I'm beginning to understand what it's like being an "Angry White Male." Angry at the outcome of this election. Angry at smarmy neocons. And particularly angry at the democratic leadership.
But my anger doesn't just speak for whites. It's for anyone, woman or man, who works hard and tries like hell to make ends meet, only to fall short month after month, year after year. It's frustrating to consider why 59 million people vote for a guy who fights an illegal war, costing this country its youth and its future, and who trumpets freedom while he rips apart the Bill of Rights and reduces democracy to a talking point.
These same voters support a man whose policies give tax cuts to the rich and coddle corporations that outsource their jobs, leaving them with Wal-Mart as a career choice. Why? Because they think the Republicans fight for them, for their "values" and for their "security."
Meanwhile, where is the opposition?
Oh yes, the Democrats, who parade their working class base when it suits them. When pushed, however, they drop the rank and file quicker than a smart bomb and lick up to that same corporate base that is only interested in itself and overwhelmingly support Republicans.
It's a losing proposition, one the Democrats have taken to the ballot box. Clinton indeed won the presidency, but where was he during the devastating mid term elections in 1994? The Republicans gained the majority in Congress then and never looked back. The Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to throw in the towel.
The ascension of Senator Harold Reid is an example of this towel throwing. His stand against a woman's choice and support for a constitutional amendment against flag burning make him perfect for leading the Democrats to permanent second party status, embedding them with the "Republicrat" moniker for good. Republicans must be chuckling. Another roll-over Democrat for the Republican juggernaut.
And a juggernaut it is. Charging toward another term and controlling everything, the Republicans plan permanent pre-emptive war; a military-led foreign policy; privatized social security; school prayer; and a healthy environment for oil, gas and logging. Forget about choice for women, Medicare or Medicaid. Those, along with the Democrats, will be nothing more than floating detritus in its wake.
Because they are the only other significant party, Democrats had better take a stand. Otherwise, expect more of their base to flee to other parties willing to listen. They can start by learning from some winners in their own party, liberals Russ Feingold, Barack Obama, and Barbara Lee, to name a few. All stood steadfast by their convictions: the war is wrong, the patriot act is wrong, Bush is wrong. All won.
The Democrats don't have to look far for material. Over the last twenty years union memberships have plummeted, wages have barely budged and in fact have fallen, bankruptcies are soaring, unmanageable debt lurks, 45 million people don't have health insurance, homelessness has skyrocketed while the nation's food banks have a new client-the working poor. Is there a pattern here? I think at this rate the United States will be islands of the rich surrounded by seas of shanty towns.
The Democrats, if they ever find their spine, have to also find their base. That won't be hard. Just stop by any picket line, union hall, emergency room, former factory town, foreclosed family farm, soup line, church, anywhere working people gather and talk to them, get their concerns. Find that base-the numbers are growing-and build a platform that speaks to all these people-to all of us.
Nick Parker works at Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy in Oakland, California