Just How Progressive Are the Democratic Party ‘Progressives’?

Originally published on 10/5/2019

Black Agenda Report

(Following are excerpts from an article by Danny Haiphong that was published in the Sept. 12, 2018, issue of Black Agenda Report. The full article can be accessed at http://www.blackagendareport.com.)

It should be all too clear by now that the “Resistance” to Donald Trump within the U.S. power structure is just a public relations stunt to sow popular consensus for war. The “Resistance” is comprised of the parasitic ruling class entities that huddled under Hillary Clinton’s big tent in the 2016 presidential election.

The “Resistance” was out in full force to celebrate John McCain’s life, and it used the occasion of his funeral to promote its “anti-Trump,” pro-war message.

McCain supported Nazis in Ukraine and head-chopping terrorists in Syria. He encouraged enthusiastically the U.S. invasion of Iraq and called for the bombing of Iran on numerous occasions. He also opposed fervently the existence of a Martin Luther King holiday.

To Democrats and Republicans, it was his service to the lords of war and finance that made him so heroic.

In fact, praise from McCain has come from all sides of the so-called “Resistance” to Trump. Congressman John Lewis called McCain a “warrior for peace.” Former President Barack Obama eulogized McCain as a prime example of what it meant to be a “patriot.”

What is surprising, or at least should be, is that self-proclaimed democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are guilty of the same crime. When McCain died, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that his “legacy represents an example of human decency and American service.”

Some members of DSA have issued a rebuke of Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet. While this is a necessary step in a positive direction, Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet is representative of much more than a mere case of bad politics. Her support of McCain means that she isn’t an opponent of empire. It also means that she certainly IS a Democrat.

Ocasio-Cortez’s unapologetic co-sign of McCain’s corporate war agenda calls into question the limitations of running for elected office within the Democratic Party apparatus. 

The Democratic Party has never been the party of the working class or oppressed. It has never been the party of Black America. Democratic Party leaders promise only more austerity and war and actively suppress anyone who stands in their way.

The love that Democrats and their corporate media partners have shown McCain over the last few weeks is a stark indication of just how deep the bipartisan consensus for war and imperialism runs. That Ocasio-Cortez joined the chorus is a reminder that socialism is more than just a word. Socialism is a system that people fight for when armed with the understanding that capitalism and imperialism cannot be reformed.

Socialism is a system where workers and oppressed people operate and control a new state, one that is geared toward the needs of the people rather than the profit motive. Such a system is impossible without a movement grounded in the principle of solidarity with people beyond U.S. borders.

Real socialists understand that the U.S. war machine is the principle instrument of imperialist oppression worldwide. Solidarity is a conscious decision to fight the U.S. war machine so that people around the world can strengthen their own movements for liberation.

Socialists have two paths before them. One leads directly to the graveyard of social movements staffed by the Democratic National Committee. The other leads to abandonment of the Democrats so that new independent formations and organizations can emerge and find increased popular support.

All socialist-leaning organizers, activists, and journalists should consider this when thinking about running another election campaign within the Democratic Party machinery.

Silence on U.S. Foreign Policy

(Following are brief excerpts from an article by Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce Dixon. The full article can be found at http://www.blackagendareport.com.)

There are three national outfits providing technical and fundraising assistance, expert personnel, and endorsements to supposedly progressive Democrats. They are Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, and Our Revolution.

They had a big hand in the victory of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in New York, and in dozens of congressional, state level, and local Democratic primary campaigns.

Thirty-one congressional candidates endorsed by one or more of these progressive outfits survived the Democratic primary to face Republicans in November. Black Agenda Report took a quick look at the web sites of those 31 progressive candidates for congress.

What stands out in their web sites is that 21 out of 31 have absolutely NOTHING to say to voters about war or peace, or about the military budget which consumes roughly one trillion dollars a year. 

For 21 out of 31 so-called progressive Democratic candidates, the world outside the U.S., the American global empire, and the globally integrated capitalist economy either do not exist at all, or just don’t make their top 10 or top 12 list of priority issues.

That’s what it is to be a progressive Democrat these days.

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