I see all the time the questions of what is wrong with the Democratic Party. I sense the palpable frustration of well-minded people who fight day in and out against the corruption in the current administration only to be heartbroken at the apparent ineptitude of the opposition party. It hit me today why the Democratic Party seems too inept in dealing with the rampant corruption. They are a willing participant in it.
Now I know they are the minor leagues compared to the GOP, but they are both pigs at the trough of American corruption. It has never ceased to amaze me that we can have 31 flavors of ice cream in this country but only two coherent political philosophies (quite frankly they are not that coherent either but that is another article). Everyone who fights for progressive causes knows the 2004 and 2000 elections were stolen. Similarly, we know that we are heading for another theft in 2006, and then 2008. How can we know that? Simply, the democrats have done absolutely nothing to stop it. Sure we have the true American heroes such as John Conyers, but he is often stuck by himself, shouting into the wind.
Unsettling? Sure, but just look at the presidential race from last year. The best candidate the democrats could muster was John Kerry who promised us that he would not stop fighting until every vote was counted. He then proceeded to quit and walk away from his supporters in just six hours after the totals were announced. Looking beyond that though, what did he stand for? He stood for the continuation of the illegal war in Iraq, the further death of American soldiers based upon lies. I remember reading his concession and feeling outraged knowing I had been lied to. Why did Kerry give up so quickly? Because he is part of the same failed system in this country. He still got to go back to Congress and be a millionaire, so why buck the system?
Uncomfortable? Well, don 't fall for the "we are not in power " mantra. Sure the dems wield no real power but they choose to remain in that position by refusing to create their own progressive identity. They are mostly content to be the stepchildren in the government, happy with the scraps that fall from the master 's table. Disagree? Ask yourself how many democrats voted for the Patriot Act, stripping you of your civil liberties. Granted the first go around was difficult because of the fervor after 9-11, but Russ Feingold still had the moral clarity to not give in and voted "no ". Ask yourself how many democrats voted for the recent bankruptcy law, financially enslaving this country while doing nothing to address the predatory lending practices of major credit card companies. Sure not a single GOP House member voted against it but did you know that nearly 40% of the House democrats voted for it as well? Why? Because they ponied up to the trough and feasted on the 40 million dollars in contributions made to congress over the past eight years by the credit card lobby. That is right America. They sold you out just as quickly as the republicans did, just not on the same scale. Still if the GOP never sees any of their order dissent and they can get 40% of the democrats, then that is why their control is as tight and ruthless as it is.
Still unconvinced? How about the recent law enacted to curb class action lawsuits? This law serves no interest other than corporate profits. The GOP did a masterful job of making us think that out of control lawsuits were behind the rise in healthcare but every study has proven that is bunk. Frivolous lawsuits accounts for less than 1% of healthcare costs. The GOP knew that but lied anyway to push their oppressive agenda. The frightening thing though is the bill passed in the Senate 72-26 and in the House 279-149. That means there were plenty of democrats who chose to protect companies at the cost of human beings.
Votes like this happen all the time. How many democrats supported the Iraq War? How many have done anything serious to see it end? How many supported the protestors? Their identity as stepchildren is a choice. It is a conscious decision to play the game the way it is set up, knowing that being number two in a game where they get to share in the profit of corruption is better than being number three, on the outside looking in. There first duty is the same as the GOP. It is not to protect their constituents. It is not to protect their party. It is to protect the status quo. Protecting the system guarantees a spot at the trough for them, even if they have to wait to feed when their step-parents are done feeding. Are they as bad as the GOP? No. They are corruption-lite. Make no mistake about it though. In that role they are very much part of the problem.
There are plenty of good people in this country who recognize that the two-party system and the proliferation of lobbyists deciding policy are the two largest problems choking this democracy. There are plenty of progressive voices who want to see honor and decency restored to our government. People who actually want to see their concerns be addressed by the people they vote to represent them. They want to see our own education system fixed before setting up schools in other countries. They want to know that they can get proper medical care. They want their government to represent them. They want their country back.
The problem is that because the media does such a good job at convincing us that there is this vast split down the center of this country that we fail to see that we are mostly in agreement about what really matters. They want us arguing about abortion or gay marriage so that we don 't notice when the impoverishing of this country and the elimination of the middle class walks right by us. It is an illusion though to think that we are so fundamentally opposed. I think if you asked most people if lying to go to war was a good thing they would say no. I think if you asked most people if they thought it was a good idea to make sure all children had health coverage, they would say yes. Yet if you ask them on Election Day, they insist that they are categorized into the narrow boxes the system has set up. Take a closer look though America. The party of limited government, the GOP, has expanded government more than any other administration is history. The party of fiscal responsibility has driven this country into eight trillion dollars of debt and the verge of financial ruin. The party of integrity and family values has produced Tom Delay and money laundering, Bill Frist and insider trading, and the entire administration facing perjury and conspiracy charges for purposefully outing a CIA agent in charge of protecting us from the very WMD that Bush never found.
But we wake up every day thinking that it is democrats versus republicans. The sad truth is that one is no better than the other. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our system is no longer set up to benefit or protect us. Our environment is destroyed in the name of corporate profits. Our elected officials are bought and paid for by people representing corporate interests keeping the rich powerful and the poor impotent. Our children go off to die in wars based on lies, and we have to actually debate if we should stay or go while we wave little American flags made in China. The debate is what continues to divide us. The illusion that there are only two coherent lines of political thought is crippling this democracy. There has to be more than the vanilla republicans and the chocolate democrats. Until we truly get progressive in our political thought in this country we will be choosing between corruption and corruption lite, and not liking either flavor.