First of all, this article is not an attack on the young progressives who have made it their mission to take over the Democratic Party and move it to the left. They have created a cause for themselves, a cause they are working for with passion and determination. For that they deserve to be commended. This is written to show why they have such a monumental challenge ahead.
The loss to a candidate as contemptible and reviled as Donald Trump should have been a major wake-up call for the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton did in fact win the popular vote by a substantial margin but her party was shown it couldn’t win a presidential election with a centrist, unimaginative platform and a casual approach to campaigning. Furthermore, multiple recent polls have shown Bernie Sanders would have easily beaten Trump with his message of social and economic justice. Sanders gained millions of supporters in the Democratic primaries, creating the biggest left-wing movement in the nation’s history. It should have been clear that moving to the left was needed for the party to remain electorally competitive. Sadly, the Democratic establishment has shown absolutely no intention of doing so.
A little over a week after the general election, Chuck Schumer was elected Senate Minority Leader. Much like his predecessor, Harry Reid, Schumer deserves blame for the divisiveness which has crippled Washington. He has a number of unforgivable blotches on his record including his vote for the Iraq War, his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act, and his vocal support for Israel’s atrocities against the people of Palestine. The Senate Democrats could have reached out to its female supporters and elected Elizabeth Warren to the position. They could have even chosen Bernie Sanders (who now heads the Outreach Committee). Instead of becoming more progressive, they voted for no change or progress whatsoever.
Progressives 0 – 1 The Democratic Establishment
House Democrats’ first post-election action was to re-elect Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader. Pelosi is another veteran of the most unproductive Congresses ever, and she oversaw the devastating defeats suffered in the 2010 midterms. She represents a staunchly blue district in California so has little reason to become more progressive because she is all but guaranteed to keep her seat. Not to mention the fact she is 76 years old and has already been in the House for almost thirty years. They could have voted for a younger, more open-minded member but the establishment Democrats opted for the status quo.
Progressives 0 – 2 The Democratic Establishment
Soon after the start of the current term, the Senate held a vote on a budget-resolution amendment introduced by Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. The amendment permitted patients and pharmacies to purchase prescription medications from overseas suppliers where costs are drastically lower than in the Unites States. Americans could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month while experiencing no interruption in their care. Such an idea was a huge part of Sanders’ appeal during the primaries. Unbelievably, thirteen Democratic senators voted against it. Cory Booker, who was widely seen as the progressive future of the Democratic Party, was one of those thirteen. They offered halfhearted excuses regarding safety but the real reason behind their votes quickly became clear; campaign contributions. Every one of those senators received large sums from pharmaceutical companies, far more than any of the senators who voted for the amendment. But there is something that makes those Democrats’ votes even more egregious; twelve Republicans voted for the amendment. Had Booker and his cohorts voted with them, the amendment would have passed. Unfortunately, they placed a higher priority on corporate profits than their constituents’ health and economic stability.
Progressives 0 - 3 The Democratic Establishment
Trevor Hill is a brave young man. A student at NYU, he agreed to ask Nancy Pelosi a softball question during a CNN town hall before standing up and actually asking the tough question he had planned all along. Hill informed her that 51% of young people no longer supported capitalism and wanted to know what the Democratic Party was going to do to attract their votes. That he had to agree to a toothless question to be allowed to participate is bad enough. Then he got Pelosi’s response. She talked about “shareholder capitalism” and how there does need to be some small changes made to increase fairness. It was a nice soundbite but there was one line which made clear the Democrats’ position; “We’re capitalists, that’s just the way it is.” With that single line Pelosi told everyone the Democrats will remain a corporate-capitalist party and will not make any attempts to change the current economic system. She effectively shut the door on anyone hoping for economic justice.
Progressives 0 – 4 The Democratic Establishment
Not even on a small local issue will the party be changed. Here in Columbus, Ohio the Franklin County Democratic Party let it be known they intended to endorse candidates well before the paperwork filing deadline, let alone the primaries. Progressive Democrats tried to reason with the powers that be to keep the whole process fair so every candidate (including the most progressive) had a shot at winning their party’s nomination. Endorsements were made anyway and they were all in favor of the least progressive candidates.
Progressives 0 – 5 The Democratic Establishment
The Democratic Party has obviously had plenty of opportunities to change since November. Regrettably, it hasn’t taken a single one. If progressive Democrats can’t even get a county committee to change its policy on endorsements, when and where are their victories going to come?