"I'm not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."
-- Will Rogers
Will Rogers quipped this gem in 1935. At the time, the Democrats were a chaotic, ragtag coalition of various popular interests, pulling together New Dealers, organized labor, and Yellow Dog Dems from the Old South.
But today the Democratic machine is ruled with an iron fist by the DNC. The party is bursting at the seams with grassroots progressives, but policy is being held fast to the pro-business, neo-Liberal line. We know how the DNC spiked Bernie's run for the White House. This was not an isolated incident; progressive, independent candidates are being systematically put down and replaced by those who will follow orders and not threaten corporate profits.
The mainstream narrative about the shift in the Democratic party begins with Bill Clinton's brilliant "triangulation" strategy in the 1990s. In this story, he won the election by stealing the Republicans' thunder, "ending welfare as we know it", de-regulating the banks, and mortgaging his Bully Pulpit to push through the first of the comprehensive "free trade" agreements, NAFTA.
In this story, the electorate is moving to the right, more and more with each election, and the Democrats have to shift their rhetoric and their platform to keep pace. Every time a Republican goes to the White House, every time a Democratic party-liner is defeated by a Tea Party rebel, this story is trotted out to justify the inexorable rightward drift.
Well, there's another way to look at this picture. In fact, the Democratic Party is well to the right of Democratic voters, and probably to the right of the nation as a whole, including reds and blues. For every "centrist" voter that the Democrats pick up by triangulating, they probably lose two on the left--people who abandon the party, sit out the election, register as independent, vote Green or Libertarian.
The power-brokers in control of the party machinery know exactly what they're doing. They know they're losing net votes. They prefer to lose an election and stay in control than to win with an independent, Will Rogers Democrat who won't toe the party line.
It is pretty well demonstrated that the Democrats were going to nominate Hillary Clinton this year no matter how unpopular she was with voters or how much baggage she brought with her. Wikileaks has ripped off the mask of neutrality. The nominating process was rigged from the getgo.
In Pennsylvania, where we live, vote totals offer some enlightening insights. The party machine did all in its power to wrest the Senate nomination from Joe Sestak who will never be forgiven for running against, and defeating, Arlen Specter in 2010 in the Senate Primary. A long-time Republican, Specter was almost certainly going to lose the Republican Senate Primary to Pat Toomey. He changed his Party affiliation to Democrat and made a bargain with the Democratic Leadership who apparently reasoned that Specter would provide them with a 60thfilibuster-proof seat. The deal failed to take into account polls that suggested that Specter was unpopular with both Democratic and Republican voters. In return for an apparent promise that the Democratic nomination would be his, Specter announced on April 28, 2009 that "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party. The fix was in. The Democratic field would be cleared for Arlen Specter. The Democratic machine welcomed him into the fold, but up-and-coming Congressman Joe Sestak would have none of it. He defied his Party Leadership to run in the primary as a progressive, and knocked Specter out of the race in the Primary. With tepid support from his own party, Sestak then lost narrowly to the Tea Party candidate, and Pennsylvania has endured 6 years of Pat Toomey.
This year, Sestak was rarin' for a rematch, but the PA party leadership worked overtime to keep him off the ballot. How did this come about? Sestak revealed that Chuck Schumer offered him the Party's support if he let the Party run his campaign and also how he would vote if elected. Sestak rejected that offer and so they recruited Katy McGinty, though she was widely regarded as a weaker candidate. Sestak went public with the devil's bargain Schumer had offered him, but the lamestream media did not see that as news. The Party spent millions to promote Katy McGinty over Sestak in the primary, then they spent tens of millions more on McGinty in the general election versus Toomey, who is far to the right of Pennsylvania's mainstream and was considered to be very vulnerable. McGinty ran a milketoast campaign, focusing on Toomey's negatives more than a positive vision from McGinty. She lost 49-47%, (with Libertarian Ed Clifford siphoning off the difference).
The PA Democratic vote counts tell the story: Clinton and McGinty both lacked the support of the party-line Democratic voters in the state. Here are the numbers:
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