Yesterday I was asked, "Can the Democratic Party be saved?"
I certainly hope so, and I am doing everything I can to make that happen. For two reasons:
Nostalgia -- I first registered Dem in the 1980's, and I was a loyal vote-blue-no-matter-who for decades, in the true belief that the party represented something good. For decades, I was proud to be a Democrat.
Practicality -- the existing Democratic Party is a giant powerful machine, and if this machine can be returned to being a force for good, it will be capable of producing positive winning results more quickly than a third party starting from scratch.
So please keep in mind that the following analysis is written from the heart, by someone who has been a party member her entire adult life.
The question "Can the Democratic Party be saved?" would not have been asked unless there is a perception that the party is in trouble. People at the top (the ones who got us into this mess) protest that perception, because they do not want to be held accountable for the mistakes they have made. That's human nature. But this is not a game. This is real life, with real-life consequences for hundreds of millions of people.
Until we address root causes, we cannot fix this party
If we cannot fix this party, then this party will not win
If the party cannot win, we will not have opportunity to fix the country.
Many in the establishment paint Progressives as a pesky-problem for Democrats (as if only establishment Democrats are real Democrats..!)
Note the recent attack piece ("Democrats Beware: Sanders 'Movement' Turns to Midterms") that employs a plethora of insulting pejoratives to belittle and dismiss leftwing "radicals" who threaten to rock the boat. (Sound familiar? Like, how the corporate media portrayed Bernie and his supporters - every - single - damn - day throughout 2016?)
I respectfully suggest that it would be far more productive to look at the current situation from a more reality-based perspective: Progressives are pushing the Democratic Party to move in the direction it needs to move… to make it a winning party again.
Far from being extreme, progressives are the ones who are in sync with the majority of Americans on most issues.
It is the Democratic Establishment that has drifted so far right that it no longer in sync (or maybe it just does not care? As per the mantra of the Democratic Leadership Conference in the 1990s, "If you have enough money, you don't need people.").
Contrary to what so-called experts at the top are saying, we don't need more identity politics.
We need ECONOMIC policies that help MOST Americans.
84% of Americans are either no better off, or worse off, today, than they were 10 years ago (when inflation is factored in)
50% of WORKING Americans make less than 30k/year
70% of working Americans make less than 35k/year
This is a CRISIS, dammit.
I don’t blame people for not voting Democratic in November 2016. People are hurting. People are afraid of what the future has in store for them and their children. People have been in pain for a very long time.
And yet, all they were promised by the Democratic Party in November 2016 was “more status quo.”
Elites think the status quo is mah-vallous. The other 99%...? Not so much.
The most recent DNC planning summit pushed the same old tired narrative – “the only way to win is to be centrist.”
More politely… Demonstrably untrue.
Elections of the past 10 years have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that Centrism Is a Failing Strategy.
Keep in mind that demographics are on the Democratic Party’s side. Most Americans lean left on social issues, and so does the Dem Party. Where the Dems lost most Americans is on economic issues.
That’s because most Americans alsolean left on economic issues (Social Security and Medicare poll more favorably than any politician except Bernie Sanders, most Americans oppose free trade deals and the export of jobs overseas, most Americans opposed bailing out banksters, most Americans oppose tax give-aways to hugely wealthy corporations, most Americans oppose lowering taxes on the 1%…)
On economic issues, the Dem Party has been drifting right-ward for 30 years, following the big money that flows from giant corporations and Wall Street. By becoming “centrist” on economic issues, the Dem Party has abandoned the working people it used to represent. It has joined the GOP in being a champion for the 1%. (who said “never mind a third party, I just wish we had a second one” ?)
How has this right-ward drift worked out for the Democratic Party?
During the past decade, the centrist Democratic Establishment lost:
69 out of 99 state legislatures
over 1,000 individual seats at the state level
the Supreme Court
and finally, in 2016, they lost the White House (to a clown)
They lost something else, too. 14 million people left the Democratic Party in 2016.
And yet, the Dem Establishment decries progressives for being radical, when we point out the most obvious fact in the world: a change in direction is needed.
Establishment Dems insist we should all ignore their dismal record of failure (rude, to even mention it), and we must all keep listening to them when they say the way to win elections is to be even more centrist.
They want us to trust them and their “secret plan” (Nancy Pelosi was interviewed by Anderson Cooper this week – she assured him the Democrats “have a plan” but gave no details... Because in truth, they have no plan, except “maintain the course” – and thus steer the ship straight into another ice berg.)
The Democratic Establishment has been saying “Trust us, we are the ones with the EXPERIENCE needed...” for years -- and losing.
And losing again.
And then… losing some more.
No. We do not trust them. We have no faith in “leadership” that has produced such a dismal record of failure over so many years.
The minds that created the problem are not the minds that can fix it.
But Deb, you say, if this is such an obvious losing strategy, why do the Dem Elites continue to follow it?
Excellent question! Glad you asked.
The consultants who have been guiding and advising the Democratic Party for decades earn seven-eight figure salaries, and rake in tens of millions in commissions. They make this money regardless of whether the Democratic Party wins or not.
Repeat: they get paid regardless of whether the Dems win or lose.
The only thing that could negatively impact their income is if Progressives took over, and booted the consultants’ failure-ridden loser butts to the curb.
Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?
But Deb, you say, even if they do get paid whether the party wins or loses… Surely there is still more motivation to win, than to lose?
Another excellent question.
Depends on what you mean by “win.”
For these consultants to get paid, the ultimate winners must be the giant corporations who make the giant contributions that pay the consultants’ giant salaries and commissions.
And bottom line is, the needs of these corporations are diametrically opposed to the needs of the people – diametrically opposed to the needs and well-being of the working and middle classes who used to be the Democratic Party’s loyal base.
So, in order to serve their corporate masters, the consultants have been steering the Democratic Party away from the people for decades.
In 2016, the people woke up to this fact.
Steering the Party away from the people lost the Democrats the House. It lost them the Senate. It lost them 69 of 99 state legislatures. It lost them 1,000 individual seats in state legislatures. It lost them most Governorships. It lost them the Supreme Court. And in 2016, it lost them 14 million registered Democrats -- and the White House.
But hey… the consultants still got paid..!
Quite handsomely, too. For the elites at the DNC, this is a game which they cannot lose. No matter the election outcome, the consultants are winners.
The losers, of course, are the American People.
The way I see it, only Progressives and progressivism can save this party.
We need to turn this ship around, return it to being a party of the people and steer it clear of the corporatist-centrist ice bergs that have sunk so many Democratic candidates.
(Remember the proud-to-be-corporatist Blue Dogs? Most are gone now. Remember why Obama caved on the Public Option? To assist 3 centrist Senators who were running for re-election… All three lost their races to Republicans anyway. Turns out, if you give voters a choice between a real Republican vs “Republican Lite”… red voters vote Republican and blue voters stay home. Have the DNC elites learned that lesson? Heck no. If they had, they would not STILL be saying “the only way to win is to be centrist.”)
Progressives can return this to being a party of the people. If it is not a party of the people, it has no good reason to exist.
Donald Trump is not the problem, he’s just a symptom of the problem.
Until we address the root causes that propelled a deranged clown into the White House, we’re not ready to fix the problem.
This is why I am encouraged by Thomas Frank (author of LISTEN, LIBERAL) being the guest speaker at the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus in May. I hope this is not a token gesture, but instead, a real acknowledgement that:
until we address root causes, we cannot fix this party.
If we cannot fix this party, then this party will not win.
If the party cannot win, we will not have opportunity to fix the country.
I was proud to register as a Democrat in the 1980's. I really felt like being a Democrat stood for something honorable, inspirational and great, back then.
I've watched with growing sadness and anger as the party changed for the worse over the decades, as it sold out its base in preference for making love to Wall Street and the Corporate Oligarchy.
I am too stubborn to give up on a once-great party without putting my heart and soul into trying to save it.
Like so many who are now stepping up to the plate, Bernie made me realize that NOW Is The Time For All Good Citizens To Come To The Aid Of Their Country (if not now, when?).
That’s why I am now a first-time-ever delegate to the California Democratic Convention, and an unapologetic progressive who recognizes that WE are the ones in sync with the rest of the country. Not the wealthy status-quo-loving establishment Democrats, who are so woefully out of touch with everything except their wealthy donors’ wish lists.
The Democratic Party needs to become meaningful and useful again (useful to Main Street, not Wall Street).
First, we need to restore the Party’s integrity and core values (pull back the curtains, throw open the windows, let the sunshine in... restore democracy to the party).
Second, we need to give working-class people good, positive, ECONOMIC reasons to vote Democratic.
Only then will we start winning again.
Only then will we deserve to win.
Originally printed in the Lake County News on 7/27/2011 and the Record Bee on August 2. Reprinted here with permission from the author.
Consumers Have Right to Know
by Deb Baumann
Earlier this year, Canadian scientists
researching utero-placental toxicities reported that blood from 93
percent of pregnant women, and blood from 80 percent of their
umbilical-cords, contained a pesticide from Monsantos Bt MON810 (the
most common genetically modified corn).
Human blood containing toxins from GMO crops?
That was not supposed to happen.
MON810 was released into the US food supply over a decade ago,
government approval was based on Monsantos own word that the toxin in
the corn would pass harmlessly through the human body during digestion.
independent research or testing was done, to verify Monsantos claim.
No long-term animal trials were done, to determine effects on multiple
generations. And, no human trials were done.
every cell of our corn contains a deadly pesticide. But don't worry! We
assure you the toxin will just pass right through human digestive
tracts. Take our word on that."
bowing to pressure for de-regulation, that's what the USDA and FDA did.
They approved MON810, and other genetically modified crops, over
objections from their own scientists.
countries chose to follow what is known as The Precautionary Principle.
Based on real science (as opposed to Corporate-bought-science), they
seek to understand long-term affects on health and the environment,
before popping the lid off Pandoras Box.
on testing done elsewhere (since independent testing is not done here
in the USA), many countries have outright banned Mon810. Thailand
(producer of a third of all rice consumed in the world) has banned GMO
rice. The list of GMO products banned in other countries is very long...
products which unwitting and unwilling US consumers have been eating for
Corporate Ag has been very successful at hiding the truth from Americans.
A 2006 study found that only 26 percent of American consumers believed they had ever eaten genetically modified food, while a 2010 survey reported that only
28 percent of respondents knew such foods were sold in stores. (Los
Angeles Times 6-2-2011, "Debate rages over labeling of foods with
genetically modified ingredients").
The truth is, most Americans consume GMOs daily. Not because they want to. But because they are not allowed to know.
In almost every developed nation in the world except the United States, labeling of GMO foods is mandatory. In
England, consumers are allowed to choose. In France they have that
choice. In countries of the former Soviet Union, consumers have that
choice. In China, they have that choice.
But not in the USA.
preferred a "wait and see" moratorium, so they could see what happened
to the first generation born and raised on GMOs in the USA.
And what has happened to the US population in the 15-20 years since GMOs were introduced to our food supply?
Chronic Disease rates and Severe Food Allergy rates: Doubled (from 6 percent to 13 percent).
much of that doubling of our chronic disease (mostly GI tract) and food
allergy rates can be directly attributed to consumption of GMOs?
In the absence of labeling, how could we begin to answer that question?
absence of labeling would seem to be working rather to the advantage of
Big Ag and Corporate Food, don't you think? Certainly hard to identify
need for product recalls, when we have no way of knowing which products
are making us sick.
years after it was introduced with the unsubstantiated promise that it
would "pass through the human digestive tract," we now know that
Monsanto's claim that its GMO Bt toxin would be expelled by our
digestive tracts was wrong. Instead, it remains in our blood.
learn more, read food industry professional Robyn O'Brien's THE
UNHEALTHY TRUTH, How Our Food is Making Us Sick ( http://www.robynobrien.com )
Without consumer choice, there is no free market. We have a right to know - label GMO's! click HERE
Locally grown organic produce contributes to economy in many ways
14 April 2009 by D. Baumann, published as commentary in the Lake County News and the Record Bee, re-printed here with author's permission.
On April 7 Santa Rosa Press Democrat published an article about Lake County (http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20090407/LIFESTYLE/904079870)
that is well worth reading. Lake County has been the butt of other
area's jokes for many years. Residents can be cheered to see public
perception shifting in such dramatic positive ways, because a change in
perception leads to other changes. “How others see us” has a direct
effect on tourism and investment dollars. While no one is prospering in
today's dire economy, articles like this one plant seeds for future
per the above-mentioned article, old jokes are being replaced by
awestruck hyperbole describing uniquely beautiful scenery, picturesque
towns, wineries, hotels and eateries, wholesome locally grown food, and
a healthy outdoor lifestyle. All of which translates into potential for
a more prosperous future here. Prosperity that is based on the unique
assets we already have.
that could elude us, if we go the route of becoming just another
"Generica, USA," our towns' streets crowded with the same familiar
national-chain retail signs that you find everywhere, our agricultural
products no different than those of Corporate/Industrial farm products
that dominate the Central Valley.
made this article resonate so strongly for me is that, as a newbie
(since 2006), my first impressions of Lake Country were "Wow! Wow!" and
"WOWWWWW!" How could I have been previously unaware of the existence of
this gorgeous area? And it was affordable! Although raised in Northern
California, I went to college and started a career down south, where I
remained a renter for 25 years because anything worth buying was beyond
my price range. Here in Lake County, I was blown away by the abundance
of gorgeous properties available for less than the cost of a
one-bedroom condo elsewhere.
moving here, it took me awhile to realize that the magic I saw in this
place did not seem so obvious to many of the current residents. I heard
jokes about the single-wide lifestyle, meth labs, pot farms and even
swimming pools empty of water but full of old beer cans. People with no
sarcastic intent speak longingly of a desire for more fast food outlets
and big box stores. An elementary study of retail economics explains
why going that route would further destroy the local economy, but it is
hard to explain to people who are desperate for something, for
anything, that there really are alternatives that are worse than
nothing. Articles like this one show the positive potential of the
prosperity that is already hovering on the horizon, if we make better
choices in shaping our county's future.
place is without challenges. But jeepers-creepers! We're miles ahead of
other areas, just on the basis of our natural resources.
intelligent planning, some prudent avoidance of mistakes that other
areas have made, and we are well on our way to being the Tuscany of the
west coast. An attractive place for companies to re-locate, where costs
are low but the beauty of the surrounding area can help attract and
retain high-tech employees seeking a cleaner environment to raise their
children closer to nature. A "must-go" destination for tourists with a
yen for beautiful, unique places, organic food and wine, and a healthy
outdoor lifestyle (of which there are only a million or so, in the
nearby Bay Area alone). Prosperity based on sustainable lifestyles and
protecting our natural assets is REAL prosperity, one that will can
sustain future generations indefinitely.
farmers can be very much a part of that new prosperity, which has
already begun to be defined as revolving around fresh, wholesome
locally grown food.