeared in the corporate media, but it didn't go away. Occupy retreated to organize. That organizing led to the insurgent campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent, Democratic Socialist. Sanders' campaign brought Socialist ideas to the mainstream, and the public was receptive.
The Emergence of The Left
Referring to 'the left' does not mean the Democratic party. The Democrats have become Republican in their governance, more like the GOP of Reagan and Bush Sr.
The emerging progressive left has been noticeably absent from American political discourse for over two decades. The Occupy movement of 2011-12 was the left's most concerted effort since Seattle in 1999. Any momentum the left may have generated in '99-00 was derailed by the events of September 11, 2001. The country went into an ultra-patriotic, vengeful, war mood. The perfect conditions for the far right-wing politics of xenophobic, flag waving, blood reckoning. The anti-war, political left was silenced, rendered impotent and invisible. To resist was to be labeled an 'unAmerican and a terrorist sympathizer.'
During W Bush's second term, the country was starting to show the fatigue of more than five years of 'support the troops' slogans and jingo patriotism and nationalistic flag waving. The nation was becoming war weary at the edges. There seemed to be no end in sight, there still isn't ten years later. Things were starting to look like Vietnam of forty years before. The political left was starting to make noise in the media. The prolonged wars were the foundation for the left to build its momentum.
The Left Doesn't Organize...It Coordinates
There is a saying in political circles that says: "trying to politically organize the left is like trying to herd cats."
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Most people on the left are not suited to hierarchical political structure and planned talking point messaging. The further left politically, the less inclined one would be to ideological obedience. Ideological obedience is a hallmark trait of conservative, and right-wing Republicans and libertarians and now even Democrats.
Heretofore, the left has rallied around individual issues, not around a comprehensive platform. Leftist thought isn't hamstrung by strict doctrine or seeking ideological purity.
The progressive left is propelled by a vision. An end to imperial wars of aggression and regime change, economic equality, and rectifying systemic racism.
It may disagree with how to realize the vision, however, the vision is the proponent.
The neo-liberal, third way Democrats, who came to power with the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, had a strangle hold on what little voice the left had in the public discourse. Those corporate moderates, who are powerful Democratic party operatives, too easily conceded on essential social issues like healthcare. They had a majority in congress in '08-'10, and public support to bargain for and win universal single-payer healthcare. But, at the beginning of the legislative bargaining process with the GOP, the Democrats conceded that powerful position, they never fought for it. The performance of the Obama administration and Democrat Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi's Congress, didn't seem much different than the previous W Bush administration and GOP congress. All that differed was the language, the attitude. But, the results were eerily similar. Wall Street and the corporate lobby were dictating public policy, not the will of the electorate.
That was the critical mass that exploded into the Occupy movement.
- Occupy Wall Street Put These 7 Issues In The Spotlight
"Income inequality, for example, has become a hot-button political issue in part thanks to exposure brought by Occupy Wall Street. " ~ Harry Bradford
What Issue Is Most Important To You
The Democrats Still Didn't Understand. . .
Occupy combusted quickly, blazed hot, passionately, like a whirlwind romance, it lasted a few months but left a lasting impression. The Democrats were too far out of touch, too devoted to Wall Street and the corporate lobby, it couldn't comprehend what Occupy aroused in the people. The Dems mistook Occupy's end for the return of public complacency. Occupy changed minds. The Democratic party has become too complicit and moderate to exploit the leftward shift. The Democrats thought the public would simply reject conservative/right-wing ideology, and flock to their corporate-friendly neo-liberalism.
They were tragically wrong. Their base was fed up and stayed home. The Republicans were able to strengthen their hold on Congress in '10, '12, and '14.
This led to the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee was not listening to the people, so the people stopped showing up for Democrats in mid-term elections. Whether Bernie Sanders had won the Democratic nomination or not, the Democratic party as we know it will never be the same. Actually, it may implode in a more stunning manner now that Sanders wasn't nominated. The party establishment has been exposed as corrupt. Serving the corporate lobby and themselves, not the will of its constituency.
Right-Wingers Are Also Losing Demographically
The United States is becoming more socially diverse, younger and less white. Right-wingers and the GOP are doing an exceedingly poor job of broadening their appeals to a browner, more urban, younger electorate. The Democrats have not demonstrated a desire to earn the support of this younger, more diverse and economically struggling demographic.
The Ascension of Bernie Sanders
Many on the progressive left feel the Democrats have become too Republican. Hillary Clinton didn't excite them at all, Hillary carries the perception of being owned by the Wall Street/corporate lobby, something that all Americans, regardless of ideology, are becoming weary of.
Enter Bernie Sanders an Independent, Democratic Socialist, that is signaling the end of the word 'socialist' being poison in American politics. FOX News and right-wing media verbalize the term -socialist- with a dismissive snarl, like socialism is the idea of Satan himself. Bernie Sanders' campaign, whether he wins or not, signals a polar shift in American politics. Americans are exhausted with corporate friendly, market based, supply side economics.
The DNC emails exposed by Wikileaks, simply confirmed what many progressives knew all along. The Democrats were actively obstructing, through collusion with the media and state Democratic parties, the Bernie Sanders campaign. The primary election process was rigged for the nomination of Hillary Clinton.
The population wants to repair where needed, and rebuild where necessary, the social safety net. Although poverty is rising, the real issue is how many Americans are living in financial and material insecurity. One or two missed paychecks from abject poverty. Material insecurity, the high costs of student loans. Banks and Wall Street that were bailed out by we the people, now scoffing at the needs of the people. We are witnessing a sea-change in American political discourse. Conservatives are old-tired news, saying the same old tired things, and hindering progress and alleviation of the economic pain.
Johnathan H. Martin at Counterpunch writes
"The coming years could be fertile ones for much needed change in our political system. Popular demand for progressive reform is growing, especially among the young. However, irrespective of presidential campaign promises and the 2016 election outcome, the corporate core of the national Democratic Party will not lead a progressive revival. At best, it may make watered down gestures to the left, as it has done since at least the Bill Clinton era. Undoubtedly, it will keep using its vast electoral machine to seduce and suppress Bernie supporters by any means necessary. Consequently, more of them may become irreversibly disillusioned with the Democrats and start considering third party alternatives more seriously."
New day dawning...thank you for reading, One love
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2015 Duane Townsend