Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > The Democratic Party, in its Current Form, has No Worthwhile Future: 2

The Democratic Party, in its Current Form, has No Worthwhile Future: 2

In the previous post of this series, I had written about how the democratic party establishment plus its major supporters and financiers have been thrown in total disarray by the surprising (to them) election of Donald Trump. It seems that most of them are still in deep denial about the combination of factors and trends which led to the humiliating defeat of their chosen candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Even more troubling, is their almost complete unwillingness to analyse and act upon factors behind the slow-motion electoral rout of their party at multiple levels of government throughout the entire country. While the democratic establishment and its flunkies have put forth a number of reasons for their massive electoral losses at both the federal and state levels, it is clear that they are trying to avoid the proverbial elephant in the room- low turnout of voters for their candidates.

So why is the democratic establishment so unwilling to confront the real reasons behind low voter turnout for their candidates? Why are democrats so obsessed with talking about various voter suppression laws passed by republicans which have, at best, a marginal effect on the ultimate outcome? Why are they unwilling to address the far higher numbers and percentages of eligible voters who choose to not vote in any election? Would it not make sense to increase the low turnout among working class voters- who tend to vote for democratic candidates? Furthermore, why have democratic politicians been rather unwilling to actually pass legislation which would increase electoral turnout (for example- by making voting easier and more convenient) when they had the ability to do so. Why are establishment democrats obsessed with who votes for them, rather than how many cast their votes for them?

Well.. it comes down to one the conspicuously unsaid but fundamental precepts of the neoliberal worldview that is the official ideology of both major parties in USA and indeed all major political parties in countries of the so-called “democratic west”. Neoliberalism works only as long it operates in a command-control type of socio-economic-legal environment. In other words, neoliberalism cannot function in anything approaching a functional democratic socio-economic-legal environment. Now, this inherent contradiction poses a peculiar problem for all those supposedly democratic countries in the “west”. How can the government and elites in such countries retain the veneer of democratic legitimacy while continuing to act in an undemocratic and authoritarian manner? For almost 40 years, elected officials from all major political countries in the so-called “democratic” west have addressed this contradiction by increasing levels of voter suppression by consciously, and unconsciously, discouraging them from voting.

Ever wondered the rates of voter participation have kept on dropping in almost every single “democratic” western country over the last 40 years? Why are so many people, especially in younger age groups, not interested in voting? Perhaps most tellingly, why are the majority of political parties in these countries not concerned about this progressive decline? Why do they almost never do anything to address this issue beyond paying lip-service to it near election time? If you ask people who do not vote about the reasons behind their decision- they will tell you, almost to the last person, that they do not believe that their vote makes a difference. If you dig down a bit further, they will tell you they do not believe (with good reason) that their elected representatives will ever legislate in their interests.

A significant percentage of people in the supposedly “democratic” west have come to the realization that their elected representatives are not answerable to those who elected them. Even worse, every conventional political party in countries as (allegedly) diverse as USA, UK, France and Sweden is utterly beholden to elites- especially of the financial and managerial type. For a long time (late 1970s- 2012?) there was no real alternative for the rapidly rising percentage of people who were unhappy with the official range of choices for political representation. The elected representatives of conventional political parties were, however, quite happy with this situation as it allowed them to maintain the veneer of democratic legitimacy while they were servicing their moneyed elite masters. It is worth mentioning that this situation was tenable for so long largely because inertia kept covering up (if somewhat incompletely) the growing numbers of cracks in the system. Then 2008 happened..

Sophistic CONmen (academics from “famous” universities) and other assorted public “intellectuals” want people to believe that the 2008 financial crisis was the direct initiator for our current era of political instability. I would argue otherwise. The financial crisis of 2008 was, if anything, the end of an era. More specifically, it marked the end of an era marked by widespread public support for the neoliberal worldview. Prior to 2008 a majority of people in the west were willing to believe that the neoliberal way of doing things might, one day, let them become part of elite or at least the upper-middle class. The financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent establishment reactions to it destroyed the last vestige of hope that kept people from challenging the increasingly disconnected and authoritarian nature of their “democratically elected” governments.

I would argue that the response and reactions of credentialed “experts” and elected officials to the 2008 crisis between 2009 and 2012, rather than the actual event, heralded the current era of political instability. The resurgence of hard leftist and populist right-wing parties in western European countries, the Brexit vote in 2016 and the election of Trump in 2016 are therefore responses to exposure of the almost complete incompetence of the conventional political establishment in those countries. It does not help that all conventional political parties in these countries are almost totally controlled by moneyed elites. The aftermath of the 2008 crisis also reopened supposedly settled questions such as the inevitability, let alone the desirability, of “free trade” and “internationalism”. In short, it made many once respectable ideas and their promoters people look like greedy tools and confabulating idiots.

But what does any of the stuff I talked about in the preceding paragraphs have to do with the future of the democratic party in USA and its inability to increase voters turnout for its candidates? As it turns out.. a lot!

The democratic party in the USA, like its republican counterpart, is a conventional political party full of politicians and advisers who cannot imagine a world that is not based in neoliberalism. Consequently they will do anything and everything in their power to maintain the status quo- even if doing so destroys them in the end. That is why the democrats keep blaming everybody except HRC and themselves for their shitty performance in the most recent election cycles. You might have noticed that even an electoral defeat as humiliating as the one dealt to them in 2016 has not resulted in any worthwhile changes in their focus, overall strategy and leadership. They have, if anything, doubled down on all their pre- Nov 8 positions and will make themselves irrelevant in the near future- at least in their current form. I predict that the republicans will also suffer the same fate once they become the incumbent (and largely unopposed) party at all levels of the federal government.

Establishment democrats are not, and were never really, interested in raising general voter turnout for their candidates because that would result in the selection and election of candidates who were not beholden to their moneyed elite patrons. That is a reason that establishment democrats punch left, rather than right. That is why HRC was far more interested in getting the votes of suburban white republican women than poor working class whites. It was always about finding enough voters who were willing to vote for perpetuating neoliberal agendas. Establishment democrats don’t hate working class whites because the later might be racist. They hate them because getting their votes requires making and keeping some populist promises. Establishment democrats love black voters because getting their votes has (at least until now) not required them to make and keep any populist promises. Similarly they love hispanic voters because getting their votes does not require them to promise anything that is not on a neoliberal checklist.

The preference of establishment democrats for getting votes by appealing to identity politics, rather than class politics, should therefore be seen as part of a strategy to win elections without making promises which might contradict the neoliberal agenda. While they have had some success with this general strategy in past elections (especially in 2008 and 2012), it is clear that it is not working- inspite of demographic trends which were supposed to make it even more successful. As it turns out, an increasing number of people are no longer interested in voting for candidates who have no desire (or ability) to improve their lives. However the magnitude of institutional inertia in the democratic establishment is still too high for it to make the necessary strategy and personal changes necessary to win in 2020, let alone 2018. I expect them to double, triple and quadruple down on their positions and ride their hobby horses into electoral irrelevancy. But don’t worry.. establishment republicans will join them in that quest within 2-4 years.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. neoconned
    December 29, 2016 at 1:24 am

    While I agree mostly with your conclusion that the GOP is headed toward the same fate now suffered by the Democrats, they will do great harm to the nation as they go down. The incredibly negative activity which their dominant rise to total power has unleashed is not going to crash and burn like the party which spawned them. If anything, they will become stronger and less restrained in their attacks upon their perceived enemies. There is no functioning opposition to stop them.

    That is correct. The demise of the democratic and republican parties will destroy the status quo- and this includes the current setup of USA.

  2. blackdude
    December 29, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    “That is correct. The demise of the democratic and republican parties will destroy the status quo- and this includes the current setup of USA.”

    Can you do a post on this? How will this happen, what will follow, and what is the timeline in your opinion??

    I intend to do that in the near future.. perhaps starting sometime in the upcoming week.

  3. A.B. Prosper
    December 29, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    The GOP has a bit of a longer of a shelf life. They’ve gained hugely (1000+ seats at various levels) since Obama and its going to take a while for the internal contradictions of the party to catch up to it.

    It won’t matter when there is no functional nation left to govern.

    In the end though, I have to agree its probably all moot, the US will probably end up with some kind of civil war and/or collapse by the mid to late 2030’s. This is one of those “non recoverable” mega kill wars waiting to happen

    Trumps is more of a delaying action, CW2= 20 years minus successful Trump more or less, than a real fix and while far better than any of the alternatives, in his own way he is still stuck in the Industrial age .

    The real changes which need to be at the baseline of the society are hard to make, failure to address demand destruction from automation, social stress from diversity and to make sure that the basics are covered will exaggerate existing trends and the mild ethnic cleansing we have here in California say will accelerate

    I ran some estimates in my head on just civil ammo stores and it looks like at least 10 billion additional rounds per presidential term . So its going to be bloody too.

    Or it could be more like what permanently happened to UK and France after WW2 or Russia between 1989-1999.

    • A.B. Prosper
      December 29, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      I don’t think the US will end up nearly as well off though I agree there is only a small recovery window

      . Russia was 80% + Russian and the other 95% “UK” or 90+% French or whatever and the differences between incompatible were mostly smaller.

      The US has no real majority and plenty of dislike between groups. I could very well see say BLM or La Raza simply going to ethnic cleansing and given the current situation Y/T and Asian and everyone else is going to be a lot less passive than now

      Implosion into several smaller or many nations however is highly possible and in some ways is a good outcome. Nearly every sizable nation state is too large anyway and smaller more homogeneous nations where the elite have limited mobility and ability to shield themselves from consequences are governable

      In any case high fragility areas like the Southwest are screwed though .Water is a weapon.

  4. neoconned
    December 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

    “The financial crisis of 2008 … marked the end of an era marked by widespread public support for the neoliberal worldview.”

    I generally agree with this observation.

    “Prior to 2008 a majority of people in the west were willing to believe that the neoliberal way of doing things might, one day, let them become part of elite or at least the upper-middle class.”

    I can state with certainty that my PARTICIPATION as an employee of a corporation which greatly benefits from supporting neo-liberal activities has allowed me to just breach the barrier of attaining the upper-middle class status. As long as I was benefiting from it, and I didn’t see any overt neocon efforts on the part of my employer (who must remain unnamed lest I suffer economic harm), I was willing to ignore the connection. I never believed in that system beyond that my pay check would be on time.

    My offering this information is to verify the unmodified idea being presented in the post. For despite the changes since 2008, many with whom I continue to work still hold such a belief that if they work hard, win good reviews, and pay for their own MBA, they too have a chance to attain a very good retirement. They don’t see the increasing number of foreign H-1b visa holders filling the professional ranks. They don’t see how the Republicans are about to take Social Security away at the same time the employers are eliminating any form of old age income.

    As for the balance of the post, I lean in agreement with the thoughts presented. I merely differ to a slight degree on the motivation of the voters to abandon the Democrats.

    Several relatives live under my roof -and sustained under my income- due to the economic conditions which prevent them from establishing themselves as self-supporting. All have been Democratic voters since they don’t see the Republicans representing an improvement in their interests.

    The problem for the Democrats is that they no longer do either. Bernie Sanders had a lot of support at my address, and we were seriously disappointed after he announced his clearly calculated support for Hillary since no one under my roof saw any hope of changing the Party as Bernie espoused. She received no votes from us, but who did? Not Trump. Jill Stein got one vote, and the others either wrote someone in (which is an iffy effort considering that a candidate has to ask the state of CA to recognize and count such votes for President. All other such attempts invalidate the ballot.) or left that part of the ballot blank. Many more in this nation had to have recognized that dilemma and acted in similar manners.

    As I see things, the average person is going to continue to rise in anger over the ever more blatant disdain for us and our condition. Few now recognize the laws put in place by Clinton, Bush, and now Obama to allow the government to act extra-judicially and impose martial law and treat all arrested under those laws as enemy terrorists. Trump will use those laws. You will have no rights.

    I don’t yet see a way to counter this growing neoliberal corporatist governance being imposed on us short of recommending that people read Martin Luther King’s Mountaintop speech, in particular for his economic recommendations on how to deal with a system which avidly takes from you but gives you nothing in return. We have reached such a place in the United States, and probably globally. The only strategy remaining as I see it is to use our chains to pull the temple down.

  1. December 30, 2016 at 12:26 am

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