[From February 2004]
I come from a Democrat-voting household. I've got no reason to suspect that either of my parents have ever voted anything other than Democrat. They likely have a few [unfortunate] disagreements in general ideology, such as on the issue of a woman's right to choose, but otherwise are what I'd call strong Democrats.
That said, the Democratic Party is the most worthless excuse for a political organization this country has today. I don't just mean in its lack of a cohesive ideology or vibrant vision; I mean in it's ability to do anything, to stand up to adversity, or to even speak out against the Republicans. Not that I'm all broken up inside because of this -- I'm an anarchist and thus opposed fundamentally to the idea of party politics (at least as its constructed in its current configuration).
Outside of this strong disdain for electoral and party politics, there's still more to criticize. The Democrat Party tends to select the most moderate candidates possible. Sure, their traditional support may be liberal or even Left, but they always pick the most soda pop candidates (would you like Coke or Pepsi?) Thus, the Party was stuck with the horrendously lame Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential election. Can you think of a more boring candidate? Even in this example, however, Gore was more of a conservative than even his moderate (yet Republican-leaning) pal Bill Clinton.
Election in and election out, the Democrats focus on little more than complaining about their Republican counterparts. Sure, there's a lot to complain about, but frankly it's really easy to do so. And many liberal-leaning constituencies of the Democrats take up this Republican-bitch-fest, too. It's like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin's criticism of Anti-Racist Action for focusing only on the obvious racists like the Klan or Nazis, when the real problem with racism in this country has other names: the police, the courts, the prison system, the "War on Drugs", capitalism...
Thus, when Democrats open their mouths to make “strong statements”, it's usually against the Republicans (who often act much like the Democrats). Around election time it's the same story. Complain about either the Republican candidates or the incumbent Republicans. Heaven forbid they should actually bring up “daring” issues (outside of the usual “law and order” and tinkering with Medicaid) like universal health care, dismantling America's war machine, stopping the drug war and the prison industry, attacking corporate rule, and so forth. Instead, they are much more content to complain about Republicans and then argue amongst themselves over “safe” issues. How lame!
Even more cowardly is the tendency of the party to rally-round-the-flag during war. Sure, the Democrats may feel confident to challenge the Bush regime for its WMD claims nearly 11 months after invading Iraq, but do they ever bother bringing up the fact that the war was highly illegal, unpopular, unethical, etc.? Or, more fundamentally, did they even open their mouths before the war started to criticize it? Well, some did. But, the war resolutions in Congress couldn't have been won without strong Democrat support. And then as soon as the war started even these Democrats tucked their tails between their legs and mumbled platitudes about “supporting the troops” and the “Commander-in-Chief”. It apparently takes a lot of effort to resist the urge to lick boot leather.
The Democrats are equally shameless in their pursuit of Big Money. Sure, they can't seem to out-raise the Republicans, but it's not for a lack of trying. Enron was paying off lots of Democrats, too. Of course, if they ever pumped their efforts into actually speaking to real people as opposed to stalking every potential millionaire donor, they might actually find their message resonates more. And, they might not be perceived as the utter hypocrites they are. These politicians snap to attention when their corporate overlords come calling. Take a look at how happily the Clinton-Gore machine gave away the National Forests to mining and logging interests.
The sad thing is how uncritically the traditional Democratic Party base continues to support these characters, particularly unions and minorities. These politicians have sold down the river the rights of working people to corporations along with the dream of racial equality and economic justice. Being in neither demographic, I am not in a position to say why this support continues, nor should I say that they are necessarily wrong to do so. But, I fantasize about a day when the people can utilize their collective strength to push this party (kicking and screaming, if need be) out of the right-wing that controls it, back into the Left. Either that or start supporting other alternatives, like the Green Party.
All these criticisms stem from a strong cynicism of electoral and party politics. I'm not one to denigrate someone for wanting to vote, even if for a Democrat candidate, but I believe that true societal transformation -- an r/evolution that can achieve social and economic justice -- must be arrived at through a revitalization of democracy, not electoral/party politics, and definitely not through this whack Democrat Party.