After the Midterm Elections: How Should We Think About the Democratic Party?
We are reposting here two different perspectives on the elections. After one of the biggest defeats of the Democratic Party in history, amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, how should we think about the role of the Democratic Party?
For an opposing view we turn to the World Socialist Website below.
Enthusiasm?: I Am Not Interested in Things Getting Worse!
by Bill Fletcher, Jr
There has been a lot of discussion about the apparent enthusiasm gap between Democratic voters and Republican voters. While it is beyond question that the Obama administration has accomplished significant reforms in its first two years, the manner in which these have been accomplished, combined with the fact that they were generally not deep enough, has led many liberal and progressive voters to despair.
So, what should we think as we quickly approach November 2nd? First, there were too many magical expectations of both the Obama administration and most Democrats in Congress. Many of us forgot that while they represented a break with the corrupt Bush era, they were not coming into D.C. with a red flag, a pink flag or a purple flag. They came to stabilize the system in a period of crisis. President Obama chose to surround himself with advisers who either did not want to appear to believe or in fact did not believe that dramatic structural reforms were necessary in order to address the depth of the economic and environmental crises we face. They also believed, for reasons that mystify me, that they could work out a compromise with so-called moderate Republicans.
The deeper problem, and one pointed out by many people, is that the Obama administration did not encourage the continued mobilization of its base to blunt the predictable assaults from the political right. As a result, many people sat home waiting to be called upon to mobilize. Instead, we received emails or phone calls asking us to make financial contributions, or perhaps to send a note regarding an issue, but we were not called upon to hit the streets.
Unfortunately, the main problem rests neither with the Obama administration nor the Democrats in Congress. It rests with the failure of the social forces that elected them to keep the pressure on. Too many of us expected results without continuous demand.
Ok, so now that we have gotten this out of our system, we have to face the immediate challenge. I am not going to list the positive things that have been produced by the Obama administration. I am also not going to list the bad calls or stands with which I disagree. I am focusing on those on the right attempting to move in, and frankly they are an unsettling bunch. You see, my enthusiasm for voting rests on the fact that I am not interested in people who worship ignorance, intolerance, war and the strengthening of a plutocracy increasing their grip on power and pulling this country any further to the right than it currently is. In other words, the challenge for progressives is two-fold: one, to beat back the irrationalist right; and, two, to move against the right-wing of the Democratic Party and to push for real change.
Liberals and progressives get called out every election cycle to defend the Democratic Party against the barbarians at the gates. We often do that and then turn away in disgust. Rarely do we either take on the right-wing in the Democratic Party or build up social forces that are energized about keeping elected leaders accountable. We keep talking the talk, but we do not follow through with the walk. When we get angry we talk about creating a third party, but we don’t move a strategy to put the heat under the Democratic Party.
Well, we are now facing a moment of truth. This is not the boy who cried wolf. In addition to the Democratic Congress as a whole being under assault from the Republicans, there are some liberal and progressive Democratic elected officials who are under siege, and about whom we should be concerned. There is an energized, right-wing army waiting to turn back the clock. So progressives should be enthused right now; enthused to defend our friends, but also to defeat our enemies. But we should also be motivated to put into practice a different set of politics. We have got to get off the defensive and promote a different sort of vision, an inspiring, progressive vision. That may mean that we part company with some elected leaders who call themselves Democrats, but the time has come when we cannot afford to simply push the button because we see a donkey. Frankly, I am tired of being kicked in the ass.
The following article is taken from the World Socialist Website
Republicans win sweeping victory in US congressional election
By Patrick Martin
With many results still being counted or too close to call, the US congressional elections have produced a sweeping victory for the Republican Party, which regained control of the House of Representatives, gaining as many as 60 seats, and cut into the Democratic margin in the Senate.
Incumbent Senate Democrats Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were defeated, and Republicans took open Senate seats in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Indiana. The Republican candidate was leading early Wednesday in the contest for Barack Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois.
In the House of Representatives, Republicans took at least four seats from Democrats in New York, two in New Hampshire, one in New Jersey, five in Pennsylvania, five in Ohio, two in Michigan, two in Indiana, three in Illinois, and two in Wisconsin, for a net gain of 26 seats in the industrial Northeast and Midwest. The Republicans also captured at least 15 Democratic-held seats in the South, including three each in Florida, Virginia and Tennessee, and two in Georgia and Mississippi.
Some longstanding congressional Democrats lost their seats, including House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt in South Carolina, Appropriations subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher in the coal-mining region of Virginia, and Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Republican candidates won the lion’s share of the 39 state governorships, taking control of Democratic-held statehouses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee and New Mexico, while retaining Republican-held statehouses in Florida, Texas and Georgia. The Democrats retained New York and Massachusetts and were leading in Illinois and California.
The electoral debacle is a devastating indictment of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. Two years after an overwhelming victory in the presidential election, four years after the Republicans lost control of both the House and the Senate, the right-wing policies of the Democrats have created the conditions for a massive comeback by the Republicans.
Read the rest here
In many ways the One Nation Rally, held in early October by the trade unions and liberal organizations in Washington D.C., anticipated these debates. The following was a 2 part interview was conducted by The Real News with leading members of Progressive Democrats of America.
The World Socialist Website has another view of the One Nation Rally.