What the Democrats need to learn – Lesson 2

There are a number of reasons why Donald Trump is now the President of the United States, but these are domestic reasons and the Democratic Party needs to stop blaming Russia for losing the election. Until hard evidence is given to substantiate the claims that Russia interfered, and to date I am not aware of any, then this argument needs to stop being promulgated. Additionally, when it comes to election interference, America can hardly cast any stones. Not only has the US interfered in the elections of other countries, it has overthrown and even assassinated democratically elected leaders, installing in their place puppet dictators who were favourable to US corporate and political interests. Some of the most well known of these secret CIA coups were in Iran, the Congo, and Chile, but there are more. Since Reagan was president, US foreign policy has been less cloak and dagger as the government has relied less on the CIA to influence other’s elections and more on organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), but the US still regularly interferes in the elections of other countries. One of the more recent countries in which the US has played a significant role in ousting a democratically elected leader is the Ukraine.[1] I would like to know what percentage of Americans actually have any knowledge of what their government has been doing in other countries for decades now.

Obviously, Hillary did win the popular vote and yet still lost the election and, at some point in time, I’ll write about the problems of the Electoral College and how the whole system needs to change, but for now let’s look at the failings of the Democratic Party, which played a decisive factor in securing Trump’s win. If the party is to survive, then the leaders will have to admit that they screwed up majorly. They didn’t listen to the people when they were rallying behind Bernie and demanding change, radical change. Instead they betrayed Bernie and decided to stick with Hillary, the status quo.

Let’s explore this further. The DNC and John Podesta’s leaked emails confirm, among other things, that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then chair of the DNC, was against Bernie and taking steps to interfere with his ability to campaign and reach out to voters. She and her allies within the party viewed his policies as too extreme for Congress to approve and unrealistic, and they didn’t want him to harm Hillary’s chances of getting elected. [2] [3] [4] But trying to say that these emails suddenly convinced thousands of people who were going to vote for Hillary to instead vote for Trump is a big leap of logic. It just makes no sense. Votes were lost when the Democratic Party turned its back once and for all on progressives and the working class by nominating Hillary at the convention back in July. By the time the DNC & Podesta emails were leaked, I believe most voters had already made up their minds as to who was going to get their vote, if they were going to vote at all. Many true progressives were never going to vote for Hillary in the first place, preferring Green Party candidate Jill Stein, while many of the white working class preferred Republican candidate Donald Trump, who was promising to bring back their jobs. Trump had also already secured the votes of white supremacists and misogynists and Hillary didn’t have a chance with any of them.

The problem is that the DNC and other influential people in the party have been out of touch with the people they are supposed to represent for a long time now.   Since the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Democrats (like the Republicans) have been strong supporters of neoliberal economic policies (also known as Reaganomics), which have substantially increased income inequality and left voters feeling either angry or disenfranchised, as it appears that their vote has made no difference to their circumstances. The neoliberal agenda or free market economics has been achieved by significantly weakening unions, thereby lowering their membership, their ability to strike and stagnating people’s wages; creating free trade agreements that allow corporations to move their production overseas, leading to high levels of unemployment in various industrial areas of the States; replacing some of the former good paying manufacturing jobs with low wage jobs in the service sector; substantially lowering taxes for corporations and the wealthy, saying that this will create jobs; and cutting social services.

The American people should not forget that it was Bill Clinton who turned his back on the unions and pushed NAFTA through Congress back in 1993, resulting in the loss of 700,000 manufacturing jobs and reduced wages.[5]  It was also Bill Clinton who signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. This has led to an increase in employment rates among former welfare recipents, but has not lifted people out of poverty as most of the jobs these people have gone into only pay the minimum wage which cannot support a family. And households headed by single mothers, are now worse off than they were before the Act went through.[6]  Between 1995 and 2010 far fewer families received aid from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) even though ‘the number of poor families with children rose 17 percent in the same period’ and there has also been evidence of racism towards people of colour in determining their eligibility for welfare support.[7]  In an effort to show he was tough on crime, President Clinton signed the infamous ‘three strikes’ law which has seen more people per capita locked up in US prisons than anywhere else in the world. Well over half of these prisoners are either black or hispanic and nearly half are in for drug offences. Though he says that he now regrets having signed this bill, the damage has been done.[8] Even if their sentences are commuted and they are able to get out of prison, these people are scarred and will forever struggle.

I think for many Americans, especially the white working class, a Hillary presidency represents a continuation of Bill’s, a presidency that would not be favourable to workers or job creation. And why should they see it any differently? The fact that Hillary was on the board of Walmart, one the most powerful corporations in the US and one that is vehemently opposed to increasing the minimum wage or unionisation, is very telling of who she is as an individual and what she stands for.

The American people aren’t stupid, they know that things aren’t working the way that they should. They know that life has been getting harder for them than it was for their parents and that their children’s lives will be even harder still, and they’ve been crying out for change. Americans cannot keep living on credit to make up for the shortfall in their wages. Americans cannot keep living with ever increasing medical expenses. Americans cannot keep living with the crippling debt from these and college tuition fees. Americans need change now and this will not come from the continuation of neoliberal polices. Until the Democratic Party wakes up to this fact they will continue to lose votes.

 

 

[1] https://monthlyreview.org/2006/12/01/the-myths-of-democracy-assistance-u-s-political-intervention-in-post-soviet-eastern-europe/

[2] https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/emailid/40524

[3] https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/emailid/4650

[4] https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/?file=bernie+sanders&count=50#searchresult

[5] http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/15-ways-bill-clintons-white-house-failed-america-and-world

[6] http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_viewpoints_tanf_testimony/

[7] http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/15-ways-bill-clintons-white-house-failed-america-and-world

[8] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33545971

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