I ran across this clip from “The West Wing” the other day. It really made me think (and convinced me that I have to watch this show). How could it be stated more succinctly? This is what liberals have done for us:
This make me wonder: where are the liberals now? Why aren’t they stopping the constant attacks on our social safety net? Ostensibly they are in the Democratic Party; but the Democratic Party is not the liberal party anymore. There is no party for the liberals. Don’t feed me that bull about the Libertarian Party being the party of liberals either. Most Libertarians would like nothing more than to completely remove the social safety net in lieu of what can only be called social Darwinism. If anything the Libertarian Party is the party of yes small government and austerity (you know what the Republicans claim to be). But I digress, there is no place for liberals in any political party today. There is just a huge ugly mess to clean up after the two ‘parties’ just trashed the house; and there are no parents to come back and scold them for the damage they have done. Well, not unless the American people can start acting like responsible parents instead of spoiled selfish brats.
Why can’t you call the Democratic Party liberal? Often the reason is subtle, like their perceived inability to act. The main problem though is that you can’t call the Democratic Party liberal just simply because it opposes a slightly more conservative party. We need to face the fact that the Democratic and Republican parties have moved steadily to the right for the last twenty to thirty years. Sadly, liberals, by in large, have not noticed that the Democrats no longer represent their interests; instead they represent banks, lawyers, and the corporatocracy, not in word, but in deed.
Let me illustrate how far to the right the Democratic Party has slid by reviewing some of what the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have done or allowed to be done since President Obama took Office:
- Renewed the Patriot Act even though president Obama and many Democrats campaigned against it (Praise to Denis Kucinich for voting against it)
- Cut Pell grants (In addition to last year’s cuts)
- Campaigned for single payer health care and settled for a health care bill authored by the Heritage Foundation (The most conservative think tank in my opinion)
- Continued extraordinary rendition abroad (in Guantanimo Bay etc. – 54 countries total)
- Allowed the executive branch to decree that it has the right to pronounce ‘due process’ via an executive review team – allowing it to kill American citizens without ever having a court date
- Allowed the use of drones on American soil against American citizens
- Aggressively pursued the use of drones to target foreign “terrorists” abroad (Against International Law)
- Cracked down on whistle-blowers (Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Steven Kim, etc.)
- Participated in new wars without congressional approval (Libya & Mali)
- Redefined what it means to be in a war, effectively ignoring the War Powers Resolution, as has every president since it was passed (Libya)
- Reappointed Robert Gates, George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense
- Appointed Timothy Geithner, a central banker, as the Secretary of Treasury (nothing like an industry regulating itself)
- Attempted to appoint John Brennan as the Director of the CIA twice despite being supportive of torture and being an architect of the drone program (this deserves its own article)
- Supported authoritarians, dictators, puppet regimes, and kingdoms abroad (Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Yemen, Qatar - just looking at the Middle East)
- Maintained and expanded the ruthless free trade paradigm that decimates the developing world and American industrial workers (Colombia and Panama)
- Allowed new offshore oil drilling permits at an accelerated pace mere months after the most costly oil spill in American history in the Gulf of Mexico – without imposing any useful new regulations
- Offered to cut Social Security and Medicare to avoid the “fiscal cliff” (These programs do not affect our country’s debt – they are self-sustaining and easily made solvent long term)
- Allowed the renewal of the majority of the Bush tax cuts that favor the rich under the pretense of protecting the poor.
- Continued the war on drugs (long ago discredited)
- Requested and received the willing suppression of the publication of news for reasons of “national security” (BBC story here)
- Pardoned the companies that committed warrant-less wiretapping under the Bush Administration (OK this was W. Bush era – but U.S Senate Democrats, including Obama, voted for the bill)
- Refused to prosecute Bush Administration officials that justified, allowed, and committed acts of torture
- Continued warrant-less wiretapping by approving the FISA bill while government officials maintain that they cannot even estimate how many American citizens have been snooped on as a result.
I could go on but you get the point.
So who is speaking for the liberals now? With the exception of Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison I honestly have no idea. We lost Denis Kucinich. We lost Barnie Frank. We lost Anthony Weiner . Who else is left (pun intended)?
We could try for a new liberal political party. One problem with this approach is that the Supreme Court has sanctioned the two-party system by allowing laws in various states that make third parties more difficult to form (I will address this in the future). Another problem is splitting the ‘liberal vote’ which could mean a series of Republican wins and majorities for a long time to come.
So I guess it’s up to us guys. We have to protest. We have to push our politicians to represent our interests. We have to make calls and write letters to our congressmen. We have to get the money out of politics (or legalized bribery as I like to call it). We have to push for run-off voting. We have to push for an end to the two-party system. We have to elect officials that will stand up for our rights. If they don’t represent our interests we need to promptly attempt recall elections when possible, or at least vote them out after their term is done. I wish I had better suggestions. I welcome your ideas. Seriously, help.