On Sunday night, Bernie Sanders confirmed he will run for the Senate as an Independent again in 2018, after running for the Presidency as a Democrat. Sanders, by the way, is the most popular politician in America. There’s a link between these two facts that the Democratic Party is choosing to ignore, and it’ll cost them – and us.
People reject both parties – and it's hard to blame them
Let’s run through some stats that reveal the state of politics in America.
Two of the most important are 28.1 per cent 27.3 percent of eligible voters. Those are the percentages of the total eligible voters voting for Clinton and Trump respectively. If we were to choose the percent of voting age population their numbers would be even lower, with Trump’s share coming in at a little over 26 percent.
But regardless, it means that nearly 45 percent of voters didn’t choose to vote for either party’s candidate. It’s actually worse than that since in fourteen states, more votes were cast for down ballot candidates, than for president, which means voters were so turned off by their choices, they left the top of the ticket blank. Yet when folks establish turnout, these “none-of-the-above” voters are counted. In Nevada, where people can actually choose “none-of-the-above,” for President 29,000 people did so.
The narrative in the media was all about how close this race was. In reality, none-of-the-above won in a walk, just as it has for decades, now. This degree of disaffection isn’t normal. It’s not the case in most of the developed world; and it didn't used to be the case here in the US.
And neither party has a monopoly on how much they are loathed by the people. Republican congressional leaders have favorable ratings of just 20 percent, and overall, Republicans in Congress have the support of just 29 percent.
Democrats – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Which brings us back to Sanders running as an Independent and being the most popular politician in America. Sanders has held progressive positions for as long as he’s been in politics. And the fact is, the American people share his views. In study after study, Americans overwhelmingly poll left-of-center on an issue-by-issue basis.
But as a result of a well-funded campaign by corporations and several rich families beginning in the late 1970’s, the word “liberal” has become so toxic that even people who hold liberal views on an issue-by-issue basis are loath to identify themselves as liberal.
The neoliberal’s who control the Democratic Party use the fact that the liberal label has been discredited to justify their continued reliance on the old DLC model of trying to appeal to the center-right. In the past, they pretended to believe that the country was, in fact, center-right, but in a recent New York Times editorial, neoliberal and Clintonite Doug Schoen revealed the real reason Democrats won’t embrace progressivism is that they are dependent upon the uber-rich, Wall Street, and corporate campaign contributors.
But here’s the deal: their reliance upon this old centrist DLC strategy has made the party all but irrelevant, and it is the reason only 35 percent of registered voters believe that the Democratic Party stands for anything.
In short, faced with an enormous opportunity to reverse their four-decade fall from grace, Democrats are fighting with progressives who represent the Party’s only shot at winning in 2018 and 2020, and are, instead, clutching at the neoliberal dogma of the Clintonites, riding it into political oblivion.
Back when Kennedy was President and the party backed New Deal values, some 50% of folks called themselves Democrats, and only about a quarter self-identified as Republicans. Today, less than 30% identify as Democrats and about 26% identify as Republicans.
That drop has translated to an enormous shift in power at all levels of government. For example, Republicans control both legislative bodies in thirty-two states, while Democrats do so in just thirteen. Currently thirty-four states have a Republican governor, while only fifteen are headed by a Democrat, and one—Alaska—is headed by an independent.
Ceding the stage to the passionately ignorant minority
But that’s what you get when 40 percent of the eligible voters are so turned off by politics that they don’t show up. Worse, that strategy lets the passionately ignorant minority control the political system and put dangerous megalomaniacs like Trump in charge.
And by embracing the old and failing neoliberal DLC centrist strategy based on corporate interests instead of the people’s interests, the mainstream Democratic Party and the folks who control it are choosing to try to hold onto the personal power the system gives them, even if it means the Party and the people suffer.
But by trolling the center-right for a few more votes while embracing corporatism, Democrats are assuring the progressive majority stays home and wing-nuts win.
Bottom line: Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America because he stands for the people’s interests, not the Oligarchy’s. The progressive majority in America is fed up with parties that are beholden to corporations, the ultra-rich, and special interests. By trying to ignore that, Democrats are setting themselves – and us – up for disaster in 2018 and 2020.