The jury may still be out on why we haven’t seen a more unified Democratic Party in the past six to seven years of suffering under President Bush. There is, however, one instance in history that can be used to formulate a presumable indictment of the party and chastise it for becoming a weak power that accepts corporate support.
The Turning Point
This year saw the release of a documentary directed by Steve Skrovan called An Unreasonable Man, which was an inspirational portrait of an American hero known to Americans as Ralph Nader and also a rigorous condemnation of the electoral system Americans allow to exist for the most part without any displeasure at all. The documentary holds much of the answers for why the Democrats are the failure that they happen to be right now, and that is because Ralph Nader opposed Majority Whip Tony Coelho from California during the Reagan-era as Democrats embraced a fascination with K Street fundraising as the answer to beating Republican Party candidates. Prior to Coelho’s decision to embrace corporate power, Nader had been the leader in progressive change with his group Public Citizen helping him every step of the way. The Democratic Party in the 1960s and 1970s took on those reform policies and environmentalist policies but were eventually scared as they were smacked down for championing such policy. The Republicans were becoming a force to be reckoned with, and as the 1970s came to a close, Tony Coelho thought that the only way for Democrats to take on Republicans as gargantuan as Reagan was to allow corporations to dictate what policies were rolled out for voters and that way they could get the funding needed to compete. Presumably, had Ralph Nader been given the respect he deserved, the Democratic Party would not be the disaster it is now.
Anyways, with the door open for corporate interests to move over from the Republican Party and into the Democratic Party, it opened the door to more control of government. There was no longer that other side working against them. The corporate powers systematically planned to swing the governing elitists their way so that all could benefit them from now on.
The labor unions and individual contributions up until 1979 were the crux of the Democratic Party. It was what made the party popular throughout America. The people were not comfortable with corporate power entering the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party was uneasy about letting in corporate power also. The year 1979, however, was when the Democratic Party changed forever, and it hasn’t been the same since.
The move was a disaster. What success was achieved initially dissolved after a long period of time as the Democrats had to surrender one achievement they had made for Americans after another. The party became spineless and filled with politicians who had no conviction. And now in the 21st Century, we see this move as being the reason why Republicans can remove social systems or privatize them, remove institutions of government, and even roll back civil rights.
The two-party system as a result of the decision in 1979 to embrace corporate power meant that K Street Lobbyists would force Democrats in the future to raise as much money as Republicans do so that they could be considered for election. And raising money would require politicians to make deals and agreements on how they would vote on certain bills that may or may not come up in the future. Almost immediately after allowing corporate power in, Democrats from very liberal districts were voting in favor of corporations on environmental issues and other reforms. That immediately set Democrats on a path to eventually lose the support of many of its voters.
The shift caused Democrats to become more like Republicans and set in place a two-party dictatorship. A convergence on the issues occurred in the years that followed and that convergence was reached because both parties were in support of the corporations now. No longer could real progressive candidates run. And forever would it be hard for a third party, fourth party, or fifth party to run because the corporations behind the Democrats and Republicans moved them to act to set up and preserve a system to keep a multiparty system that would include those “other viewpoints” from being established.
The Party’s Last Two Presidential Elections
The situation now shows the effects of the 1979 decision by Tony Coelho every day. Had the party rejected his decision in 1979, one could make the case that they would be better off because now as the GOP is in disarray, the Democrats could have been the party that scraped them into a dust pan and threw them in a trash can never too ruin the lives of Americans ever again. But a rejection was not to be.
Tony Coelho re-entered American politics in 1999 to be the chairman of Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. If he hadn’t become ill and then suffered from a tumor, he would have stayed on with the campaign in the months right before the Democratic Convention and in the months leading up to the November election. William M. Daley stepped in to run the campaign.
After Joe Lieberman became Gore’s pick for vice president, the two began to tour around the nation naturally campaigning for support. What was interesting was the populist rhetoric they were using that much of the corporate powers had frowned upon being used in party campaigns. Many news organizations and editorial websites picked up on it. But in the days following the Democratic Convention the Gore/Lieberman ticket chose not to defend its populism and move to weakening its strengths to gain more support. This editorial on the World Socialist Website cites Lieberman pronouncing:
“There is no rational reason why the markets should be in any way adversely affected by the positions and policies and programs of the Gore-Lieberman ticket.... I hope the business community will conclude this is a pro-growth, pro-business ticket.”- Advertisement -
The Gore-Lieberman ticket went on to win 20 states plus Washington, D.C. But what is most important, besides the fact that the ticket lost after a now infamous Florida recount and Supreme Court Decision, is that Gore won 48.38% of the vote beating Bush by .51% points. That he only won by .51% points and also failed to carry more than 51% of the votes cast in the election was pathetic. For a party that claims to be for the people of America, to only win by such a microscopic margin is evidence of how weak and defective the party is. Had they maintained that populist rhetoric which was giving them an edge in the campaign, they would have performed far better because it was the one time they were ahead of Republicans. Populist rhetoric was why Bush started attacking the ticket for “class warfare”.
One need not dwell over how bad of a candidate Kerry was in 2004. But the feebleness of his candidacy is illustrated by the fact that he lost to George W. Bush of all people. His losing is evidence enough that the Democratic Party lets in the corporate powers just as much as the Republican Party does because had they not allowed them to dictate the 2004 election, Bush would have lost in a landslide. Of course, as Americans found out, Kerry would not stick up for himself as Bush smeared him for being a liberal and hope of winning back America or at that point, getting the lesser of two evils was not to be.
The Party Today