Whatever you might think about Donald Trump and his administration, their tenure in the White House, a shade over six months old now, has been a rollercoaster ride with something new to report each and every passing day.
The biggest drawback to this obsession with the latest Washington shenanigans is, of course, the fact that although Trump & co might provide us with easy one-liners and online memes, there is also a very serious side to the story in that we are talking about the government of the most powerful nation in the world.
It’s all very well to ridicule the man in power right now – but it’s pointless unless you can suggest a reasonable alternative.
That alternative is the broad tent that is the Democratic Party, and the 2016 campaign in particular has divided it into two distinct factions….the “corporate wing”, essentially those in the most senior positions in Washington right now, and the “progressive wing”, ie those who follow the social equity platform of the likes of Bernie Sanders.
Here is a recent quote from the Washington Post to ponder…see if you can guess which side of the Democratic tent it came from…
“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”
Obviously I want you to think that’s a Progressive, when in actual fact it’s one of the most senior corporate Democrats, Minority leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer.
Ever since the election, Schumer and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have been as much under attack from their left as from their right, probably more so. And most of it was deserved.
But there has to be a point at which even progressives realise that the Schumers and Pelosis still represent the front line of the resistance to the current terrifying incarnation of the Republican Party, and once and a while they need to be given a bit of slack, especially when they are making noises that sound like they come straight out of the Bernie Sanders playbook.
I’m not one to give the Democrat leadership too much praise – the best thing that be said about the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that at least their corporate policies aren’t as bad as their opposition. What I would rather do is change the narrative – it’s not about how much or little we appease the wishes of the “one percent”, rather it’s about formulating policies that are fair to everyone whether it benefits the rich or not.
To promote this mindset I fully understand the need to hold big-donor politicians to account no matter what their stripes. But what do we do when they start using slogans that reflect our agenda?
“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”
Of course it’s natural to be sceptical when they start to look as though they’re drinking the Bernie KoolAid. But care must be taken to ensure healthy scepticism doesn’t morph into petulant rejection.
For now anyway, I am willing to give the likes of Schumer a chance. After all, it can’t have been easy to keep 48 Democratic senators united against Trumpcare – you can be sure one or two of the “Blue Dogs” (more right-leaning Democrats) were courted by the GOP and none have budged.
If the Democrats really want to adopt progressive values to their platform – remember they did at their convention last year only many feared it was empty promises on paper – they need to be supported, voted for, and put under pressure when there are any signs of them failing to deliver.
After all, that’sq what being a ‘Democrat’, with a large or small d, is meant to entail. JLP