This seems to be the great question of the age in regards to politics lately: Why don't the Democrats win elections anymore? Most of the country doesn't appear to like our glorious leader George II, so how come he is still around? How the hell did they lose the 2004 election when the thing was just laid out for them? They seem, kind of like the New York Jets, to be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and I've got some ideas about why this is. Some may be speculation, and other pieces I know are true. Either way, never let the crazed fat cat Republicans convince you that America is getting "more Conservative", because that's simply bullshit concocted by the Republican war machine in order to discourage those of us who will continue to fight the good fight.
Some say that the Democrats have lost touch with regular people, the everyday fellas who go out and break their asses all day in the sun, then just want to go home, have a six pack, and watch Gladiator. Is this true?
These guys probably voted Democrat. Would they now?
To a degree, I have to say that Democrats have lost the vote of the men in this country. They are no longer seen as the workingman's party, as the party of those of us who see more in common with the thick forearm holding a hammer than the skinny one holding a pen. The Democrats seem, even to me, to be a babbling bunch of very rich men (and women who look like men) who rarely make any points worth talking about anymore. Men seem to be convinced that Democrats are just elitists who don’t care about the regular people in the country, when, in fact, it has been historically the opposite, with Republicans being the fat cat elitists. Their tenets have not changed at all, but the perception of Democrats is what has changed.
There's a point in a boxing match when you can tell that someone has taken the initiative. There is one guy who is moving forward, jabbing, throwing the occasional cross, and generally just moving forward, while the other guy is consistently backing up, bobbing and weaving, and trying to do little more than just get out of the way of the aggressor's punches. These are the Democrats right now. They are so busy reacting to what the Republicans do that they've forgotten how to win in the first place. It isn't about whoring yourself out in order to get voted in, it's about standing by your principles and letting the people come to you. People have figured out that the laissez-faire capitalist system simply doesn't work; this was discovered long ago with things like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the Molly Maguires. The Republicans want it back to where it was, so that the bosses can prosper. It's a pretty simple equation, really; the Right believes in business, and that the free market solves its own problems eventually, and the Left believes in more of a social contract, where the government has the right to step in if something is going on that is morally wrong, or dangerous to the workers.
Of course, the neoconservatives have made it seem like that belief system is just the pinnacle of European socialism, and to believe in such a thing is un-American and leads to a welfare state where no one works and everyone sits around smoking cigarettes and thinking about how entitled they are. I mean, I'm impressed, of course, because fooling the masses like this is not something that is easy to do, but the right has pulled it off. By making folks believe this shit, they are making it seem like Democrats are more and more the fringe, the remnants of socialism which should be stricken from American soil altogether.
Essentially, Democrats are scared. They are worried about being relegated to the annals of History as that party that was out of touch, like the Know Nothings of the 1850s. While part of me understands this, part of me is enraged at the cowardice they've exhibited. Their biggest accomplishment has been what? Killing social security? That gives them the right to clap for themselves at Bush's State of the Union address? What about that war that you got us into, that all of you should have been opposing? What about the 35 million people living below the poverty line (in this country), the ones that Bush is attacking right now? What about Halliburton, what about WMDs, what about Osama?
The fact is they've rolled over and died. They've been trying to court those people in the middle for so long that they've forgotten what they originally stood for, and that is why they are falling. Is this really the party of Roosevelt? Is this the party that led the fight against the bosses, the war against looking at people as just numbers?
Once, long ago, the Democrats stood for protecting the environment. They wanted to preserve open spaces, reduce the damage done by logging and strip mines, and raise the standards on auto emissions to look something like California's. They were against drilling in ANWR, and they were for the Kyoto Treaty.
That was long ago. They have refused to take the banner of environmentalism, and, in part, have given the Republicans even more ammunition when they say that everything is a "crazy, enviro-lib PETA movement aimed at destroying businesses to save a couple butterflies". The Democrats, again, have done little to counter this. They could, of course, just stand up and go, "Hey, this is the only fucking planet we can live on, we might want to take care of it". But then, of course, they might not get reelected, because America hates it when you take a stand on your principles.
This was once the party of those who would have a floor that no man could fall below, a cutoff as to how much men should starve in dark times. Now, they are the party that is simply an annoying bit of white noise in Congress, no more important or noticed than the air conditioners that hum incessantly.
The Republicans have pulled that pendulum all the way back to the right, and it slips from their grasp, it can travel a long way in the other direction. Social justice and progressivism may be lying bleeding in the corner with its tail between its legs, but it is not dead. It is possible to resurrect it, and strengthen it like it never has before.
It's going to take a return to traditional Democratic ideals, such as helping the workers, breaking monopolies, helping the "little guy" (i.e. the family hardware store, not the Home Depot) in order for them to win their voting base back. They don't need to try and court Republican voters- they aren't going to vote Democratic, and they should know this. They need to reestablish their base, which is minorities, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and workers. This is the kind of thing that wins the working men of this country back over- defending them against the seemingly unstoppable march of the huge corporations and big box stores. They need to be leading the fight against racism, against sexism, and all the other “-isms” that the Republicans have assured us have died out, and are no longer relevant. Most importantly, they need to appeal to the regular guys again, the guys who pay their Union dues, the guys who work the 9-9 shifts, and the guys who they should be trying to help. They need to be tough, angry, and ready to fight the Republicans, and to be able to propose good alternatives to the Neo-cons fascist plans. And they need to now
When this happens, they will win elections again. And then, maybe I'll vote for them with a clear conscience again.