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The Death of the Democratic Party

Posted on April 11th, 2020 in 2020 Elections, Neoliberalism by James Deal
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Some things never change, but the same can't be said of the Democratic Party moving forward. After the 2016 election, there was an atmosphere of hope given the belief that the party couldn't possibly be foolish enough to repeat the events of 2016 that led to Trump's victory. However, it has become increasingly clear that no substantive change has or will take place and that the party and the party's establishment politicians will continue to actively subvert the will of a large portion of their voter base, the progressive electorate.

Rather than simply playing allowing the Primary to run its course and letting the voters determine the party's nominee, the establishment has actively intervened on multiple occasions to limit Sanders' chances of securing the nomination and rally the electorate behind a centrist candidate. First, after massive donations from Mike Bloomberg to the DNC, the rules were changed for the Democratic Debates specifically to allow him to qualify. Regardless of whether their motives were to use Bloomberg as a means to split the vote and further ensure a brokered convention or if they simply couldn't help but cave to the demands that his money brought, it only serves to evidence the corruption of the Democratic Party and their sheer unwillingness to risk their positions of power within the current political system.

The subsequent withdrawal of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Mike Bloomberg from the race as well as their endorsement of Joe Biden represent the party's next major attempt to undermine Sanders. These candidates withdrew under the guise of viability, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that certain individuals within the Democratic establishment acted to ensure consolidation behind Biden.

Shaun King TweetCourtesy: Shaun King on Twitter

Shaun King, founder/journalist at The North Star and host of The Breakdown, cited individuals familiar with the situation who reported that Obama personally reached out to ask Buttigieg and Klobuchar to drop out in order to endorse and rally support behind Biden.

This was later confirmed by the NY Times and other reputable news outlets:

"Mr. Buttigieg talked with Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama on Sunday night, according to a Democratic official familiar with the conversations… Mr. Obama did not specifically encourage Mr. Buttigieg to endorse Mr. Biden, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. But Mr. Obama did note that Mr. Buttigieg has considerable leverage at the moment and should think about how best to use it."

With Obama's intervention, Buttigieg's unprecedented decision to drop out and endorse Biden despite his large lead in delegates starts to make sense within the context of the party's actions behind the scene. Bernie's solid performance in the early primaries forced the Democratic establishment's hand, leading for Obama and other central party figures to push for the neoliberals running to consolidate behind the figure with the most pull amongst the party, former Vice-President Biden. The timing of these withdrawals immediately prior to Super Tuesday allowed Biden to amass more votes than anticipated across the primaries, allowing Biden to close the gap in delegates between him and Sanders.

Super Tuesday ResultsCourtesy: Buzzfeed News

Warren's decision to remain in the race through Super Tuesday, regardless of her intentions, served in part to split the progressive vote. And, some might have given her the benefit of the doubt at the time, her recent endorsement of Biden suggests at the very least that the neoliberal establishment offered her a position within the Biden administration in order to remain in the race, helping to prevent Sanders from securing the nomination.

Throughout the entirety of the process, the corporate media and neoliberal pundits played a huge role in manufacturing consent within the general public, creating doubt of Sanders electability and support amongst key voting demographics such as minority groups. While this isn't explicitly intervention of the Democratic Party, the neoliberal pundits and surrogates of the party played a huge role in creating this narrative that allowed the media to perpetuate smear campaigns against the Sanders campaign. The media and the Democratic Party were successful in shifting the narrative of this election from the policies of the candidates to their ability to defeat Donald Trump. This shift was critical in slowing Sanders' momentum and allowing Biden to eventually become the presumptive nominee because it changed the framing of this election from issues of policy to electability. And, while Sanders dominated on matters of policy when compared to Biden, the media and Democratic establishment had spent years creating the narrative of Sanders as a divisive figure rather than one that could unify the party.

M4A SupportCourtesy: Morning Consult/Politico

Given the increasingly mainstream popularity of progressive policies within the Democratic Party, this strategy of prioritizing electability to policy proved the most effective in undermining the Sanders campaign. Ultimately, it was far easier to convince the electorate that Sanders couldn't unite the party to defeat Trump than it would have been to convince voters that Biden's political platform was superior to Sanders. (If you're interested in reading more about the corporate media's role in manufacturing consent, check out our Gramsci article on the topic.)

When Sanders refused to concede the nomination and revealed his intentions to remain in the race indefinitely, the Democratic Party and Biden campaign encouraged voters to turn out in person for primaries amidst the Coronavirus epidemic. This tactic was not only incredibly dangerous, putting the lives of thousands of voters at risk, but served to force Sanders out of the race as he refused to be complicit in allowing voters to turn out in person to vote and risk the spread of the Coronavirus.

While many thought it would not be possible to nominate a worse candidate than Clinton to take on Trump, the party managed to do just that with Biden and, in doing so, revealed the full extent of their perpetual incompetence. The media, pundits, and establishment's refusal to address Tara Reade's allegations of sexual assault against Biden prior to the suspension of the Sanders campaign reveals the insidious nature of their coordinated strategy to prevent Sanders from becoming the nominee. The election has become a choice between the less of two evils: Biden the sexual predator or Trump the sexual predator.

2016 Political Alignment DataCourtesy: F. H. Buckley via WSJ Opinion

Beyond the glaring issues presented in nominating a candidate with allegations of sexual assault, deteriorating cognitive abilities, a weak voting record, and generally as vulnerable as Biden, the Democratic Party has managed to prop up a politician that is more fiscally conservative than Hillary Clinton. Even after making 'concessions' such as lowering the Medicare age to 60 in order to create bridges with Sanders supporters, Biden's platform is still to the right of Hillary's in 2016 (which called to lower the Medicare age to 55). In spite of the data coming out of the 2016 election showing that almost none of the electorate identified as being socially liberal and fiscally conservative (a niche filled by the Libertarian Party), the Democrats have managed to force the nomination of the most fiscally conservative candidate in the race. The impact of forcing the nomination of candidate whose platform is grossly misaligned with the average Democratic voter is reflected in polls of his supporters enthusiasm, which revealed that:

"24 percent of his supporters said they were 'very' enthusiastic about supporting him.. [and] marked the lowest level of enthusiasm for a Democratic presidential candidate that ABC/Washington Post has found in the last 20 years. And perhaps even more troubling for Biden was that nearly twice as many of President Trump's supporters (53 percent) said they were 'very' enthusiastic about his candidacy. This, of course, has sparked comparisons to 2016 when… Hillary Clinton found herself in a similar situation — running neck-and-neck with Trump and with only 32 percent saying they were 'very' enthusiastic about supporting her… Biden, of course, is already 8 points below that mark now."

Because Biden's platform is not fiscally liberal, it does not do nearly enough to unify and create enthusiasm throughout Democratic Party's electorate when considering the majority of their voters identify as being to the left of moderately liberal in their beliefs regarding fiscal policies. The party has managed to nominate the worst possible candidate in terms of fragmenting the party at the divide between establishment neoliberals and progressives.

Ultimately, none of this is to say the Sanders campaign is blameless in his defeat. Had Sanders chosen to attack Biden, his ability to defeat Trump in the general election, his awful policy platform, his voting record, or any of the infinite other problematic aspects of the Biden campaign or Biden as a candidate, Sanders might have had a better shot at securing the nomination. However, there is no doubt that the Democratic Party, their neoliberal pundits, and the corporate media were actively working to prevent Sanders from securing the nomination. 

The actions of the Democratic Party have not gone unnoticed by voters. A growing portion of registered Democrats identify as progressives, and Biden's nomination has managed to alienate an ever growing majority of their base as well as the younger voters that control the future of the party. Neither will be soon to forget the actions of the party, forcing them to reconsider their party membership. A large portion of Sanders' base will not endorse Biden because of his voting record, the allegations of sexual assault against him, neoliberal policy platform, his support for the war in Iraq, and his growing senility. In nominating Biden, the Democratic Party has guaranteed Trump's reelection and ensured that the party will not continue to exist as they do in their current form: either nothing changes and voters leave en masse to support third parties or the party must begin to embrace an increasingly progressive electorate and agenda in order to remain relevant. 

(As an aside, consider voting third party such as the Green Party or PSL, or for whichever party most closely aligns with your political views, as any party surpassing the 5% threshold secures federal election funding.)