Throughout much of my 30 years of adulthood, I have seen the Republican Party as obstructionist, authoritarian, prone to hyperbole, and absolutely willing to wield any power in their grasp to further their agenda. They have initiated countless futile probes, impeached a president over sexual indiscretions, and outright lied about their positions and the left’s positions. They insult and defame their opposition as if they were still in middle school. Yet, somehow, after decades of this, after seven years of outright obstruction and rioting in the schoolyard, the best the Democratic Party seems capable of is pushing up their nerd glasses and mumbling, “That’s not nice.” Many of us have been waiting for the Democrats to take off the gloves and actually start being an opposition party. The Democrats’ unwillingness to do so will cost the rest of us for the next 20 years, at least.
Yes, of course I blame the Republicans for Gorsuch. The Republicans obstructed Merrick Garland’s nomination and the Republicans are pushing through the spectacularly corporate extremist Gorsuch. The questions I have are these: “What in the last 30 years, at least, has led us to expect anything else from the Republican Party?” and, “Why haven’t the Democrats done more to stand up to them?”
Politically, Gorsuch and Trump are wonderful tools for New Democrats. “See?” They will say, with apparent credulity. “You should have voted for us, no matter how corporate and
right-wing conservative centrist a candidate we give you. Otherwise, this is what you get.” All they need to do is blame the left, keep tracking to the right, offer up some fiery rhetoric while they have no power, unaccompanied by any actual shifts in policies, and wait for the donations and votes to roll in. Big win for the Democrats.
Not so big a win for the public, who have to live with the decisions of the Supreme Court.
Why, then, am I railing against the Democrats? And what does this have to do with dysfunctional family values?
I’m not the first person to compare the Democrats’ relationship to Republicans in terms of an abusive relationship, but I believe this metaphor is worth revisiting.
In a healthy relationship, people disagree. They argue. Sometimes, they even fight and get on each other’s nerves. Ultimately, however, we suck it up, or make apologies, or do whatever we have to, to get along and get things done. We don’t always agree, but we generally try to obey certain rules of engagement, such as respecting the person and respecting the integrity of the process.
Abusive relationships appear similar, at first. As time goes on, however, one party is found to be communicating a little differently than the other. Phrases are twisted around. One party continually gets blamed, and possibly even participates in self-blame. When mediators are involved, such as counselors or the courts, that process is turned against the victim, as well. An abusive partner will constantly use phrases like ‘compromise’ and ‘fair play,’ but in a way that continually get what the abuser wants, often at the expense of the victim. Neither the person nor the process are respected.
For 30 years, at least, Republicans have been playing politics to win, while Democrats have been playing to get along. Neither the opposition, nor the process has been respected. The public has been paying the price.
The Democratic Party has compromised itself into a party of moderate Republicans. The Democratic Party has compromised on worker’s rights, on responses to terrorism, on gerrymandering, on the corporate influx of money into elections, on immigration, on deregulation, on militarism, on environmental issues, on cutting social services, on….well, you get the picture. Personally, I think it’s well beyond time the Democratic Party has stopped compromising, and started becoming an opposition party.
Thanks to the election of Trump, the Democratic Party is beginning to do this. Thanks, even more, to events such as the Women’s March on Washington, and a flood of letters and phone calls to representatives. The real resistance didn’t begin until we pushed it. I, for one, have to wonder why they need so much pressure in the first place.
Republicans will never do right by the left, or just about anyone other than rich, white Christian males. Democrats will only do right by us if forced to.
Why is that? Triangulation and the wooing of corporate money certainly play their part.
More importantly, where were the Democrats for the year that the Supreme Court seat stayed open? Having nice conversations and hoping Republicans would turn reasonable. Refusing to ‘go nuclear’ and change the rules to fill the seat, because if the Democrats did it, then Republicans might. Good thing the Democrats were decent and honorable, because now, the Republicans are finally returning the favor.
No, they’re not. And shame on the Democrats in power for expecting them to. Shame on the Democrats for giving away their power. Shame on the Democrats for continually allowing the Republicans to define the limits and topics of conversation. Shame on the Democrats for giving up a Supreme Court seat. Republicans would have had no hesitation in exerting their power. The Republicans are not having any hesitation in exerting their power now.
Why, for the love of coffee ice cream drizzled in chocolate syrup, would the Democratic Party expect anything less? And when are we going to hold the Democratic Party responsible for their own actions?
Through all this, I have a stream of memes running through my social media feeds about how this is all the fault of the left for not falling in line behind the Corporate Democrats’ agenda. It’s almost as if the Democrats were playing the same game with the left that they are victims to from the right. Shame, once again, upon the Democrats.
Yes, the left needs to up its game in civic involvement. We need to keep up the calls and involvement at all levels. In fact, we have been, more than ever. And, yes, I know we have in the past, as well. I have been part of many various efforts in the past, and have personally helped more people become active with the upsurge of involvement since the Women’s March on Washington.
All of this activism means nothing, however, if it falls on deaf ears. Democrats, we are shouting. I only hope you will listen. I only hope you will #hearourvoices.
It’s time for the Democrats to respect the left, and fight the right, instead of fighting the left and respecting the right. We have lost a Supreme Court seat to this horse manure, and quite a bit more, as well. It’s time to switch that around. The left has the numbers, we have the enthusiasm and we have the energy. Let’s see if we can wake the democratic process up. It’s time.