Please tell me what have we learned as progressives?
It has been six months since Democrats made the greatest political blunder in modern history. It was glaringly obvious: If you nominate this person, it was going to completely demoralize the activist base, give a MASSIVE shot of political adrenaline to the Republicans, and middle America would think, “Ick! Another career politician.”
This was the political equivalent of your teenage son riding his bike off the roof of your house. You ask, “What in God’s name were you thinking?”
I understand women wanting a female president. I share that goal. And it is certainly true that misogyny played a role in this election across the political spectrum, right, center, and left as well.
But I submit you this: If BILL Clinton had been eligible to run, and had been the nominee—Donald Trump would still be sitting in the White House today.
And millions of Democrats would have stood on Clinton’s ropeline, feverishly cheering him on, working diligently to defeat the progressive candidate.
Have we learned nothing from history?
Donald Trump doesn’t keep me awake at night.
THIS keeps me awake at night: At every turn, the Democratic establishment, and half of Democratic voters, have screwed and abandoned progressive activists.
They’re happy to have us, so long as we’re working to put the Democratic establishment back into power—but the second they get there, it is this:
- Mass surveillance police state? But we HAVE to have that, to protect us from terrorists!
- Well, we certainly need to keep bombing people all over the world, to keep the empire going.
- Single-payer? That’s a pipe dream.
- Free college? What is that, some kind of communism?
- $15 an hour? Why, that’s not realistic! You’ll just have to raise a family on $12!
And on and on and on. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
THAT is what keeps me sitting on my hands right now, as an activist, at a time when we are needed most.
My view is that America is going to have to be so devastated, Americans so utterly destroyed and destitute and desperate, that they will finally be forced to look at baseline, bread-and-butter issues, because they have no other choice.
Where there is hope, they can equivocate; where there is hope, they can spend their time hating Mexicans, or gays. Where there is hope, they can vote for politicians who speak in platitudes, or from paranoia, making vague reassurances about jobs and upward mobility, or promising to bomb their nightmare fantasies away overseas.
Without hope? Different story. Without hope, they will ask:
- Where is the bread coming from? I WANT SPECIFICS.
- My child will never go to college. WE DEMAND EDUCATION!
- My mother died, and my child, and my wife, from lack of healthcare. WE DEMAND UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE, NOW!
These may seem like bleak, dystopian doomsday visions to many middle-class Democratic voters.
But they are reality already for millions across this country, millions who have been left behind, abandoned, so hopeless that many of them turned to Donald Trump in hopes that he would just change something—ANYTHING.
Or, barring that, burn it all to the ground.
They’re dying for progressive change. STARVING for it.
Trump won, largely, on a progressive platform plank: getting out of these insane free-trade agreements. The same agreements pushed by Bill, and Hillary, and Barack Obama. The agreements that have made Wall Street so wealthy, while devastating American workers.
The myriad ways that the Democratic Party establishment has screwed us cannot be listed here. It would be a book.
But the math is pretty simple:
1) Wall Street owned the Republican Party.
2) Reagan destroyed the unions, the lifeblood of the Democratic Party.
3) The Democratic Party then turned to the banks, which were distinct from Wall Street, for contributions.
4) In exchange for the support of the banks, the Democratic Party, under Bill Clinton, agreed to break down the wall of separation between Wall Street and the banks.
5) The banks then became Wall Street.
6) Wall Street then controlled both parties.
The Bible says, “Man cannot serve both God and money.”
Likewise, a party cannot serve both Wall Street and the interests of social and economic justice—of THE PEOPLE.
The two interests conflict. Sharply. They OPPOSE.
Somebody, please: Tell me that a gigantic, blinding light, as hot as the sun, just exploded into your brain. Tell me that you get this. Tell me that I won’t work and sweat and bleed for another four years—for nothing.
Donald Trump’s way is the way of wealth, of oligarchy, of empire.
The Democratic establishment’s way is the way of wealth, of oligarchy, of empire.
Without a clear, complete progressive turn of the Democratic Party, wealth will have its way.
Please, someone, tell me that you have understood?
Otherwise, my activism is a waste of time.
I’d rather go to the beach. §
Sean Shealy is an activist and the author of Corruption & Cover-Ups of the Bush White House Unmasked and the novel Killing Limbaugh.