On facebook, in comments to articles, and in person I often hear socialists, anarchists, and independents say things like "The Dems are as bad as the Republicans" and "Trying to fix the Democratic Party is a hopeless task."
Such views represent a gross exaggeration or distortion of the facts, but they contain a kernel of truth.
The reason such
views are dangerous is that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party
desperately needs the help of socialists, anarchists, and independents
to win back the Democratic Party from corporate Democrats, to defend the
US Senate from extreme Republicans, and to win back the state senate.
There are, in fact, two Democratic Parties. On the one hand (the left hand), there's the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, consisting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, most of the grassroots activists, and associated groups such as PDA, MoveOn, DFA, and DailyKos. On the other hand (the right), there's the corporate wing or "centrist wing" of the Democratic Party, consisting of the White House, members of the House New Democrat Coalition, many governors (including Gov. Inslee), and numerous officeholders.
Often the corporate Dems are progressive on social issues (such as women's rights and gay rights). And they'll often voice progressive-sounding statements about economic inequality, labor rights, militarism, trade agreements, and environmentalism -- especially when they're running for office. But when push comes to shove, the corporate Dems often end up voting with the Republicans to empower the 1% and the military-industrial-financial elite.
Too often, corporate Dems have gone along with the war-mongering of the Republicans. For example, for last week's vote to approve President Obama's request for funding to support Syrian rebels who will (it is hoped) fight ISIS, all Washington State House members but Rep. Jim McDermott voted Yea.
And the centrist Dems seem favorably inclined towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite the state party's platform which is clear that TPP should be opposed.
Still, even the corporate Dems are generally nowhere near as bad as the Republicans, who barely even pretend to care about issues such as the environment, labor rights, income inequality, women's rights, and corporate socialism.
The party-line vote two Thursdays ago to overturn Citizens United in the US Senate is a case in point. All Republicans sided with the rich and powerful by voting against Senate Joint Resolution 19, while all Democrats sided with the people. See Senate Republicans defend billionaires by keeping Citizens United alive. In his 2010 State of the Union speech, President Obama criticized the Supreme Court for the Citizens United decision.
As of August 2013, House Republicans had voted 40 times to overturn Obamcare (ACA).
You can see visually how very different the Republicans are from the Democrats by visiting this article: Visualized grouping of US Congress members by similarities in their voting record. In fact, I modified the image to highlight the members of the Progressive Caucus in green (click on the image for a larger version):
As you can see, Democrats are far from the Republicans. Moreover, the members of the Progressive Caucus are mostly clustered
on the bottom left of the image, far away from the Republicans, with the
corporate Dems between. Progressive Dems
really are different from the corporate Dems.
Consider, too, the policies of Republican governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rick Perry in Texas, and Rick Snyder in Michigan. They repeatedly have voted to cut taxes for the rich, decrease funding for education, and weaken labor rights. Any notion that Democratic governors would have been as bad is totally delusional.
So, in short, people who say the Dems are the same as the Repugs are delusional, or dishonest, or both.
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