Published on
by

Did You Hear the One About the Party That Self-Destructed?

On the importance of what we do and don't know about the Democrat's Unity Reform Commission

What will the Democratic Party become? This week's meeting of the Unity Reform Commission may offer some clues. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

The United States is no longer a Democracy, it's an oligarchy.   

The Democratic National Committee is meeting in Washington, DC this week, and one of the main things on their agenda is to decide on whether to adopt rules that could change that. The proposed rules were unanimously approved by the Unity Reform Commission, a group that was established after the 2016 election to try to resolve deep differences between the center-right power brokers who control the Party and their increasingly progressive base.

Oh, that’s not the way the Party would portray it, but with the Democratic Congressional  Campaign Committee undermining progressive candidates, telling candidates to offer thoughts and prayers but avoid talking about gun control in the wake of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas high school, and seventeen Democrats  supporting a bill to deregulate the banks while the Party’s leaders do nothing to mount a fillibuster against this latest giveawy to the ultra-rich,   there can little doubt about the Party being in thrall to the oligarchy, and out of step with the voters.

"The party’s cynical centrist-one-day, faux-left the next, center-right the next, while pandering to economic elites and corporate America has shrunk the base of the Party from 50 percent of Americans back in the late sixties to less than 30 percent today." There are two remarkable things about this potentially revolutionary change to the Party.  First, the mainstream media is virtually ignoring it, and second if the Party decides to reject or give short shrift to their progressive base, it will be tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot – or actually, in the head, since it would lead to a poor showing in the midterms and the likelihood that they’d fail to win either House, and fail to reverse their catastrophic losses at the state level.

Let’s look at each in turn.

The Unity Reform Commission’s recommendations – the greatest story never told

Last December after seven months of negotiations between the various factions in the Party, the Reform Commission came out with a set of recommendations that would democratize the nominating and voting process the Party uses in the primaries.  The Commission’s key proposals included reducing the number of Super Delegates by 60 percent, making participation in caucuses less difficult, providing incentives and penalties designed to encourage states to open up the primary process, and making the Party’s financial transactions more transparent.  Progressives on the Commission also won a hard-fought battle to include an Ombudsman Council responsible for assuring transparency and accountability in the Party’s financial transactions.

The press largely ignored this, other than a few outlets mentioning it last December, and the Party itself acted as if it were a national security secret.  In fact, the most high-profile story on it may well have been an idiotic guest editorial in the New York Times on December 11th entitled, Is the Democratic Party Becoming Too Democratic? One of the articles more lunatic suggestions was that Party bosses were better placed to pick winners. This, after the Democrats managed to lose to Trump, the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling, while losing both Houses. And this loss came on top of the fact that Democrats have been getting crushed at the State level for several decades now.  Hard to justify letting the “bosses” retain control with a record like this, unless, of course, you’re a boss.

In another guest op-ed the New York Times ran in January—entitled "Politics Shouldn't Be Like Open Mic Night"—the authors, Jonathan Rauch and Raymond J. La Raja, decried what they called the amateurization of American politics. Really?  Aren’t we the people supposed to make the choices here?  In an age when money talks and the people walk, are we supposed to relinquish control to those who take money from moneyed interests?  I thought the point of democracy and our constitution was precisely to give everyone an equal shot at the mic.

Fast forward to this week. The Democratic Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee is meeting in Washington to decide—or maybe by the time you read this has decided—whether or not to adopt the Unity Reform Commission’s recommendations.

You’d be hard pressed to know about this, though. The only thorough report focusing on it in the lead up to the DNC’s meeting I found was by Robert Borosage, at Our Future.Org. The article was picked up by a few progressive sites, but in general, this potentially revolutionary change to the Democratic Party was ignored by the mainstream press, which focused on the usual fare of insane tweets, “the Russian’s done it” stories, the latest incriminating behavior of Trump and friends, or the hemorrhaging White House Staff.

A call to the DNC on Thursday to check on the status of the vote, yielded nothing.  Is there anyone there who knows anything? “No.” Is there a way to reach them at the meeting? “We’re trying to get … information, but as of now, no.” Does the DNC have a position on this? “No.”

Bottom line? The mainstream media has barely covered this attempt at democratizing the Democratic Party. Why?  Well, they’re members in good standing of the oligarchy, that’s why.

Preferring power to victory

The fact that a little over 27 percent of the eligible voters put Trump in office is directly a result of the fact that the Democratic Party isn’t democratic. How?  Well, if you read Clinton’s latest book, or the misguided ramblings of neoliberals like Doug Schoen, or look at the latest antics of the DCCC, the neoliberal mafia that administers the orders of the Democratic Party leadership still seems to have no clue that they enabled his victory by refusing to stand for the vast majority of Americans who are—and have been for some time now—getting screwed by the party’s decades long allegiance to the uber wealthy and elitist interests in lieu of the people’s interests.  The party’s cynical centrist-one-day, faux-left the next, center-right the next, while pandering to economic elites and corporate America has shrunk the base of the Party from 50 percent of Americans back in the late sixties to less than 30 percent today.  

This rudderless, amoral approach to governance is why just 37 percent believe the Democratic Party stands for something.  And what the neoliberals just don’t get, is that what Americans want are candidates who back a progressive agenda.  Oh, yes, the terms liberal and progressive have been smeared by the Oligarch’s skillful use of branding to make them unpopular terms, but on an issue-by-issue basis, Americans are overwhelmingly progressive.  The only reason the Oligarch’s branding effort worked is because no one countered it.  In fact, the neoliberal’s embrace of free markets, trade agreements, deregulation, and militarism reinforced the conservatives’ narrative.

It's possible that by the time you read this, the DNC will have embraced the reforms proposed by the Unity Commission. But the fact that you probably haven’t seen it discussed in the press or heard about it on the airwaves, and that the DNC is trying to make the decision in secret, tells you how completely the Oligarchs are controlling our national narrative, and the Democratic Party.  The only hope of this passing is if Democrats realize they’ll lose even more power if they don’t start making the interests of the people part of their calculations.

Meanwhile, forget the Russians—when it comes to messing with our political system, they’re pikers compared to the Oligarchy.

FRIENDS: Help Us Fight

Independent journalism has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support us now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Common DreamsSupport Common Dreams

John Atcheson

John Atcheson

screen_shot_2017-07-26_at_9.09.47_pm.pngJohn Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, and he has just completed a book on the 2016 elections titled, WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track, available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson

Share This Article