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How Liberals Strengthen the Right Wing

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Message shamus cooke

The Democrats look around, blindly, after losing their long-held Senate seat in Massachusetts, and with it their Senate super-majority. They wrongly blame the voters, or their "populist" opponent, but rarely themselves. The Democrats' claim to be "shocked," but this scenario is now too familiar in the U.S. two-party system -- that corporate-owned game of political musical chairs.

Just when it seemed that the Democrats could finally "do something" -- since they had a year of super-majority status in the Senate -- a wrench was somehow thrown in the machinery.

After reaching 60 Senate votes (counting the Independents), a new grouping magically emerged in the party -- the Blue Dog Democrats: not quite Democrat, not quite Republican. And now, because the Democrats have, again, proved they are the "other" party of big business, they've lost their super-powerful congressional status, with many more losses soon to come. Obama has already begun his political retreat, as if he had made any forward progress.

This always seems to happen to the Democrats, because they always fail to do something that motivates people to vote for them. Sure, they can make fine speeches and promises, and even bullying threats against the big banks, but nothing ever positive results, unless they feel threatened by angry, mobilized workers.

The progressive groups who refuse to detach themselves from this corporate party always fall back on the Republican bogeyman to scare people to once again "plug their nose and vote Democrat." Sometimes they preach about the impossibility of forming a third party -- one that represents the working class. Often the Democrat hangers-on point to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and encourage the present Democrats to act like their political ancestor.

Not only has the Democratic Party changed drastically since the Great Depression, but FDR too was guilty of similar crimes as the current, bought-off Democrats. Although he, to be sure, was far bolder -- and his treasury far richer -- than his modern day equivalents, FDR quickly abandoned his jobs programs to funnel money for another familiar and more profitable purpose -- war.

As a result, the once popular FDR received a healthy dose of voter backlash. At the height of his popularity, the Democrats dominated Congress, with an amazing 76 Senators and 334 House members. During the course of Roosevelt's administrations, these numbers plunged to 57 Senators and 242 in the House -- a fact rarely mentioned by today's ravenously pro-FDR liberals. If the Depression-era Republicans were not hopelessly clueless, the Democrats would have fared far worse.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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