The Democratic Party has failed us all.
Okay, now some pages to explain.
Shortly after the November 8 Election, I was completing a transaction at a Columbia establishment. The middle-aged woman at the counter observed my ‘BJORN/ U.S. CONGRESS’ button, which I still occasionally wore out of habit.
She shook her head, “What was that guy thinking, running for Congress around here? Did he honestly think he could beat Joe Wilson?”
“Ma’am,” I smiled. “What mattered most to me was being the Voice that the Voters deserved. There should never be an empty Democratic Party ballot. And if everyone had voted in their own self-interest, we would have won.”
She shrugged, “Well, I voted for you. Still.”
Funny. This woman voted for me—yet not knowing she was addressing the candidate, she didn’t hesitate to question why I would go through the seeming hell of running for office as a Democrat in one of the most gerrymandered Congressional Districts in the United States.
(Just how impossible is the situation in South Carolina’s Second Congressional District? One South Carolina Democratic Party leader told me the Party base in SC District 2 is 23%. Our campaign received 36% of the vote—proving that our message resounded even in a year when Trump voters stormed the gates.)
Six months prior to my encounter with the woman at the counter, I sat in a living room with two prominent national Democratic Party leaders. Unbelievably, they asked me the exact same question: Why on earth would I want to run for Congress in South Carolina District 2? Without several hundred thousand dollars to start, what’s even the point? Besides, it’s a huge District—runs all the way to the ocean.
My jaw dropped. First, I pointed out that the District was redrawn after the last Census and now ends 100 miles short of the Atlantic coast. Second, I asked them if they preferred an empty ballot to a real Democrat?
Their reply: What did it matter?
(Damn. More on these two “leaders” later.)
If you consider yourself a Democrat, odds are, that first sentence at the top had you nodding your head: “The Democratic Party has failed us all.”
But the truth is, “the Democratic Party” is all Democrats.
When I say the Democratic Party failed, what I mean is: All Democrats are to blame. Everyone. Me. You. The average Voter. The DNC Party Chair.
Some individuals within the Democratic Party without doubt bear more responsibility than others. They must be identified and forever relieved of their leadership mantles and their powerful mini-empires. Going forward, just as everyone is to blame, the effort of everyone is required to get the building of Civilization back on track in the United States.
Not just “the effort.” But the concentrated, complete, whole and full, educated and reasonable effort. Of everyone. Otherwise, kiss progress goodbye.
Hold on a second! Why just the Democratic Party? What about the Green Party? Didn’t you run as a Green Party fusion candidate? And what about the Libertarians, the Republicans, the Independents—not to mention the unregistered Voters who sat at home on their tuckuses? Ever heard of Putin and Julian Assange? Don’t they share some of the blame?
In a word: no.
Since FDR and the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been the one political body in the United States most capable of carrying and keeping aflame the torch of social and economic equality. For the past century, the Democratic Party has been the greatest hope of establishing and maintaining policies that protect working people and the disenfranchised. Yet the Democratic Party has abandoned its mission.
Why? It would seem that the glitz & glamour of Wall Street and Madison Avenue are just too tempting to resist. Case in point: In 2012, the net worth of the average Democratic Party U.S. Senator was $13.5 million; the Democratic Party U.S. Representative, $5.7 million.
What about Hillary Clinton? $45 million. But don’t worry: President Obama is worth a mere $10 million. (For now.) 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry? Oh, not much—just $200 million. What?! Yes, $200 million. How about his predecessor, for good measure? Al Gore: also $200 million.
Let me be very clear. I would certainly prefer to call every one of these individuals President compared to any of their Republican counterparts. But one of our greatest intellectuals on the Left, Noam Chomsky, said it best in the immediate aftermath of November 8, 2016:
The Democratic Party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s, and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their language … and now Trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievances—people who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worth—and who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason). (11-14-16 interview in Truth-Out.org)
Here’s my rephrase of Chomsky’s choice words:
Millions of Voters have finally stopped believing that a Democratic Party Millionaire’s Club understands the first thing about lead-tainted drinking water, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, police brutality, etc. We would rather be lied to in an entertaining fashion and earnestly brutalized.
Unless “WE the People” break the cycle and reform the political system, we’re only ever going to see millionaires in the White House, millionaires in the U.S. Senate, millionaires in the U.S. House of Representatives. Oh, and by the way—millionaires in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now imagine you’re a public librarian filing as a candidate for U.S. Congress just two days before the deadline because you’re sick and tired of seeing Joe “You Lie!” Wilson waltz off to Washington unopposed every election cycle. But you’re not a member of The Club. You don’t ‘belong.’ And you know they’ll be damned if you succeed. Besides, if you’re honest with yourself, you realize you can’t tell the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. Good luck impressing at banquets!
Oh well. Let’s give it our all.
And we did. While our campaign did not emerge victorious, we succeeded in a number of ways. We did as well as another congressional candidate in South Carolina who had ten times more in campaign contributions and who was the recipient of three personal visits from Vice President Biden. And what’s more: my three progressive congressional candidate colleagues, the South Carolina Blue Brothers, all of similar humble background, fared even better. (You would have to ask each of them, however, how well they can identify fine dining silverware.)
Let’s call a thing a thing: The Democratic Party Millionaire’s Club is an abject failure.
For those who would point to a popular vote that favored Hillary Clinton as evidence of some kind of pyrrhic victory, clearly you do not understand: Winning 48% of the popular vote against a megalomaniacal misogynist isn’t much to write home about. Not to mention, any campaign team that plays to win the popular vote in a U.S. Presidential contest should be tarred and feathered—but let’s make it room temperature tar in order to be humane.
Want to know what a popular vote landslide looks like? In 1936, FDR beat Alf Landon by 11 million votes (60.8% to 36.5%), and won the Electoral College votes in every state except Maine and Vermont. The Democratic Party vs. Trump, Inc. should have been nothing less.
Now, before you erupt in defense of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and all the other wealthy elected officials in our nation—remember my words above:
“The Democratic Party has failed us all. And the Democratic Party is all Democrats.”
After all, time after time, we elect these individuals.
(An excerpt from Mr. Bjorn’s pending book, So I Ran from Congress, which hopefully will be available before Donald Trump obliterates Planet Earth.)
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