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Democrats, Please Be Democrats!

Jim Hightower on

I think we can now say the obvious: The Republican Party has gone bull-goose bonkers. Its leaders have turned the once-proud GOP brand into an unprincipled gaggle of corporate profiteers, hatemongers and screwball conspiracy theorists. They're so far-out that the Hubble Space Telescope can't find them!

But where is my Democratic Party? Here's a transformative opportunity to forge a solid political coalition -- a multiracial, urban-rural, farm-labor alliance based on fundamental principles and programs of fairness and opportunity for all. Isn't that what the party says it stands for? This is the prime time to demonstrate it, to reach out and unite ordinary Americans behind a national agenda of lasting progressive change.

It's not like the party elders would have to start from scratch, for an energized, feisty movement of grassroots battlers against corporate greed and government injustice is already organizing, winning and growing popular support all across the country. But the national party's old-line clique of big funders, paid consultants and corporate politicos shun the little-d democrats as unruly outsiders. Rather than welcoming and building on the exciting advances of these popular movements, the insiders keep hoping that the GOP's goofiness and nastiness will turn off enough voters that Democrats can win by default.

Meanwhile, the establishment insists that Dems only push modest, incremental reforms so as not to offend corporate funders or spook moderate Republicans. Hellooooo, brilliant strategists: A primary function of the Democratic Party is to offend the corporate powers! Also, there are only about six moderate Republicans left in America, so appeasing them is not a big win -- especially when it costs you the support of grassroots voters eager for a politics bold enough and big enough to end business-as-usual economics.

As our own history teaches, it takes intentional gutsiness to create a politics that matters -- one that actually advances America's historic democratic promise. Republicans won't do that. Will Democrats?

The opposite of courage is not cowardice -- it's conformity. And right there's the problem with the Big Money establishment that now controls the Party.

This group certainly wants Democrats to be the majority party... but for what purpose? Based on the policies they actually push, they seek "progress" without change. Go slow and go small, they urge, only offering policy tweaks that conform to the existing corporate structure. Their idea of change is what near beer is to beer -- only less satisfying.

 

Worse, when grassroots progressives put real, FDR-style, "Big D" Democratic ideas on the national agenda, the Dem hierarchy turns into a bunch of fraidy-cat Democrats, mewling that a federal living wage, a tax on billionaires, health care for all, breaking up monopoly power, strengthening unions, a nationwide child care program and other fundamental changes are too extreme. Such boldness, they cry, will frighten voters!

They are, of course, wrong... and politically inept, for such direct-benefit, we're-on-your-side changes in today's corporate-run system are the Democrats' most popular proposals. Polls confirm that this is especially true among working-class voters in small and medium-sized manufacturing towns, where Democrats have been getting creamed. In-depth surveys by a group called American Family Voices show that these people don't think the party is too socialist or too "woke," but rather too meek, too corporate, and especially MIA: missing in action.

After all, they've seen CEOs move their decent-paying jobs out, watched monopolies and Wall Street squeeze the lifeblood out of family farm opportunities and witnessed Amazon and Walmart eating Main Street alive. Where, they ask, is the Democratic Party that once stood up for us? Contrary to the contrived "wisdom" of party elites, these people despise big corporations, love unions, and have minimal interest in the GOP's culture war issues. They yearn for a party that'll join the grassroots battling the bastards and fight for a no-BS agenda of economic fairness.

The question they have for Democrats is basic: Do you just intend to hold office... or use it?

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To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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