The Democratic Party has taken blow after blow in recent national elections. Although some may accredit the losses to Russian intervention, there needs to be a moment of self-criticism within the party. Although it is undeniable they did what they could to help Donald Trump, there is little concrete evidence at the moment that the Kremlin’s sophisticated tactics determined the 2016 election. However, the grotesque split between Clintonians and Berniecrats undoubtedly weakened the electoral left.
Establishment Democrats did a tremendous job alienating anyone slightly left of center by creating the sometimes-true, mostly fictitious “Bernie Bro” prototype that was stamped onto anyone who demanded better than the status quo and felt unsatisfied with Secretary Clinton. Democrats then spit in the face of progressives by naming Tom Perez the DNC chairman over Keith Ellison, utilizing Islamophobic rhetoric to smear Ellison’s image in the process. Now, instead of learning from their mistakes, they have begun to groom corrupt, corporate centrists such as Kamala Harris and Cory Booker for leadership positions.
In their stubbornness, it appears that Democrats have found their strong suit: losing.
Both Harris and Booker have faced fair criticisms. As Attorney General of California, Harris refused to prosecute OneWest Bank for more than 1,000 illegal foreclosures. Interestingly enough, OneWest’s CEO donated to her 2011 Attorney General campaign as well as her 2016 Senate campaign. Furthermore, as Chelsea Manning pointed out on Twitter, Harris previously voted in favor of transphobic policies.
Criticisms of Booker are largely similar. A quick look at his biggest donors tells us quite a bit. His top contributor is NorPAC, a conservative, Pro-Israel group that supports the military occupation of Palestine. His fourth biggest donor is Sullivan & Cromwell, the corporate law firm who had involvement in the toppling of the Guatemalan government.
Rather than listening to the criticisms of the left and addressing them logically, centrists have taken the lazy route of labeling progressives who dislike Harris’s and Booker’s corporate ties as “entitled white males” while in the same breath denouncing black, leftist leader, Assata Shakur as a terrorist. Instead of engaging in self-criticism, they demand progressives fall back in line with status quo through complete evasion.
Let’s be completely frank—the vicious hatred toward anything further left than the neoliberal Clinton regime has very little to do with falsified demographic stereotypes and a lot to do with an adamant craving for power.
However, that frantic struggle for control has proven to be massively unproductive for Democrats. It cost them what should have been a gift of an election in 2016 as well as nearly every special election thereafter. Perhaps a change in strategy is in order, rather than continuing to offer voters more of the same type of candidates. For a party that literally references “democracy” in their name, they seem to have a weak grasp on what it means to serve an unsatisfied electorate.
It would be reasonable to look to the motherland for inspiration, in this case. England’s Labour Party has faced its own split in recent years between centrist Blairites and leftist Corbynites. When Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election in 2017, centrists were convinced that Labour under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn would face a monumental loss. In fact, Corbyn’s party issued a devastating blow to May’s conservatives. Blairites were forced to eat their words and reluctantly take a few steps towards modernity.
I cannot say it matters to me whether the leadership within the Democratic Party gets its strategy together. After holding plenty of positions within the party myself, I jumped ship precisely when I realized truly working for their constituency was never their concern. I do, however, hope the people of this country begin to be properly represented by someone, and that harmful conservative policies are eradicated from the mainstream. If the Democratic Party ever wishes to genuinely be the one to take up that fight, it’ll have to take a good look at itself and eliminate those same regressive sentiments from within its own party.
– May Olvera is journalism junior.