There is a war going on in this country and it’s not the war between Democrats and Republicans. It’s a war between progressives—those who represent the interests of the poor and middle classes, people like Elizabeth Warren, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and progressive activists—and Democrats and Republicans who feed at the corporate trough (most Democrats and all Republicans).
Corporate Democrats—like Rep. Steve Israel, Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)—consistently support corporate candidates over progressive candidates. Israel and the DCCC are busy throwing money and resources at reactionary Blue Dog candidates who often vote with Republicans—including Mike McIntyre (NC), Tim Holden (PA), John Barrow (GA), Jim Matheson (UT) Ben Chandler (KY), Nick Lampson (TX), Clark Hall (AR). Rob Wallace (OK), and Leonard Bembry (FL). When they are not doing that they are recruiting Republicans to run as Democrats.
Progressives shut out of the political arena
Progressives who try to compete against corporate Democrats or Republicans are often shut out of the running by lack of money, lack of backing by the DCCC or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), or they are shunned when they refuse to go along with the “slash and burn” politics typical of both parties. In 2010, Russ Feingold, the veteran progressive Democrat from Wisconsin, lost his senate seat to Republican Ron Johnson. Feingold was outspent by Johnson, and he also refused help from the DSCC who wanted to run negative campaign ads against his opponent. Feingold ran a principled , progressive campaign and lost.
In 2010, progressive candidate Arthur Lieber ran against Tea Party incumbent Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and lost. Lieber ran a low-budget, self-funded campaign in Missouri’s Second District. Because the district was heavily Republican, his chances were not good. But what was most striking was the complete lack of interest in his campaign by the Democratic Party of Missouri or the DCCC in Washington. Because Lieber was not an establishment Democrat, the Party and the media ignored him. Instead of working to defeat Akin, for years, the Democratic Party had written off the district. Lieber ran in the Second because no Democrat filed to run, and he felt strongly that voters needed a choice. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less.
Corporate Democrats: A high wire balancing act
Among the top 10 contributors to Sen. Patty Murray, (Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)) are Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser. Among the top 10 for Rep. Wasserman Schultz, (Democratic National Committee Chairwoman), are Boeing, Microsoft and American Crystal Sugar. Corporations give campaign funds to Democrats and Republicans because, in return, they expect policies and legislation that benefit their bottom line. Unlike Republicans, Democrats are expected to vote for the interests of working families and they campaign on the promise to do so. Yet, when Boeing or Weyerhaeuser want something, Murray and Wasserman Schultz have to deliver, because if they don’t, Boeing and Weyerhaeuser will take their money and support elsewhere.
That is the essence of the game in Washington, the balancing act of serving donors while trying to serve constituents. Often, their needs are in conflict. It’s not that Wasserman Schultz and Murray are not interested in their constituents. They both have a good voting record on a lot of issues. The problem is that they are both working within a corrupt political system. They work hard to play the game well and they resent progressives who not only don’t want to play the game, but who want to end the game. For corporate Democrats, playing the game well has additional rewards, including future lucrative jobs in the private sector.
DCCC refuses to take on Ryan, Cantor or Boehner
Down With Tyranny! reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) uses high profile Republican villains like Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and John Boehner to raise money yet they make little or no effort to defeat them in their home districts. For example, Boehner has a 28% approval rating in Ohio, but the DCCC has no intention of taking him on. Boehner, who is raising piles of money for his reelection, will end up giving the money, which may reach upwards of $25,000,000, to other Republican candidates to use against Democrats around the country.
Again, according to Down With Tyranny! for the twelve years he has been in office, DC Democrats have never once seriously challenged Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. This year Ryan has a serious opponent, progressive candidate Rob Zerban, but the DCCC has yet to cut him a check. The DCCC fills its coffers by attacking Ryan in national press releases and attack ads, but refuses to take him on locally in Wisconsin. Why? Ryan gets his cash and power from the same corporate donors who fund establishment Democrats. Obviously, for DC Democrats, taking on certain high profile Republicans is off limits, perhaps because their shared donors have an investment in them staying in office.
A corporate Democrat and Republican meet in a bar . . .
Actually, it wasn’t at a bar, it was backstage at a Fiscal Summit held by the Pete Peterson Foundation in 2011. Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan were both scheduled to speak. Pete Peterson is a billionaire who wants to balance the budget by destroying Social Security and Medicare. The transcript of the conversation, recorded without their knowledge, is about Social Security and Medicare.
Clinton: “I’m glad we won this race in New York, but I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing.”
Ryan: “My guess is it’s gonna sink into paralysis, is what’s gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, it’s just—we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving.”
Clinton told Ryan to call him if he ever wanted to talk about the issue, Ryan said he would, and the two parted.
So, there you have a high profile corporate Democrat, former president Bill Clinton, and Republican Paul Ryan agreeing that Social Security and Medicare are on the table. Which is why you can’t ever trust a corporate Democrat.
So, the moral of the story is this: Vote for Democrats, and work to get them elected, but do so with your eyes open. Vote for them because the alternative is too dangerous. Educate yourself about the level of corruption in the system and keep Democrats feet to the fire. Finally, keep up the good fight for progressive policies and candidates.