“Abandon the Democrats!” — The rallying cry of defeated, marginalized progressives

Occupy Wall Street

For years Republicans wandered in the political wilderness with no leadership and no guidance. Barack Obama ushered in a new era of Democratic dominance and Republicans would be doomed without a unified message in opposition to Obama and his policies.

That’s the narrative the mainstream media attempted to portray.

But in the wake of the 2014 midterm elections, it seems the tables have turned. Republicans made significant gains in state legislatures, won governor’s races in traditionally Democratic states, increased their margin in the House, and re-took the Senate. This has caused much hand-wringing and soul-searching among Democrats and progressives within the grassroots.

Salon.com has been one of the loudest voices on the Left taking the Democratic Party to task for its cozy relationship with Wall Street. Bill Curry, former White House counselor for President Bill Clinton, tells progressives to build a framework outside the Democrats Party, much like the tea party’s relationship to the Republican Party. He writes:

Democrats are in denial regarding the magnitude and meaning of their defeat. It is a rejection not just of current leaders but of the very business model of the modern Democratic Party: how it uses polls and focus groups to slice and dice us; how it peddles its sly, hollow message and, worst, how it sells its soul to pay for it all. Party elites hope party activists will seek to lift their moods via the cheap adrenaline high of another campaign. For once, activists may resist the urge.

The vital task for progressives isn’t reelecting Democrats but rebuilding a strong, independent progressive movement. Our history makes clear that without one, social progress in America is next to impossible. For 100 years progressive social change movements transformed relations between labor and capital, buyers and sellers, blacks and whites, men and women, our species and our planet. But in the 1970s progressives began to be coopted and progress ceased. Their virtual disappearance into the Democratic Party led to political stultification and a rollback of many of their greatest achievements.

Morton Blackwell, longtime conservative activist and Republican Party official says, “Remember: The other side has problems, too.” And for all the wailing and gnashing the media claimed was going on within the Republican Party, it’s that bad — if not worse — in the Democratic Party.

And though Curry worked for former President Bill Clinton, he nods at the Clinton-Warren war within the Democratic Party. As UL noted in early December, it looks like Wall Street financiers are lining up behind Hillary, a fact that could further embolden progressives to work outside the Democratic structure.

The tea party has largely attempted to work within the Republican Party, supporting candidates in primaries and getting elected to local leadership roles. But it has also remained independent of the Republican Party, organizing as 9/12 chapters and other tea party-aligned groups outside of the Republican Party structure. Curry suggests progressives do the same:

Some say the Democratic Party is beyond saving. Others say it’s our last hope. I see progressives taking leave of Democrats not as abandonment but more like tough love. In the end it may be the only thing that can save Democrats or for that matter progressives, whose reputation has been tarnished by the party that betrayed them. In any event it’s better for both parties for all future business to be conducted on an arms’ length, cash-for-carry basis.

My guess is that if you can’t take over the Democratic Party, you can’t take over the country — and that a declaration of independence should be followed by an actual rebellion. The Tea Party has shown you can work within a party and yet be highly independent. But whether to work within, against or apart from the Democrats is a call for later. Building a strong progressive movement is work we must do now. Obama had this right in 2008. We are the change we’ve been waiting for.

It’s unlikely the mainstream media will trumpet a “Democratic Party Civil War” like the do when Republicans have intra-party disagreements, but that’s exactly what is happening.

Conservatives can take the “Dems in Disarray!” opportunity to continue organizing and defeating big government liberals.


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