Democrats


"...we have only one political party in the United States, the Property Party, with two right wings, Republican and Democrat... citizens find it difficult at election time to tell the parties apart... The Republicans are often more doctrinaire than the Democrats, who are willing to make small -- very small -- adjustments where the poor and black are concerned while giving aid and comfort to the anti-imperialists" (Gore Vidal. "State of the Union, 2004." The Nation, Sep. 13, 2004: 23-29).


"Let me introduce myself. Since 1993, I've run the Congressional Accountability Project, which opposes corruption in Congress. It hasn't been easy. I'll bet you understand.

"After thirteen years, I can't honestly claim any victories. Sure, some powerful members of Congress were embarrassed by front-page scandal stories. But it didn't do much good. Congress passed no major anti-corruption reforms. Here's why: Although both Republican and Democrats are happy to hurl accusations at one another, neither has any real interest in reducing corruption in Congress.

"Even now, in the middle of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which may be the worst political scandal since Watergate, both parties are hoping that nobody notices when they pass sham reform and call it a triumph...

"In Washington, Republicans are the party of the corporations and their trade associations. Anti-corruption reforms threaten corporations because they reduce the influence of money in politics. If money can't buy legislative action, then corporations won't get what they want. Lobbying reforms also cut into those lovely perks that members of Congress crave...

"Amazingly, when the Democrats announced their ethics plan, it was almost as tame as the Republicans'...

"Democrats haven't changed much since then. They have the power to file ethics complaints to trigger investigations of Republican corruption. But they don't. Here's a dirty secret: House Minority Leader Nancy Pilosi basically prohibits her Democrats from filing ethics complaints against Republicans--even powerful ones. In other words, Pelosi protects Republicans from investigations of corruption, influence-peddling, and abuse of power.

"Why does Pelosi act as the Republicans' angel of mercy? If Democrats filed ethics complaints, Republicans would, too. The likely result of such an "ethics war": Corruption would be exposed, members from both parties would be embarrassed, and a few might lose their seats in Congress. There might even be an indictment or two. Maybe someone would go to jail. Sounds great. But it's intolerable to both parties...

"...in September 1997, they passed "reforms" (I called them the Corrupt Politicians' Protection Act) that made it impossible for citizens to file ethics complaints in the House. The "reforms" created a climate in Congress where corruption is increasingly possible--exactly what both parties wanted" (Gary Ruskin. "No Housecleaning." The Progressive, May, 2006: 22-24).


"... unemployed, underemployed, hurting economically in some way. This group of Americans, who number in the millions, harbors deep-seated anger over corporate shenanigans, their lack of healthcare and good jobs, yet in interview after interview I found they are often the most fervant in their support of George W. Bush and his tough rhetoric.

"Why? One answer is that Republicans have used "social issues"... to speak to these Americans; they mine the anger... deflecting attention from the true cause of their problems. And the Democrats have been timid, or unable to form a message to break through to them...

"...the workers' growing wrath -- he was seeing it mature into xenophobia and right-wing radicalism. "It's not unlike the anger in prewar Germany and prewar Italy," Russo said...

"In 1920s Weimar Germany... with economic deprivation came growing anger. What did the government do? Instead of raising taxes on the rich, who could pay, it lowered them. The terrible conditions were actually good for the industrialists and landlords. They wanted the mark to tumble, because they were able to erase debts by paying them off with worthless marks...

"In America, too, there were stresses in the 1930s... what if there had been no FDR? Walter Lippmann wrote that the nation would have "followed almost any leader anywhere he chose to go"...

"Talk-radio is but one example of how the anger has grown... Now there are 1,300 all-talk stations, and conservatives rule. It's no coincidence that their popularity rose concurrent with the decline of the manufacturing economy, as anger deepened in American society...

"There are tens of millions of American workers living in a virtual depression, in a virtual Weimar. Their anger is real, as is their fear... The right has been addressing it in the form of appearing decisive with "preventive war," or by cranking up the xenophobia...

"The solution lies in doing something both parties have ignored in their free-trade euphoria: helping working-class Americans with jobs and healthcare. That will not erase the fear of another terror attack, but it will dissipate some of the anger resulting from economic hardship. It would tip the margin back to a saner political course...

"If John Kerry wins, the right margin will rage against him, as it did against Clinton before him, and against FDR in the 1930s. The anger found in America is not going to dissipate. It must be dealt with. And that will take leadership" (Dale Maharidge. "Rust & Rage In the Heartland." The Nation, Sep. 20, 2004: 11-14).


"...the DLC is claiming like a broken record that progressive policies are hurting the Democratic Party...

"...multinationals like Philip Morris, Texaco, Enron and Merck... have all.. slathered the DLC with cash. Those resources have been used to push a nakedly corporate agenda under the guise of "centrism."...

"... almost every major poll shows Americans already essentially believe Republicans are waging a class war on behalf of the rich--they are simply waiting for a national party to give voice to the issue...

"The "centrists" tell Democrats not to hammer corporations for their misbehavior and not to push for a serius crackdown on corporate excess... Yet such a posture... is mainstream...

"...proposals to repeal the Bush tax cuts... a majority of American support such a policy...

"... almost two-thirds of Americans say they prefer a universal health-care system "that's run by the government and financed by taxpayers" as opposed to the current private, for-profit system.

"Same thing with prescription drugs...

"...those who want government to mandate higher fuel efficiency in cars are labeled "lefties"... [yet] 81 percent of Americans support the policy...

"...a majority of the American public is critical of US government trade policy... Only 24 percent of Americans said they wanted to continue the NAFTA agreement. The public outrage at trade deals has been so severe... that support dropped even among upper-income Americans...

"Despite this overwhelming evidence, Washington, DC, Democrats apparently have not gotten the message that their current definition of "centrism" is actually pulling the party further and further out of the mainstream" (David Sirota. "Debunking 'Centrism'." The Nation, Jan. 3, 2005: 18-19).


"...Democrats in Washington do not have the answers. The party will never get back on track with a DC player at the helm, or with DC pollsters and consultants guiding its agenda or strategy. Dems must reconnect with the energy at the grassroots, holding councils in every county" ("DNC Makeover Time." The Nation, Dec. 20, 2004: 3).


"...professionals with graduate degrees, a group that increasingly forms a bedrock Democratic constituency" (Christopher Hayes. "Corruption--A Proven Winner." The Nation, May 2, 2005: 18). [This further substantiates my view that better educated and smarter people tend to be liberal -Colby]


"...Citigroup, the largest and most flagrant of Wall Street offenders, agreed to provide $2 billion to the injured investors in Enron, the colossal corporate hoax whose ingenioius balance-sheet deceptions were engineered by financiers at Citigroup and other leading banks. Another major culprit, JP Morgan Chase, settled a few days later for $2.2 billion. This sounds like a lot of money, but it's trivial alongside the $40 billion or more that shareholders and pension funds lost in the Enron swindle. Citigroup had already paid even more--$2.65 billion--for its role in the WorldCom swindle. No contrition required; pay out some money, get on with business.

"We might at least pause to marvel at what the modern bankerly imagination has created: a huge, all-service, guilt-free money machine. Criminal behavior is defined downward into a manageable cost of doing business. For its part in numerous reckless scandals, Citigroup has set aside (or already expended) an astonishing total of $9.8 billion. But since its quarterly earnings run around $5 billion, these costs are easily spread over years (and reduced by one-third after tax deductions). Some financial experts argue that this new beast of megabanking would become still more profitable if it decided to obey the laws...

"In addition to Enron and WorldCom, Citi was implicated in fraudulent collaborations with Global Crossing, Dynegy, Adelphia and a bunch of other corporations. Its high-flying stock touts--most infamously Jack Grubman of it Saloman Smith Barney subsidiary--took care of the corporate insiders by guling the sheeplike investors and awarding lucrative IPO shares to favored customers and friends. The SEC investigation noted lawsuits alleging that Citi analysts' research reports on campanies were "without a reasonable basis in fact." Citi paid $400 milion for forgiveness, then paid additional apologies for allowing mutual funds and other institutions to harves under-the-table profits...

"In China two Citigroup investment executives were suspended for providing false information to regulators. In Britain securities regulators investigated when Citi engineered a huge, $13.5 billion bond sale, then bought back the bonds at depressed prices (the bank apologized to Europeans burned in the transaction). In Argentina the US SEC went after Citi's accounting irregularities. In Japan Citigroup was forced to close down its private banking operations in 2004... for allowing employees to engage in fraudulent transactions.

"The ugliest dimension of Citi's profitability... involves "predatory lending to poor people trying to buy homes. Its consumer finance division, CitiFinancial, and subsidiaries jacked up interest rates and gouged buyers with inflated up-front fees and un-needed insurance coverage, thus setting up unwitting borrowers for default and loss of their homes... Citigroup keeps buying up low-end finance companies...

"Citigroup is a monstrosity created in its current state wholly by the Democrats, not right-wing Republicans, just as the original financial deregulation enacted in 1980 was achieved by a Democratic President and Democratic Congress, not Reaganites. That legislation abolished interest-rate controls, and decriminalized usury... The 1998 legislation that created all-purpose megabanks was achieved by Bill Clinton...

"Faced with a crime spree on Wall Street, Democrats looked the other way... Grassroots Democrats who believe getting Republicans out of power will restore an equitable system need to understand this. After they defeat the right, they will then have to take on the Democratic Party's own "Citigroup caucus"" (William Greider. "Sins & the Citi." The Nation, July 4, 2005: 4-6).


"It might surprise conservatives to learn that Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans, but that's what the Los Angeles Times's Michael Kinsley found 4/3/05 when he compared economic reports over the past 45 years that showed Dem presidents have consistently higher economic growth and lower unemployment than GOP presidents. Spending goes up faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones. And debt grows under Republicnas becuase they DO like to cut taxes.

"Kevin Drum of WashingtonMonthly.com 5/9/05 found similar trends in a paper by Princeton's Larry Bartels that showed every income class did well since 1948 but the poorest did best under Democratic presidents. With a Democrat in the White House, the bottom 20% had average pretax income growth of 2.63% per year while the top 5% showed pretax income growth of 2.11% per year. Republicans were polar opposites, with overall performance worse than Democrats, but wildly tilted toward the well-off... "In other words, Republican presidents produce poor economic performance because they're obsessed with helping the well off... At least 95% of the country does better under Democrats"" ("Dispatches." Progressive Populist, June 1, 2005: 5).


"Scores of the US's richest people have pledged $1m or more towards a new attempt to reinvigorate the American left and counter the powerful Republican political machine.

"The money will be funnelled through an organization called the Democracy Alliance which, according to a report in the Washington Post, will help fund a network of thinktanks and advocacy groups seeking to halt the shift to the cultural and political right...

"The organization aims to raise $200m, with more than 80 backers already agreeing to pledge $200,000 a year over five years. A board of directors will draw up a list of established and new organizations to develop and promote ideas on the left. The aim is to foster the growth of institutional counterweights to righwing thinktanks such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Hoover Institution" (David Teather. "Millions for liberal fightback." Guardian Weekly, Aug. 12, 2005: 7).


"[Bernie Sanders] is the most prominent democratic socialist in America... now in his eighth term in Congress... The "minority of one" member of Congress who sits in the House as neither a Democrat nor a Republican... Vermonters, who shouted, "Give 'em hell, Bernie!"...

"It's mind-boggling how popular Bernie is. And it's not just progressives... Polls consistently identify Sanders as the most popular politician in the state... He was re-elected in 2004 with more than two-thirds of the vote against a well-funded Republican challenger, sweeping not just his traditional base in Burlington but the vast majority of the state's 251 rural towns. Now... Sanders is the clear front-runner to win one of the few US Senate seats next year where no incumbent is running...

"Even if he were not a socialist, and even if he were not an independent who eschews most of the trappings of contemporary partisan politics--including those of a Democratic party he sees as dramatically too centrist, too cautious and too unfocused to counter the country's drift to the right... That he attracts the support he does with what are generally portrayed as career-crushing liabilities in American politics has made his Senate campaign the subject of a good deal of fascination among progressives looking for a successful model... Democrats want to know how Sanders wins tough races in an overwhelmingly rural state by drawing the enthusiastic support of precisely the sort of white working-class voters Democrats have ahd such a hard time hanging on to in recent elections...

"There's not Bernie Sanders gimmick. Rather, Sanders offers confirmation of a fundamental reality that too many progressive pols have forgotten: An ideologically muscular message delivered in a manner that crosses lines of class, region and partisanship is still the best strategy. "Bernie earned people's trust over a long period of time by taking strong stands and sticking to them"...

"...about economics. To a great extent, arguably, than any other progressive politician in the country, Sanders is identified with pocketbook issues... issues ranging from protecting Social Security, retirement plans and Medicare to expanding access to healthcare, lowering drug prices, raising the minimum wage, helping small businesses get started and keeping family farmers on the land...

"The sense that "Bernie's on our side" on the economic issues has provided the Congressman with a following even among Vermonters not so comfortable with his opposition to the war or his ardent support of reproductive freedom and gay rights...

"The biggest mistake Democrats make is to take economics off the table...

"...Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems--discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering" (John Nichols. "Being Like Bernie: What Democrats Can Learn from Sanders-style Populism." The Nation, Aug. 15, 2005: 15-18).


"... Robert Frost's devastating quip: A "liberal" is someone so broadminded he won't take his own side in an argument" (Eric Alterman. "Can We Talk?" The Nation, Nov. 21, 2005: 13).


Colby Glass, MLIS