The Democratic party has done everything in its power to alienate me—and, I suspect, my generational peers of similar political proclivities.
Let’s start with the Political Compass. Back in high school, quite some years ago, our Civics teacher had us take the Political Compass test to see where we fell on the political spectrum. That was the beginning of my disillusionment with the democratic process.
With that in mind, let’s go back to the 2008 elections:
2008 Presidential Election
You’ll notice that Barack Obama (the candidate, mind) was a fairly liberal choice as compared with his Republican peers. The same can be said for his eventual running mate, Joe Biden. And yet, note that they all fall on the right hand side of the spectrum and land more in the authoritarian realm of political thought.
Now let’s look at the 2012 elections:
2012 Presidential Election
Ah, fascinating. Now we see Barack Obama — very different than the candidate, you’ll notice — who’s shifted way up into the corner next to Mitt Romney. And would you look at that? Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are just a hop skip away from both “liberal socialist” Barack Obama and “moderate Republican” Mitt Romney.
And we were expected to choose between these two candidates.
Now let’s shift to this year.
2016 Presidential Election
As you can see, we have Clinton sort of hovering around where Barack Obama stood in the 2012 election. And the Republicans, it should come as no surprise given their absurd rhetoric this cycle, clustered up in the corner. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, actually seems to have breeched the Left/Right divide. He still sits between Libertarian and Authoritarian, but he’s clearly a very different option from the other folks running.
Are you keeping this all in mind? Because now I’d like to show you where I am.
That’s right. Little old Far Left Zealot me. (Apparently.)
So let’s be very clear: when I say no candidate represents me, no candidate represents me. Plain and simple. Bernie comes closest by a good distance, especially for someone running in one of the two major parties, but even then he’s not quite where I’m at.
I’ve asked a few friends to take the test, too. Turns out I’m far from the only one deep in that quadrant. Here are three real results from fellow Bernie supporters of various ethnicities and genders, all in my age group.
I do not surround myself with radicals. I am not part of a Socialist collective, nor do I have any desire to be. I don’t know that I even identify as a socialist. But I am a progressive, there is no way around that.
So who, and I ask this seriously, do you expect us to support? We certainly will not venture down the Far Right rabbit hole the GOP has built for itself. But the Democrats, in their current form? The Democrats, who support major social change like gay marriage… when it’s convenient? The Democrats, who support money in politics because that’s what all the cool kids [read: the GOP] are doing these days, and don’t care that it amounts to legal bribery?
This leaves us in a lurch. We’ve got questions and the party has no answers.
When will the Dems finally support Black Lives Matter and integrate it into their platform? People are dying and an entire community goes unheard.
When will they back federal de-scheduling of marijuana? Citizens rot in jail over a substance that never should have been on the list to begin with.
Why aren’t we championing trans rights and LGB anti-discrimination laws? An entire segment of our population goes unnoticed legislatively, taking pats on the head for winning gay marriage and not for issues that impact them day to day.
The list goes on and on. Save for the politicians and aspiring elected officials who want to do right by the people even when it’s not popular with the establishment — John Fetterman, Alex Law, Lucy Flores, Elizabeth Warren, Zephyr Teachout, and Bao Nguyen come to mind— the only answer I can come up with to describe the rest of the Democrats is cowardice.
So when we’re asked to vote D, it’s a tough pill to swallow. And the Democratic National Committee is the pharma company trying to push it down our throats.
The DNC are themselves a huge part of the problem. For one, they’ve done everything they possibly can to rig this election in favor of Hillary Clinton:fewer debates (at least initially), more establishment endorsements, lots and lots of pressure. Not long ago they even reversed a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists — something Barack Obama once championed.
Note that this isn’t just about Hillary Clinton — they’d do this for anyone the establishment was happy with floating to the top of the pile. Clinton happened to be that person this go-round. In 2008, they seemed comfortable with either her or Barack Obama. But they continue to play king and queenmaker while outsider candidates get swept under the rug.
In their most striking indictment of democracy, however, the DNC has allowed superdelegates to persist. This is a system wherein the people are ignored and established figures in the party can vote however they want. They care so little about what the voters have to say that they can announce their support for a candidate as early as they care to in an election cycle. It’s a broken program designed to stop grassroots candidates in their tracks, as admitted by DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz herself.
(Even the GOP, somehow, was wise enough to scrap them… which is why they can’t stop Drumpf. Love or hate him, he’s winning because of democracy.
Well, “democracy” and the help of $2 billion worth of airtime from the ratings-hungry media.)
Leading members of the party still harbor antiquated, dangerous views about the world. Take Shultz, who takes gobs of money from special interests and disparages the work of young feminists. She also says marijuana is a gateway drug despite the horrible impact that policy has had on black people and the fact that the concept of a “gateway drug” is a myth. Add to that her recent collusion with Republicans in favor of predatory payday lenders and you can see how someone with progressive ideals feels like a stranger in the party.
The Democratic party shifted hard Right during the days of Bill Clinton. He was known for rallying and uniting the party around a centrist platform, rejecting the old democratic socialist ideals of FDR in favor of a new, neoliberal platform. This led to a lot of questionable legislation in the 90s, including continued drug wars, crime bills, horrible welfare reform and deregulation of the banks. Oh, and don’t forget about the Clintons’ affinity for execution:
Despite Rector’s mental state, then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton made a point of returning to Arkansas to oversee [mentally disabled inmate] Rector’s January 24, 1992 execution during the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign.
…a view Hillary still holds to this day, despite the fact that it disproportionately impacts people of color.
You see the inherent contradiction in our party. We say we support the disenfranchised, but do we? Or do we just “wield” the black vote, or the Jewish vote — or whatever — like a weapon against the GOP? Are these groups mere political capital to use against “those racists on the other side”?
From what I’ve observed, that’s exactly what they’ve become. And I don’t want any part of it.
Youth turnout in the 2016 election so far.
That’s not to say I’m going to go Green. What I think will happen is that the Democratic party is about to see a major shift in leadership, values and direction. I think the days of Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Shultz and the rest of the Centrist Crew are numbered. What Bernie Sanders has built — along with the Berniecrats he’s assembled in his wake — will not die this election or the next.
You see, my generation is about to take the reins from the Boomers and Generation X. It’ll be a very different world with us at the wheel, I assure you. And with the even more fluid Generation Edge not far behind, I suspect that progressive push will only continue.
For now, though, I will not add my name to the roster of Democratic acolytes. To do so would be to adhere to a set of values I just don’t support. When the party changes—when I can vote for that Flores/Teachout ticket in 2020 or 2024 — we can give it another shot.
But for now, Dems, you’ve lost me.